Delegation builds better workplaces. Don’t believe me? Walk into a place where there’s frustrated staff, an uncertain atmosphere and low productivity and most likely you’ll find a boss making every decision, having all the ideas and insisting people work within strict limits.
Delegating is crucial for government, agency and not for profit PR leaders whether they manage small teams or large outfits.
PR teams routinely juggle competing deadlines and multiple projects. That’s true for other disciplines but uncertainty and crisis are never far away from the PR professional. Plus there’s always a campaign in play, about to start or wrapping up. Our responsibilities oscillate between internal obligations and external expectations.
That’s why delegating responsibility is a must for any PR leader. Besides the obvious need to maintain momentum when we’re absent, delegating to others means things get done faster and more creatively when more brainpower is applied to a task apart from our own. Delegation transfers control downwards from the you to your employees. It can ease your burden and at the same time be powerful motivator for younger professionals. Think back! When you have had the chance to take charge of your job and learn new things, have you felt more fulfilled and happier? Most likely!
Delegation builds better workplaces. Don’t believe me? Walk into a situation where there are frustrated staff, an uncertain atmosphere and low productivity and most likely you’ll see the boss making every decision, having all the ideas and insisting people work within strict limits.
PR bosses can approach delegation from two broad directions.
You can assign small, low risk activities to junior PRs based on organisational needs and their abilities and interests. This approach gradually builds confidence between you and the team member and in the process improves their skills and knowledge. You increasingly hand out more complex assignments and involve more staff members. Planned right eventually one of them can stand in for you when you are away. I’ve found this progressive arrangement works well in teams working on predictable, routine communications because risks are reduced and carefully managed.
The other approach is far bolder and better suited for organisations facing turbulence or growing rapidly. Here the PR leader will need all the help the team can supply. In situations where things are shifting swiftly, it might be best for the leader to trust first and hand over responsibility early.
Template for delegation
Whatever your approach, here’s a template for delegation to task staff, give them freedom to operate yet ensure the job gets done – something for which you always carry responsibility. Firstly pick staff for any new role based on their potential not their position then –
- Set down clear tasks.
- Establish workable time frames.
- Hand over necessary resources.
- Give people the authority to act and let the rest of the organisation about what and to whom you have delegated responsibilities.
- Step aside then let staff get on with the job.
- Be on hand to guide if asked.
- Set up review points to monitor progress.
- Give feedback, encouragement and credit during and when an undertaking finishes.
- If things don’t go as planned don’t give up. Arrange for additional training, counseling or greater levels of authority.
The PR advantage
Our PR industry is populated with action-oriented, ambitious people keen to strut their stuff. Which means delegation should be easy for a leader anxious to reduce her workload or take the organisation in new directions.
Over 25 years I have witnessed staff excel and thrive when given the chance. I have seen PR leaders who trust their staff enjoy happier and more productive workplaces. And staff who nail the opportunity when the boss delegates.