No Business Without Knowhow
Jelena Krstović, CEO at Corpo Public Affairs
Izvor: CorD Magazin – https://cordmagazine.com/business-dialogue/jelena-krstovic-corpo-public-affairs-no-business-without-knowhow/
Thanks to its familiarity with both the local market and global trends, CORPO Public Affairs is focused on coming up with a unique model of corporate governance, organisation and strategic communications for every company in accordance with its size, plans and business culture
Our team is a real partner when it is necessary to create an organisational structure that’s ready for all challenges, which communicates with key target sections of the public and decision makers at the strategic level, and which has a plan and knows how to implement it, reveals Jelena Krstović for CorD.
You are a doctor of science and college lecturer, and you also served as vice president of a company that then had an annual turnover of three billion euros and 24,000 employees. Which of those experiences do you rely on the most today?
Considering my rich and diverse experience, I must emphasise that I’ve always relied on the mutual integration of my academic and business knowledge and experience. I believe that the results of the company only achieve their full potential when this synergy exists, when academic knowledge is used in the service of business, and, of course, the reverse also applies.
What is most important to our clients is extensive experience in a large business system, but also experience gained through managing small businesses and systems and start-up companies. The essence is indeed to adapt yourself and create a unique model of corporate governance, organisation and strategic communications for a particular company, in the context of its size, plans and business culture. Not every company needs the same organisational culture or development strategy.
Are there any restrictions in your work that relate to a company’s size, area of business, volume of operations etc.?
Regardless of size, number of employees or annual turnover, every company needs a specific operational system. It must be introduced in a planned and systematic way, and the aim is primarily to increase company performance, the better organisation of work, financial monitoring and analysis of the operations and readiness to take on further challenges (growth, development, M&A or that which is already in the plans and focus of a particular company).
We have an excellent team that’s able to create the best business organisation for any company, to placing it on a “healthy footing”
Of course, a cost control plan is also important, as are building and strengthening a brand, which has added value. All businesses have their own channels of communication that already exist and live, the only issue is how successfully and systematically they are utilised. Experience shows that it is always better when strategic communications are managed than when they happen spontaneously, which is inevitable.
You are an expert in strategic corporate communications and corporate governance, relations with government, while the majority of your company’s business is related to lobbying. To what extent do all these jobs differ, and how much do they intertwine?
What is specific and unique about Public Affairs is precisely that it integrates all of these activities and areas, the synergies of which produce enduring results. It is not enough just to have good PR, marketing or online campaigns when the company behind them can’t take the next step, lacks accurate financial reporting and planning, and doesn’t know what to expect next year or in five years.
Since the introduction of the Law on Lobbying last summer, space has been created for constant communication between companies and decision makers. Implementation and effects are yet to be expected, and I believe deeply that the dialogue between institutions and private companies must be constant, and at the highest possible level, in order for us to create a freer, more transparent and better business environment.
- Published in Perspectives
3 Signs You’re Getting in the Way of Your Team’s Growth
Here’s what managers can do to prioritize both performance and process.
Employee growth is touted as a core value in many workplaces, yet in a world that is so focused on performance, it’s easy to lose sight of the learning process that fuels results in the first place. When managers solely focus on the bottom line — rather than the development of their staffers — their team members can quickly feel undervalued and unheard, and might develop a fixed, rather than a growth mindset. That means they will avoid challenges instead of embracing them, respond poorly to feedback rather than listening and implementing change, and ultimately feel stagnant rather than supported.
If you’re worried your team isn’t living up to its full potential, focus on developing a growth culture. Here are some signs you might be standing in the way of team growth, and three ways to encourage it instead.
1. You never have time to guide your team through pain points
As a manager, it is often up to you to track and support employee growth — and course-correct when something isn’t going as planned. But with back-to-back meetings and ever-pressing deadlines, it can be challenging to find the time, not to mention the most effective methods, to coach your team through challenging situations. This can have a detrimental impact; absentee or passive leadership can decrease your team’s productivity and engagement with their work, and on an interpersonal level, it can impact your ability to connect with your team.
Thy this: Instead of hoping the problem resolves on its own, take time out of your day to support and show up for your team. Plan a team meeting — even if it’s brief — to address the problem at hand and talk through the ways it has impacted members’ ability to work and grow. Devise problem-solving strategies as a group — rather than on your own, or leaving it to another member of the team — and schedule regular check-ins to make sure your team is progressing through the pain point.
