Manage Your Marketing: The Fine Art of Delegating

8299650164_9b969d6b0c_mYou get a phone call or an email from your client or your boss. “I have a great idea for our campaign,” they say. Sometimes you might get a layout or you might get a call for a new brainstorming campaign even though you are already in progress. “It’s not the client’s job to plan the campaign,” you might mutter to yourself. The client’s job, so agency folk believe, is to critique what the agency has created. Sometimes, however, the client or the boss is so desirous of having their stamp on the project that they can’t relinquish control over the process.

As a marketer, you commonly recognize problems caused by a lack of delegation. Whether you are an agency person working with a client contact who does not delegate well or whether you are on a marketing team with a leader that does not delegate well, the inability of key personnel to share responsibilities can create a myriad of problems. Among those problems are:

A bottleneck of information where the team is not getting all (or any) of the information they need.

Needless repetition of work. If the leader of a team is working on a project in parallel with the rest of the people involved, someone’s time is being wasted. This creates bad feelings across the board.

A clear display that communication is broken. If, for example, a client has not provided the agency with all pertinent information, the agency may present something that falls short of what the full client team was expecting. The agency is then left with the distasteful proposition of either receiving criticism on work that lacked proper input from the client or throwing a contact “under the bus.”

These are obvious effects of a lack of delegating on the part of key personnel, but there can be more subtle ramifications as well. If you do not delegate well, the people you are working with will feel you do not trust them to do the job. People may lose interest if they feel they are not fully woven into the marketing team, whether within a company or at an agency.

Why do we have trouble delegating?

Many reasons. As marketers, as we have discussed so many times, our plates are always full. Perhaps we don’t delegate because of the old rationale, “By the time I explain it, I could have it done already.” Maybe the pressure to get everything right makes us feel like we had better just run with a project. We know the most about it. What if someone else misses something accidentally? These may even be completely logical responses to our work environments. But they can damage our positions in the long run.

The double-edged sword of being a marketer

When you are a marketer, you need to be organized, on top of things, and ahead of the game at all times. This can shine the light on facets of your personality that might also make you inclined to avoid delegation. It’s a fine line. Leading a project is not the same as controlling it. Planning a campaign is not the same as brainstorming with a group. It is a fine line we must dance to make sure work gets done in the most effective, efficient way possible. Straying too far to one side or the other can, as we have illustrated, cause a lot of heartache down the road.

Do you delegate or do you find that you cling to all responsibilities with white-knuckled hands? We’d love to hear from you!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/idhren/8299650164 via Creative Commons


6 comments on “Manage Your Marketing: The Fine Art of Delegating

  1. Delegate…yes! I find that some of my clients like to micro-manage to the point that their white-knuckled hands need to be pried from the task. I counsel: tell someone what you want done…the end result…the outcome…the product. Let them figure out how to get there. Delegate. Empower. Assist with course corrections if necessary. Debrief. Learn. I say, you can make a mistake, but you’ll make that particular mistake only once 🙂 Cheers! Kaarina

    • Of course it’s understandable these days why some people don’t want to delegate. Money is tight, time is tight, pressure is high. Why risk it if you feel you can just do it yourself, or do it better yourself? But we all know that pragmatically this does not end up well for the home team.

  2. Margie –

    In order to delegate, one must accept that everyone does not think and behave like you do. The chief must communicate the objective clearly enough so that the subordinates can give him what he wants. He must also be accepting that the result is likely to be different than if he had done it himself.

    If you are going to have support staff you must give them the latitude to do their jobs without interference.


    • Absolutely. A lot of it is about trust. Trusting yourself to monitor things, trusting your employees or co-workers to pull their weight. If you can’t trust each other your work is probably going to struggle anyway. By not delegating you are indicating a lack of trust even if that is not the case really. So yes, communication as always is at the core of the issue.

  3. Definitely not limited to marketers. As a software developer and data architect, who frequently came up with creative, elegant solutions…and developed those solutions faster than most…it was hard to start delegating those responsibilities. I knew I could do it better, faster, and with less upfront requirements because I could see the solution in my head.

    To take that solution in my head, and convey it to someone else with the hopes they could bring it to life, took valuable time…and introduced higher probability for errors either in design or actual function. And it would still take my time to do the requirements, mentor the other resources through the solution, and then test for bugs and overall design accuracy.

    But you have to delegate in order to scale. If you want to stay an Army of One, then that is fine. But if you hope to grow a company, you must start mentoring people in “your way of doing things”. Then, be willing to wait for them to succeed or fail…and pick them up when they fail because know they’ve probably learned a few lessons from the school of hard knocks.

    I see this on Leadership teams, also. A dominating CEO can sometimes micro-manage other people on the Executive team (or manager/director level) to the point they second guess all of their decisions. That is not a scalable and sustainable solution.

    Delegate – for the win!

  4. I suffer from this problem a lot – as you have probably noticed. If I find myself having to explain something that comes as second nature to me, that seems like a poor way to use my time. Why not just DO the thing and you can explain it when something does not need to be done? It’s very unhealthy to think this way, however, as you mentioned.

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