How to Build your Department’s Reputation

Many departments in companies are faced with the proverbial axe, as organizations downsize, outsource or question the added value offered by these departments.

Often departments are guilty of not marketing themselves adequately internally. Often department heads and members assume that all stakeholders know what added value they are offering the organization. In the meantime the perceptions created are not always in synch. There may be doubts about the perceived value they are getting.

Most departments have a need for the following:

Print– To extend their department’ strategic influence throughout the organization;

– To market themselves internally as a Strategic Provider;

– To increase the levels of communication between the Department and its clients and "paying" customers;                                              

It is important to realize that with tighter budgets and a greater emphasis on performance in all areas, that managers should turn to market tactics as a way to ensure their customers – from top management to entry level workers – understand exactly what products, services and added value the department offers.

The following questionnaire has been drawn up to prime your way of thinking. Complete the following questions:

  1. Does your department have a written business plan in place that was completed with the input of all relevant stakeholders?
  2. When last have you conducted market research among your customers internally and externally?
  3. What are you doing to promote your department internally?
  4. Could you improve on this process? Are you using all communication channels and mediums available?
  5. How actively is top management involved in your efforts?
  6. Assume that you have just been called in and told that your department’s functions and services are going to be outsourced. However, the organization is willing to give you one hour in which to come up with a document that will show your worth to the organization. Therefore, ask yourself this question: "Why should your organization not outsource your function."

In this increasingly fast-moving, complex, and competitive world, successful professionals who will be able to leverage their marketing success are those who stay close to their clients, work with them in business partnerships to anticipate needs and develop demand-driven solutions, create distinctive advantages in the marketplace, and use marketing plans to run their departments.

For those who are willing to commit to the discipline required for a strategic-marketing and reputation building approach to their departments, the payoffs will show on the bottom line-and in increased satisfaction for clients and the department’s professionals.

(Training professionals who want a seat at the strategic table may find my posting useful. It is based on 13 years as an independent service professional (consultant) and having been involved long ago in my career in the setting up and management of 4 training departments (including a business school)

Here is my advice:

1. A Department should be managed as if it is a new department which no one knows anything about.

2. Develop a strategic Business and Marketing plan for the Department. Example – If management came to you and told you they are going to outsource your Department, what would you do? A book like JobShift by William Bridges is superb in this regard. Like any business you need a Vision, Mission, etc.

3. Market your department as if it is a new business. Define your products and services, do a FAB Analysis – Features, Advantages and Benefits. Then promote them as if no one knew you existed.

4. Go out internally and market yourself to line managers, SME’s and influencers. Actively involve top management and constantly communicate results to top management and other stakeholders. Unless you are clear on what you will provide, why should I buy from you? Why should I use you even though you are an internal service provider?

5. Conduct regular research to test your usability and whether you are still adding value. Documenting the effectiveness of efforts clearly and ensure that it reaches the right ears. Use oral, written and online media to build your presence and influence.

6. Look for ways to promote your department in the workplace. What added value and assistance can your department offer to others? There is a saying that no one is indispensable, but why not make yourself, that?