Do we need a VP of Engagement? 

Gallup’s human sigma for employee engagement[/caption]Someone has to be in charge of what to do, when it comes to engagement The buck has to stop somewhere. If the CEO is a hands-off sort of guy when it comes to internal processes, will it be HR or marketing that makes the running? If the CEO is hands-on, she will still need to decide at various stages of the engagement process whether we go with what marketing says or what HR says. Someone has to prevail.What is really needed is an ‘engagement VP’ to give equally-weighted guidance to the views of both internal functions and make a decision.

The engagement VP

So if engagement is going to be one of the crucial metrics of successful organisations in the future someone will have to take responsibility for its delivery. It will be the Engagement VP’s role to try and control this whole process rather than be its victim. She will have to be a hybrid of existing human resources VPs and marketing VPs who know both how to save money but also how to spend it. She will have to be able to research and recognise a trend as well as create new trends which are beneficial to the organisation and its brand values. She will be able to be critical about how the organisation’s values get translated into the many social media now available and be able to manage the reputation of the organisation, both internally and externally, online and offline.

Above all she will need to gain and maintain trust from many internal and external groups in the same way that a successful brand builds consumer trust over many years through brand performance. Better and persistent engagement requires organisational building skills as well as marketing skills to an equal degree. Not an easy portfolio. But the brand future you envision for your organization cannot be left alone to simply evolve. The Engagement VP and her team will have to make it happen.

21st century structure

It is not often that there is the opportunity to change the old way of doing things and take advantage of new insights. Employing an engagement VP may be the answer. True corporate or organisational engagement brings together HR people development models with marketing and communication skills under one banner. In other words engagement sits above both HR and marketing…it’s obvious.

In the years to come it will be viewed as an obvious improvement for all successful organisations to have made. Future commentators will no doubt chuckle to themselves that until the 21st century most large organisations deliberately split the strategic task of engagement between two or more departments with the inevitable misalignment and lack of mutual accountability. Now that we have, or could have engagement VPs the big divide between HR and marketing will become an historic oddity of the past.

John G Fisher is the managing director of FMI Group, a UK brand engagement agency and author of Strategic Brand Engagement, published by Kogan Page, 2014

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