Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Make the case for a staffing increase

One of the questions I get often about managing a small communications department is related to staffing. More specifically, I am often asked, how did you grow your team from two to five in four and a half years? My answer is always, I justified the need for additional staff with senior management.

I first began by looking closely at every line item in the department budget. This allowed me to see where I could find funding for contract staff. Because I manage a department that is responsible for a municipal channel, I new we needed a contract videographer. And, because we didn’t have brand guidelines when I began work for my current employer, nor any of the core policies that most communications department already have in place, I knew we needed graphic design support.

After careful review of the budget, I had a small contract budget for both videography and graphic design work. I used a contractor for nearly two years before I made the request to senior management to add a videographer on staff. In the request, I highlighted the successes of the contractor, which included more local programming, heightened presence on social media and an increase in the participation of our target audience in programs and services. Those tangible successes, led to the first addition of a staff member to my small communications department. We were then, a team of three, with a full time Videographer/Editor on staff.

About, six months later, we had new leadership of the municipality I work for. He had previously served in a communications role and understood the importance of good, solid communications. So, I guess my second piece of advice is, “Find your advocates.” Because he understood the role of a communications department, he supported my efforts to increase staff. There was a marketing position in another department and in an organizational restructure, he moved that position to the Communications Department, completely centralizing our communications structure, which increased our team by 1 more full-time staff member. And, shortly after, we added a part time position to increase our team to 5. Another thing I would point out, is that you must survey your current organization and look at individuals already doing the work. It could make sense for those individuals to be on your team. This will, however, depend on your current structure and how much time they are currently spending doing communications work. 

So, in short, it takes a little work to get more staff, well actually, a lot of work. But, make the justification, find your advocates, be able to show your successes and of course, do good work and you will be well on your way to getting the staffing support you need. 

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