2. You tend to deliver criticism without offering actionable advice
Even though it is a central part of their role, many managers don’t enjoy giving feedback. However, constructive feedback serves an important role — if it’s done right, that is. Feedback that is overly negative or doesn’t offer actionable insights won’t help your team cultivate their knowledge or skills.
Try this: Team members need continuous, empathetic feedback. Try thinking of the scenario from your team member’s perspective: If you were receiving the same feedback, would you be able to learn something from the conversation and apply it to your work, or would you walk away feeling defeated, or even resentful? Consider how you would want to be spoken to and what would motivate you to learn from mistakes. Give your team the opportunity to receive feedback that works.
3. You aren’t always receptive to your team’s ideas
Another factor that impacts employees’ growth is the way their managers respond to their thoughts and ideas. Research shows that if supervisors are thorough and sensitive when responding to suggestions — even if they do not plan on implementing them — their team members are more likely to speak up in the future. On the other hand, a lack of explanation and encouragement could prevent employees from using their voice to the fullest extent.
Try this: To promote team growth, use compassionate directness when responding to ideas and make sure you are actively listening when an employee speaks up. So show nonverbal signs of engagement like nodding, acknowledge what you heard them say, and ask follow-up questions. This way, your team will feel heard, and even if their ideas can’t be brought to life, they can learn from the experience and will feel comfortable sharing with you in the future.
By no means is it easy to promote and perpetuate growth culture during challenging times or periods of change, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be achieved. Paying attention to your team members’ learning processes and encouraging them to speak up through compassionate directness can give them the push they need, and make you a more effective manager.
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- Published in Perspectives
How to Drive Profits with Corporate Social Responsibility
Research shows that companies integrating sustainability into core operations reap multiple financial benefits.
Companies that fully integrate social responsibility into their business operations are well placed for healthy financial returns on their investments, a new study shows.
Research and consulting firm IO Sustainability has been studying the business case for sustainability, or CSR (corporate social responsibility), and has been able to map specific advantages obtained by companies that are serious about it. The firm’s latest deep dive looked at companies with CSR programs being managed separately from the rest of the company’s operations, and compared them with companies fully integrating CSR into their operations. The study found that integration brings enormous advantages.
The winning strategy looks like this: a company identifies areas of social impact that fit with its core strategy, products or services, and operations. It makes a commitment, dedicating resources to these social impact projects that are material to the company. It manages and measures social impact performance with clear key performance indicators. And it connects and engages with stakeholders for full effect.
According to the research, companies sticking to the IO Sustainability roadmap of integrating social impact into their business were able to:
- enhance sales by as much as 20%
- increase productivity by 13%
- reduce employee turnover by half
- protect against litigation risk at a value equivalent to the cost of insurance worth up to 4% of the company’s value
- increase the company’s share price by up to 6%
- create a “reputation dividend’ worth up to 11% of market capitalization
- reduce financial risk, the cost of equity, and the cost of borrowing.
The study showed that companies not integrating their CSR programs into the business could still earn a reputation advantage, but not much else. A CSR program on the sidelines that does not involve employees, for example, would not affect employee turnover rates.
Companies fully integrating CSR were able to increase sales and prices. Other research confirms this idea, particularly as millennials seek ways to make their purchasing reflect their values. Customers pay attention to the way brands react to social and political issues and are ready to boycott when a company’s values appear to conflict with their own, or instead to line up to buy to applaud a company’s activism. Never before has it been so important for companies to make their values clear and take stands. In a polarized world, taking a middle ground doesn’t work well anymore. According to IO Sustainability’s research, customers of companies integrating CSR fall increasingly into two categories: “aspirationals,” who think of a brand as part of the cultural fabric they identify with (a company today can hope to attract 39% of customers into this category), and “advocates,” who proactively promote a brand and support its values (a successful company can count on up to 20% of its customers as advocates, helping the brand on social media and with peer referrals).
Understanding this truth, Aspiration Bank, an online bank targeting socially conscious savers, has a new app ranking brands on social and environmental performance. When an account holder of the bank uses her debit card to purchase an Apple product, for example, she gets an alert on the app that Apple has a “People” score of 86 and a “Planet” score of 92 (reflecting the company’s commitment to renewable energy). She might be interested to know how a local business near her scores, and send its name into the app for a full review and ranking.
