I’ve managed creative people outside of the church world for over 20 years and those insights have been a big help inside the church. Delegating and managing creative people is an important part of my role here at Crossway as communications pastor. But it’s not easy.
The art and science of delegation is one that I have learned in the trenches of actually doing the work and being a part of teams at various levels. This isn’t something that can be taught in a classroom—the only way to learn is through experience. Throughout the years I’ve made more mistakes than I care to remember. But I think I’ve finally figured out the mechanics of delegation.
I’ve found there are four steps to delegating well. Everyone is at a different stage of their journey as a creative, so you have to figure out where individuals currently are. This impacts the level of delegation you give them.
- I do/They watch
Most of the time I am doing the heavy lifting on a project. They are primarily observing and learning, or picking up the easy bits here and there. I still make all the larger decisions and have the final say.
- I do/They help
They have a voice in the creative and idea or content development. They participate and do some more of the lifting to get the project across the line.
- They do/I help
They now have the chops to lead in their area of competency. I am now just a guide and pitch in to help when I see the need arise. If they can do 70% of what I’m capable of at this level, then I believe they are ready for the next step. At this level it is really important to start off with giving them a very comprehensive creative brief—either verbal or written is fine. But the more in tune with my thinking at the start, the better.
- They do/I watch
I love this stage. They can now do the project on their own. I just need to ensure that deadlines are met and the production parameters are kept.
This methodology of delegation works best if you and your student are in the same creative disciplines. Writers learn best from writers, designers learn best from designers. If you’re managing others with completely different skill sets then these guidelines might not work as well.
What have you seen that works for you in delegating?Photo by Thomas Hawk.