As many of us know, middle managers are disappearing because Baby Boomers are retiring, but also because companies have fewer entry-level workers to promote to middle management roles.
The Financial Post article, "Filling in the middle: The dangers of disappearing middle management," describes the skills gap that's been created by the lack of middle managers in the workplace. And it's far from an ideal situation.
This gap is affecting (and stressing out) teams across the country, including many marketing and corporate communications teams. And from what I have recently seen, many have been left with one or two senior staff at the top and a whole lot of junior employees, with very little in between.
Senior practitioners are being asked to delegate more to junior employees who don't yet have the right skills and knowledge to get the job done. This means they now need to actively oversee their colleagues' projects... on top of their many other roles and responsibilities.
Despite the fact that there isn't enough time in the day for this extra layer of work, they don't have the approval to hire professionals with the right experience levels to produce the results that are required. Not a happy or healthy environment to work in to say the least.
This type of situation has a serious impact on productivity, problem-solving and innovation.
It also leads to an unfortunate loss of institutional knowledge. And understandably so: the junior employees who are being delegated mid-level tasks are new to the industry and to their careers. We can't expect them to do or know more.
At Broad Reach, we're often brought in to solve issues like these, because clients recognize that solving this middle management gap will improve their financial and operational performance, and help their competitive position.
What is the alternative for these stressed out and overworked teams? How can they find some solace and enjoy getting the job done with little oversight?
Budget permitting, these teams can turn to PR agencies, many of whom are well-positioned to bridge these critical skills gaps and produce outstanding results because they are full of great communicators and project managers. This could be for a mat leave or for one to two days a week or to manage a particular project. PR professionals can parachute in and out of companies very easily and seamlessly, and when the job is done they are out.
Doesn't this make more sense that asking senior practitioners to just put their noses down and get the job done, no matter how many hours it takes or how much it interferes with their family/personal life? It will also help retain top talent...a key issue for many companies these days.
Here are a few easy ways PR agencies can bridge the skills gap:
• Strategy development. By asking the right questions, a PR firm can help you develop a communications strategy that aligns with your business needs and goals. They'll also ensure you have ways to keep your communications strategy on time and on budget.
• PR campaign execution. Perhaps you've developed the strategy in house, but don't have the manpower, experience or media relationships to achieve the results you need. A PR agency can easily and quickly step in to execute on your strategy and ensure a successful campaign.
• Media relations. Pitching media by phone or email takes time and skill, and you need to have the right relationships to generate either targeted or widespread coverage, depending on your goal. A PR agency can take this work off your plate, using dedicated, experienced media relations experts that are accountable to achieve results.
• Research and polling. The right content is the essence of every successful PR campaign or thought leadership report. Identifying and then developing the right content takes time and experience. Whether it's quantitative survey research or a qualitative study with focus groups and expert advice, a PR agency will have the resources and experience to deliver results.
• Sourcing third-party experts. To further increase the credibility of your message, working with a third-party expert is often the way to go. PR agencies are well connected to experts across various industries. They can help make the call, develop a strategy, and establish agreement guidelines for working with expert third parties.
• Media training. Most companies don't have a media trainer on staff, but if you're launching a big campaign, you (or your spokesperson) will be put in front of the media. Are you prepared? Do you know how to answer tough questions? Do you know how to control the interview? If not, a PR agency can help ensure you put your best foot forward during media interviews.
• Social media. Do you know that social media is important, but you just don't know how to use it effectively? PR agencies understand how social media can sell, create widespread awareness and engagement among target audiences. They can also help you create daily content to be posted on your channels. Social media is increasing in importance every day, and if you are not harnessing it as a tool, your competitors will.
• Crisis management. When an issue or crisis hits, it's all hands on deck. A PR agency can step in to build a fast and effective reputation management strategy, handle proactive and reactive media relations and/or social media campaigns, and help you deal with any negative fallout.
Have you used a PR agency to fill the middle manager gap? Tell us by leaving a comment below.
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