Remember the importance of career development – Ginny Paton

“Do you remember the worst place where you’ve ever worked?” asks Ginny Paton. Of course you do – and I bet the employers didn’t listen to you and didn’t give any thought to how to get the best out of you.

How did it leave those who worked there feeling? They were unmotivated, and eventually… they left.

There are places like this that you hear about in PR, where staff churn is high and the atmosphere is terrible. It gives our industry a bad name, but the truth is that such places rarely survive for long.

I’m sure you remember the best place you worked as well. They made you feel like you were more than a mere cog in the machine, that you were valued for your ideas and your unique point of view. That’s achieved with a decent career development.

If a PR agency doesn’t offer career development for their staff, then the work they will get out of them will be second rate. That’s why places like the ones that I mentioned at the start are gradually dying out – because they’re saddled with low standards of work from their employees.

Ginny Paton’s tips for contributing to the professional growth of PR people:

  1.  It’s the best thing that we can do to help young people to develop. We have to get better at giving our up and coming comms people the skills they need, in everything from strategic planning to crisis communications. Not to mention the growing technical skills of digital and SEO.
  1. We can’t simply leave our employees to continue to do what we’ve always expected of them – they will start to feel bored and will inevitably look elsewhere for the kind of opportunities that they crave.
  1. Flexible and remote working. Insisting on 100% attendance in the office is outmoded and doesn’t recognise the fact that people work best when given the opportunity to work in different environments. And we also need to recognise the importance of flexibility for young parents coming back to work.
  1. Talk to them. It’s a really important point, and can be easily forgotten. Talk to them about what they hope for the future, and provide guidance on how they can get there. And you shouldn’t hold this back for the annual appraisal – it needs to happen all the time.

Get all four right and you’ll get the best out of your staff.

It reminds me of when I started out in PR. There were certain bosses who gave me opportunities that I probably wasn’t quite ready for. Terrifying opportunities, but ones that helped me to learn, to prove myself and to build a degree of self-confidence that made me think that one day I could run a PR agency.

So, take your employees out of their comfort zone every now and then – you’ll see them grow as a consequence.