The one- to three-people communication teams I work with are often resource constrained: Demand for support outpaces their capacity. And if you’re the person leading that team, there’s enormous pressure to balance strategic thinking with getting the work done.

Your first step should be to establish a clear service model—that helps you prioritize assignments and determine where you’ll provide support. But you also need to manage your time, so you can juggle developing communication plans, coaching leaders and other stakeholders, and completing tasks and projects.

Delegating is your next step. Answer these four questions with the goal of identifying work that can be assigned to others. Keep in mind, you will not necessarily list everything you do. And your list may need updates every week or so. 

  • Are there chunks of regularly occurring work I can carve off? For example, a weekly blog post by the VP of compliance or organizational announcements.
  • Is there a distinct project that can be supported—from strategy to implementation? For example, the head of IT approached you about helping with the move to Office 365.
  • Where can I use help to get the party started? For example, developing a communication plan or conducting research before planning begins.
  • Where do I need expertise or knowledge? Perhaps you have never measured the effectiveness of your internal communication program and it’s one of your objectives this year.

Now consider the resources you have to help with the assignments you identified. Some of these resources will be free and others will require budgets. 

  • Your team. Divide and conquer!
  • Colleagues. There are often people scattered around the business who are interested in learning about communication and would love the chance to contribute. Of course, this depends on availability and your bandwidth to coach (if necessary).
  • Your internal network. There may be other communicators in your organization who don’t report to you but could support your work. Try forming a formal communicators’ network.
  • Your external network. Reach out to members of associations or your LinkedIn contacts. They can provide advice and examples of how they handled challenges.
  • Outside experts. There’s a broad range of support here—from single practitioners (writer or graphic designer or video producer) to small agencies (that’s us!) and large complex firms. Obviously, budget is a big factor, but you’ll need a mix of trusted partners if you’re to think strategically, try new approaches and keep up with implementation.

My rule of thumb: I like to leave 25% of my time open, so I can deal with late-breaking issues and spend time thinking strategically.

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