February 13, 2020
As I’ve blogged about previously, marketing PR leaders can’t counsel the C-Suite while they’re busy running events. Agency owners can’t generate new business while up to their eyeballs running the business they currently have, and communications leaders (whether at a travel destination, non-profit organization or marketer) can’t focus on strategy while mired in tactics.
Since you can’t create more hours in the day, your only possible choice is effective delegation.
I’m still surprised by the numbers of professionals who report having trouble doing this, or worse, don’t realize that this is a skill they sorely need but lack.
In full transparency, during my consumer marketing PR agency days, delegating was an issue for me. You may suspect it’s one for you as well. A great way to confirm this is to find someone who reports to you, stare them right in the face, and ask: “Do you think I could delegate more effectively?”
Their eyes will tell you all you need to know. If you don’t like what you see, here are a dozen tips that I believe you’ll find helpful, and I sure wish someone had shared with me, back in the day:
Many team members don’t ask for more responsibility because they think they’re too busy, have fear of failure or, based on previous experience or observation, don’t truly believe you’ll give them what they want: ownership.
Have a plan to overcome these by a) giving them added support from those who report to them, or perhaps more realistically, the tools they need to become better time managers; b) encourage them to take educated risks and let them know you’ll be their safety net; and c) demonstrate your lack of interest in owning the assignment or role.
So don’t wait for responsibility to be taken. Instead, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers once sang “Give it away/give it away/give it away/give it away now!”
So fight that urge!
Instead, articulate discuss what the end result must be, and let them determine how to get there. You’ll not only be encouraging enhanced assignment ownership but laying the foundation for the employee to contribute on a higher level going forward. Common sense dictates that someone will complete a job better if they feel a sense of ownership, and that can only occur when they figure out the “how.” So let them!
That said, unless you’re Michelangelo creating the statue of David, perfection is impossible to achieve. So how is asking your staffer to achieve the impossible motivating or setting them up for success?
For many, that push towards perfection is simply an excuse to not allow someone else to own a task or project. Be satisfied with the fact that the person to whom you’ve delegated the assignment won’t do as good a job as you would have. And remember that in the big picture, their “Very Good” job on the task is actually better than your “Excellent” job, because you’re now doing your real job, whether that’s setting the long-term vision for your organization or department, counseling the CEO, building the business, or other critical tasks that are the most important part of your job.
One of the benefits of delegating–a task, a entire project, or leading a sub-group of employees–is that the person to whom you’ve delegated to will bring a new set of eyes, skills and experience. While they might not do it as you would do it, they’ll most likely improve it in some way. Be on the lookout for this. It will make you feel comfortable delegating even more to that staffer, and may open your eyes to other assignments in which they’ll be particularly successful and bring even greater value to your organization, your prospects, and stakeholders.
And here’s something else: Many of the professionals who work for you will actually do things better than you. That both strengthens your organization and allows you to focus on your most critical roles: Setting the vision, creating the strategy, giving senior counsel and, as appropriate, growing the business.
I hope these tips provide value you and encourage you to start to delegate and to do so more effectively. Please reach out if you believe you or others on your team need more help in effective delegation.
Ken Jacobs is the principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching, which empowers PR and communications leaders and executives to breakthrough results via executive coaching, and helps communications agencies achieve their business development, profitability, and client service goals via consulting and training. You can find him at www.jacobscomm.com firstname.lastname@example.org @KensViews, or on LinkedIn.