Communications leaders can learn a lot about functional governance from colleagues in finance, a department that structurally and culturally tends to do this well.
When you think about it, the function within an organization is an established, recognized centre of expertise. Finance sets up policies and guidelines that apply not only to its employees, but are also applicable across the corporation. For example, finance will set the limit for signing authority on contracts and will establish how budgets are managed.
This is the same approach we should strive for in communications – the function has recognized expertise, a defined mandate and a transversal role in setting the organization’s communications strategy – including guidance on messaging as well as reputation management that spans all employees and leaders.
This analogy is particularly germane when it comes to establishing governance over approval processes. Your finance department is probably not looking for a communicator’s input into their excel spreadsheets and budgets. Yet routinely, executives from any function will not hesitate to provide subjective feedback on communications matters over which they have no expertise or functional jurisdiction. Be attentive to this tendency and make sure not to enable it by seeking undue feedback on communications strategies or products which fall squarely within your domain.