Is ‘hurry sickness’ holding you back in PR? Delegate.
One of the biggest dilemmas PRs face is that they are too busy to delegate. Many of those who I meet through PR training say they get caught in the trap of doing and delivering so that there isn’t enough time to step back, to think, to plan strategically. And some of us love the buzz of fire fighting so much that we forget to pass our knowledge on through good delegation.
According to Management Today, delegation is a skill in decline. So rather than constantly being switched ‘on’ and filling your memory like a smartphone, how can PR managers deal with incoming data and delegate more effectively?
1. Avoid ‘behave like me syndrome’
A phrase coined by Scott Blanchard who says, “Without a way to understand how we’re different, it is very easy to judge the other person as being somehow insufficient.” People differ, so give your PR colleagues a chance to shape more tasks their way.
2. Get your soldiers in order
Not everyone is the same as highlighted in this article by Harvard Business Review. Identify the members of your team who are highly capable and can be stretched to take on more responsibility. Who can operate more independently? Who is highly talented, can learn quickly with coaching? Who needs more guidance? Who isn’t ready for a step up? Or doesn’t want to?
Use this information to plan your delegation strategy and shape up your PR team.
3. Be colour happy
Delegation does not have an on and off switch. There are lots of levels in between.
Different shades of delegation ranging from hints of colour and pastels (where you might empower others to complete tasks in their own way) through to deep hues and primary colours (where you might specify exactly what you want others to do).
Here is an example of a very specific, controlled request – a ‘spot of scarlet’ delegation:
Can you research stories that tech journalists in the UK have written on this subject before and email them to by by 10am tomorrow, then I’ll decide what story angle to take.
This request is less controlling – a ‘gentle rose’:
Here are the objectives and key messages for the release. This is the angle I want you to take. I’d like you to draft the release and email it to me by 10am tomorrow.
This is the least controlling – a hint of ‘nude pink’
Why don’t you do what you think is right to get the media coverage. I don’t need any further communication on what you decide but am here if you want to fly your ideas by me.
4. Position task to motivate
As Simon Caulkin says in this article, you can get people to do the work by kicking them, but they can kick back. Giving them a good job to do, can be much more effective.
He quotes Frederick Herzberg, “motivation is internal and satisfaction comes from achievement, recognition, responsibility, the job itself, while dissatisfaction is due to external elements such as company policies”. So next time you delegate a task, do it in a way that taps into that person’s motivation.
5. Daily to do list
As Phil Ollery says, “Ensure that your people have a daily action plan, written down, with key action goals identified for the day”. This is especially important when managing PR campaigns as changing priorities and deadlines can take us off track.
6. Be consistent
Don’t pull delegated tasks back afterwards, or delegate sporadically when you don’t have time to do things because of last minute unexpected deadlines. This only confuses staff and threatens the relationship.
These tips help me delegate – what works for you?
My next open course is running on 13 June 2013 at the CIPR. Click here for details.