Report: Unlocking Potential

High performing corporate affairs teams play a critical role in helping organisations to be their very best. They help their organisations to navigate reputational risks and build trust in what they do and how they do it.  They nurture relationships with key stakeholders, act as the firm’s eyes and ears – and conscience – and help the business to make better decisions.

Creating a truly high performing team, one that plays a meaningful role in the overall success of an organisation, takes thought, time and effort.  And it’s a constant work in progress.

We set out to understand how Corporate Affairs Directors who have succeeded in creating high performing teams have done it. Conducting in depth interviews with more than 25 Corporate Affairs Directors who were candid about their experiences and keen for others to benefit from them.

From these insights, together with our experience of supporting organisations to not only hire great people but build successful teams, four key themes emerged.

Set up for success

The team, structure and culture you inherit need not be the ones you keep, but you should do your due diligence so there aren’t any big surprises when you step up or into the job.  You need clear alignment with your CEO on the job to be done and a mandate to make any changes required to do it.

Get the right structure

How you structure your team sends a clear signal to colleagues and is a sign of your intentions.  Clarity in structure and accountability is what allows a corporate affairs team and the people in it to act as strategic partners to the business.  It also helps internal stakeholders to understand what you do, and don’t do.​

Employ the best people

Talented, collaborative people with a range of skills and experience from diverse backgrounds are critical to achieving success.  Consider how best to use the people you’ve already got, and where necessary hire new talent to further strengthen and invigorate the team.

Nurture the culture you want

A strong culture is a critical enabler of high performance.  Creating a trusted environment where people can be themselves will enable them, and the whole team, to thrive.  There’s no room for ‘brilliant jerks’.

We hope that this report will prove useful to corporate affairs leaders and their colleagues in HR as they strive to create high performing teams that truly support their organisations to be the best they can be. To receive a full copy of the report, please email hello@birchwoodknight.com.

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31st January 2024

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