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Public Affairs Insights from the Centre

25 Sep 2012

The 2012 State of Australian Public Affairs series: Demonstrating the function’s value

George Onisiforou

Results from our 2012 State of Public Affairs research show that public affairs functions in Australia predominantly gauge their performance by assessing external stakeholder perceptions and attitudes. Less functions measure their success based on the level of satisfaction of their internal customers.

That the function’s performance is not assessed entirely through internal measures of satisfaction is a good development. Seeking the perceptions and opinions of those who can influence an organisation’s reputation can contribute to a better alignment of the function’s outputs to its outcomes and its measurement approaches.

However, only 20 per cent of public affairs functions in Australia describe their overall performance measurement capability for the function as highly developed. Further, many of the qualitative comments in our survey expressed how difficult it is to demonstrate the value of the function to leaders and line management peers.

This remains as one of the enduring challenges for functional leadership.

Not having a highly developed performance measurement capability is a risk and is exacerbated by the amount of organisational change that has become the norm in corporate life (more than 50 per cent of respondents said their function had been reorganised or restructured in the past year).

There are many paths to improve a function’s performance measurement capabilities. Benchmarking against peers is a start, which seems to be what most functions aspire to. Reputation and stakeholder relationships top the list of activities that will be benchmarked over the coming year (69 per cent of respondents).

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