I’m not going to mince words or bury the lede:
You should periodically sponsor an audit of your communications or marketing unit.
Despite the word “audit” creating fear in the hearts of most, the comprehensive review of an organizational unit is an excellent practice…for all the reasons you suspect, and more.
Who can argue with the benefit of having an external someone spend time reviewing your team, listening to your challenges, and coming back with a list of recommendations and possible changes?
When’s the last time you stepped back and thoughtfully evaluated why your team does what they do? Are you focusing on high-impact activities? Do you track outcomes with established metrics?
Are you new to a leadership role in communications/marketing or new to a particular campus? Maybe you are new to higher education. In all of these cases, an audit can help you get your sea legs or allow you to more thoughtfully consider what new positions to add to your team.
I could go on about the expected benefits of an audit; instead here are three other reasons to do one:
1. An audit can uncover enthusiasm for new projects and processes.
People will reveal things to a stranger. When a trusted, third-party is asking, individuals feel comfortable taking small risks – they will share ideas and hopes for the team’s future. There’s nothing better than getting detailed ideas and suggestions from people on the ground. You can rely on their eyes and ears to help identify improvements, opportunities and priorities. In my consulting work, I regularly learn of new projects and processes that would be enthusiastically embraced by team members. Knowing what your team will support (and get behind) positions you on a faster track and ultimately makes you more successful.
2. Evidence from an audit may show you need more resources.
An objective outsider can help you make the case for more resources (think more people to do the work you aren’t but should be doing). Active consultants with experience working on a campus will have top-of-mind information about similar units at other institutions. They will be able to size up your unit, consult on vision, and help you determine if current or new staff will be required. The execs I meet often ask what they should invest in—they want to know about the secret sauce. Most aren’t surprised when I say: The secret sauce is people! In my consulting work, I have had a lot of success helping clients gain support for new positions.
3. The results of an audit will be a tool in your arsenal for saying no.
There is one thing we are definitely not good at in higher ed: Saying no. Instead, we live the life of unfunded mandates. We have large packs on our backs where we carry all the things we’ve been doing for the last 20 years and all the new things we add every academic year. In that same pack are the things someone else thought were good ideas. Before we know it, that pack weighs us down, creates burnout, prevents us from getting to the activities with the highest value. I have coached many individuals on how to separate the wheat from the chaff, how to make the case to eliminate low-value tasks they’ve always done, or just stop.
My deep background in HR, IT, communications/marketing and fundraising on a campus makes me ideal for conducting audits of organizational units. I know how to listen, make people comfortable, establish rapport, size up situations, and develop concrete actions and recommendations.
Think about it.
I’m glad to talk with you about your particular circumstances. I am nimble and flexible when it comes to conducting audits and can quickly customize an approach that will suit your needs.
The budget needed for conducting an audit isn’t high. Let me know if you’d like a quick phone call with me to talk about the options.