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Jul 17, 2019

Learning to Delegate

Delegate 7.15.19

You can’t do it all yourself nor should you want to. A public relations agency or other business has assigned roles and may have teams that serve clients. The roles include entry-level and senior positions and everything in between covering back-office, research, client relations, strategy and writing positions. While each person has specific responsibilities, there can be flexibility in who takes on which assignments. Each member of the team, regardless of their job title, has a unique set of skills and interests that transcend assigned job description. While the overall purpose remains how to best serve the client and gain results as defined by clients’ goals, we do not need to be entirely confined by our assigned roles and job titles. There can be room for new ideas and new ways of doing things based on personal preferences and skills and task assignments can be adjusted, accordingly. The key is for managers to be willing to delegate tasks to the team.

Many leaders do not feel comfortable delegating. They may feel that they can do it better themselves or at a minimum, more quickly. The problem with that tactic is that you cannot work 24/7 without risking burnout and if you do not delegate tasks to other team members they will not build their own capabilities. When deciding which tasks to delegate, the manager needs to see if a project is suitable for delegating to another. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have time to explain and support the team member?
  • Does anyone on the team have the skills needed to accomplish the task?
  • Should I be doing this myself e.g. writing a presentation with which you will need to be familiar to present to clients and/or high-level executives
  • Is it appropriate to delegate the task?

The last question is the most problematic for several reasons. A manager should not delegate tasks that have confidential or sensitive components or would require access to information that the employee would not or should not have. Moreover, in order to maintain employee morale, it is not wise to delegate tasks that you should be doing yourself or that set the person up for failure, for example a project for which the person lacks the time and resources to complete successfully.

In order to assure a successful delegation, it is important to:

  • Explain clearly what needs to be done, the purpose of the project, and the intended audience
  • Provide ample time to complete the project and explain the consequences if the project is not completed by the deadline
  • Empower the delegated employee to take ownership of the project and determine how to best complete the task without fear of micromanagement; and
  • Be available to answer questions and to make the employee feel comfortable in asking questions

Delegating to team members enables then to grow professionally and helps to create a succession plan within your agency or organization. By giving employees new tasks and challenges that are a step above their usual tasks, they will feel challenged and will you the manager a chance to take on new challenges, as well. The key is to make sure that the person giving the task is the right person for the task and they will benefit from the opportunity. Employees generally appreciate the confidence their leader has instilled in them and the willingness to help them advance as they learn new skills. Teamwork makes the dream work.

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