Tips for company heads of department – Part 6

In the last five weeks, we have discussed many important aspects of heading a departing in a company or organisation. These discussions have included matters relating to people, processes, delivery of results, managing yourself and communication. Another important aspect that you need to mind about in this role is ‘managing the company.’ I am talking about managing all issues that relate to the survival of your company and also to your continuation in the role as a senior officer in the company. You are not just an employee, you are a very senior employee. Your level of engagement in the company should be so close to the level of the owner of the company, by virtue of your rank in the company.

With regard to your company, your number one focus is to promote the brand. It does not matter which department you head, whether operations, supply chain, human resources, information technology, sales, marketing, engineering, technical, production, legal or corporate affairs – every head of department has a paramount responsibility to promote the brand of their company. If your company loses all its brand value then it is as good as dead. If your company is into profit making, once you lose the brand, your revenues will nose-dive. If you work in none profit making organisations like NGOs, if your NGO loses its brand or reputation, no one will want to deal with you – not even those communities you serve or your funders. That is why it your paramount responsibility to protect the brand and reputation of your organisation.

This means that you have to live the values of your company. You need to know what your company stands for and you must repeatedly propagate those values to your teams in simple ways that they understand and embrace. And you must lead by example. Of course, to promote the brand, you have to go beyond living the values. You have to demonstrate that you deliver your services to the highest grade expected standards.

To the outside world, they do not see you as just a head of department, they actually see you as a face of the company. Do not run away from issues that relate to other departments, tackle them where you can. In most cases, you need to take up the issues and channel them to the relevant sections or departments. But you have the ultimate responsibility and accountability to those that register the issue with you. Therefore, do not just ‘dump’ the issue to the relevant section, follow up until it is resolved or dealt with and handshake with the stakeholder that raised the issue at the end of it. More than half the time, the sections that you refer the matter to, do not act on those issues unless you keep reminding and ‘pushing’ them. This way, you will be respected as a true and organised professional.

You also need to behave according to the company’s code of conduct. Most companies will have a code of conduct. Read it at least once every year to refresh your memory because it is a very important document. Any serious deviation in your conduct from what is stipulated in that document can not only seriously harm the company but can also result in the ending of your employment. It is therefore important for both the company and you.

Finally, you need at all times to clearly and fully understand the core business of your company or organisation. Then master the overarching strategy and direction in which the company is going. You then need to clearly define your strategy for your department that feeds into these two important attributes. Moving at fast speed in a wrong direction is no progress. You may be doing a great job but if it does not feed into the strategic objectives of the company or the overarching strategy then you are as good as lost. As a senior executive, you need to always have clarity about direction. It is you role to read that from those above you and then translate to those below you to also align. Good luck! n

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