A company can cultivate a reputation for great products, for being innovative, for offering a great place to work, for good governance, for good corporate citizenship, and for showing leadership on important issues. The IO research shows estimated percentage increases to things like market capitalization that a good reputation can bring. In fact, over the last half century, the stock market value of companies has shifted from being mostly equal to the value of its brick and mortar assets and inventories, to being based on mostly intangible assets such as patents or reputation. Well-known brands today are worth vastly more than the sum of the value of the footwear or cloud servers or soft drinks they peddle.
In order to fully integrate sustainability into a company’s purpose, culture, and operations, it’s important to fully engage with stakeholders. The general idea is to shift the focus of corporate strategy from short-term results and quick profitability for investors, to longer-term thinking and value creation for all stakeholders, including for example employees, the community, and the planet. The longer-term approach works better for longer-term investors, too, such as individuals saving for retirement.
More and more prominent voices are calling for a shift to a longer-term horizon in management, and to value creation for all stakeholders. JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon teamed up with Warren Buffett recently to call for an end to quarterly earnings forecasting, in order to push the focus of corporate managers towards the longer term, joining Blackrock’s Larry Fink who has repeatedly called for long-term thinking and attention to environmental, social and governance factors in his annual letter to CEOs.
Integration of sustainability into operations is a winning strategy that will set the stage for a much-needed cultural shift for corporate America.
- Published in Perspectives
5 Fatal Mistakes That Entrepreneurs Make When Forming a Corporate Board
- Published in Perspectives
Five reasons spokes people fail to get their message across
If you’ve managed to ascend to a position of leadership in your chosen field, having some level of exposure to the media is an inevitable part of the job. While the level of control a business has over its ‘owned’ media does provide a sense of safety and when ‘going viral’ feels like the cool thing to do, there is still little that provides the same level of reputation-enhancing, share-price raising and policymaker influencing boost like obtaining national coverage in the media, whether in print, online or broadcast.
Given how difficult it is to provide a successful interview performance, but knowing how easy it is to get it wrong and do near irreparable harm to your business and your career, it is still baffling to think of how little emphasis some business leaders give to understanding the media. How often do we hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth at the journalist who came with their own ‘agenda’ (how dare they!) or who ‘quoted them out of context’ or who should have realised that part of the conversation was ‘off the record’, as if that were a real thing? Here’s five things you should consider before your next encounter with a journalist:
1.Journalists don’t care about objective truth. Sorry to burst this bubble, but the overwhelming majority of reporters aren’t trying to win a British Journalism Award with every piece they write. But they’re probably not out to get you either. What they will have is a looming deadline and a word count to hit. This means they care more about getting their piece in on time than they do making sure you get the coverage you want.
2.Sometimes journalists do have their own agenda – it’s your job to work around it. If you were going to any other business meeting you would probably spend as much time working out what the other party wanted from it as you would working out what your objectives are – and why should a media interview be any different? Realise this and plot ways to get around it. Prepare for it and don’t take it personally. You will always come across worse.
3.Most interviewers know nothing about who you are and what you do. Especially true for broadcasters but even a specialist correspondent on a broadsheet doesn’t know every company in their sector. A former national TV reporter once told me that if he was lucky, he would have time to prepare one general starter question to get the interview started and then would be winging it and hoping that his interviewee would be interesting enough that he didn’t have to do anything but keep nudging the conversation along. Take advantage and control the conversation.
4.If you get misquoted, it’s no one’s fault but yours. Whether it’s ‘out of context’ or not, it’s your responsibility to manage the interaction and to ensure that the one thing you want the journalist to quote you on is what they actually write. Be clear about what the most important pieces of information you want to impart are and make sure you express them clearly, repeatedly and without using jargon. And if you are misquoted (and it’s not libellous) – tough. Demanding a retraction or slamming in a ‘letter to the editor’ is a waste of time.
5.THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS OFF THE RECORD! Not sure how this one hasn’t got across to everyone yet. You must assume that everything you say or sing can end up in print or being broadcast on the evening news. If you present the journalist with an interesting aside on a competitor, as you are shaking hands and leaving the interview, do not be surprised if that becomes the headline of the interview and all of the carefully crafted message and key information you imparted will have been forgotten in an instant.
Dealing with the media successfully requires a specialist set of skills which need to be dusted off and practiced regularly. If you’ve spent good money preparing your PR strategy and getting your key messages and proof points in place, failing to prepare for a successful interview makes no sense.
- Published in Perspectives