– An effective leader delegates effectively (2)
Last week, I started with some excerpts from my book “THE MODERN BRANCH MANAGER’S COMPANION”, and will finish with the second part, as I sign off my contributions in 2022.
The year has been with mixed feelings, the highs and the low moments, but in all things we still look up to the future. I overheard a colleague who told me about her experience working in a company. During a particular year, she did not receive her annual bonus. The reason? She was not delegating! Now you will realize that a leader is not just being called a Manager, but leaders must allocate resources, both human and others, and with teambuilding be able to delegate some aspects of his work. Now read on…..
The Case of the Branch Manager
Let us look at a case of delegation gone wrong in a financial institution. There was a manager who was a star salesman for the branch previously, and promoted to be a branch manager. He told some people in confidence “As for me, I will concentrate on my sales and marketing specialties and leave everything to the Operations manager. After all, he understands the transactions more, so when he signs documents, I am comfortable with everything done in my absence. The bank concentrates on the “bottom line’ and that’s where I come in”
Instead of asking to be trained for a better birds’ eye-view of the various units of the branch, and monitoring of sensitive transactions when he was not out, he just delegated everything and even his “password”, to get all things done in his absence. What do think of the case of the laisez-faire leadership style of the branch manager in this case study? Have you encountered one before? The result of this perfect laissez-faire attitude to delegation eventually resulted in him signing his death warrant. You can imagine the consequence! He was sanctioned for the frauds that was being perpetuated in the branch due to his negligence and over reliance on the Operations manager. He was demoted and transferred to a smaller unit where huis scope of work was negligible.
How to delegate
Now that you have identified why you have to delegate, what to delegate and when; let us see how we can do it well to adapt to our situations. Here are a few things to take note of during your first delegation assignment.
- What are the time- lines attached to this function?
- Will there be sufficient time to re-do the assignment when mistakes are encountered?
- What are the consequences when it is not completed on time?
If the above answers are not positive, then you would have to wait and do it yourself or do it with your direct report as he or she prepares for the next properly delegated assignment. If positive, then delegation starts. The following tips are helpful:
- Clear Expectations: These should be specific, clear, and complete, indicating the task, goals, responsibilities, and the constraints. Let all those whom your direct reports would be working with, be made aware of the new delegated responsibilities. Assume specific reports are now delegated, the subordinates of the direct reports would be expected to send their inputs to the new assignee.
- Provide the Requisite Resources: For a freshly delegated function, your direct report need all the resources required. Perhaps, you have been making do with the minimum, but this is the time you need to follow up on outstanding inputs to make the work easier; or you can’t be bothered and say to yourself “if I have been coping under the pressure, why can’t she or he?” No, that’s not the way. Don’t forget that you are still responsible. Be available and provide all the requisite information needed for a successfully delegated assignment. Don’t be afraid that your direct report is going to usurp your position. In reality, he or she should even submit a better report because you have successfully trained him or her. Do you know the final outcome? Promotion for you to do other more responsible assignments and be proud of it!
- Get Out of the way, but not too far away! This position is not easy. Don’t hover around too much. Do not micro-manage. Just do it once a while and ask how the delegated activity is going on. If you have really trained the person, your heart should not be in your mouth. If your direct report brings a problem to you, they must also bring proposed solutions for discussion. Assume you are a manager, and decides to make your Account Manager a leader of a sales drive in the neighbourhood. You have to set the pace by discussing the expectations and initial modalities, giving him leads and deadlines. During the assignment, you can ask him to give you an interim plan before the set off, and monitor and advise. But allow the team to bring new ideas and guide them occasionally, without being the team leader. For such an assignment, allow some creativity from them. Don’t become the person who solves their problems, otherwise, you will end up taking on their work. Your way is not necessarily the only or even the best way!
- Keeping Control: Ensure that your direct report knows the reason why he or she was chosen for the job, and agree a schedule for checking-in with progress updates. Also ensure that he or she knows that you want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for questions or guidance as the work progresses.
- Maintain accountability: It should be clear that your direct report has the responsibility for seeing the job well done. But remember that the ultimate accountability remains with you. In summary, stay involved but let your employee lead the way.
Reviewing the delegated assignment:
When delegated work is delivered back to you, set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, accept only good quality, fully-complete work. If you accept work you are not satisfied with, your team member has not learned to do the job properly. Worse than this, you accept a whole new tranche of work that you will probably need to complete yourself. Not only does this overload you, it means that you don’t have the time to do your own job properly.
Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and reward the effort. As a leader, you should get in the practice of complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building team member’s self-confidence and efficiency, which will be improved on the next delegated task; hence, you both win.
When managers delegate, they give someone else the authority to complete a task for which they remain ultimately responsible. The benefits of delegation are that it frees up your time, reduces your stress, motivates team members, and increases the team’s skills. These benefits, for you and your team, emphasize delegation as an essential managerial skill.
If you want to delegate successfully, follow these six steps.
- Select the task
- Select a suitable delegate
- Gain commitment
- Brief the delegate
- Supervise and support the delegate
- Review performance
Following the steps in the delegation process ensures that you effectively communicate your message and intentions to the delegate. Barriers to delegation are often based on negative feeling and other insecurities. Common barriers include feeling superior, lack of experience, insecurity, lack of confidence and insufficient time. Overcoming these barriers to delegation provides real benefits for you, your team and the organization.
Once you’ve started delegating more, pay attention to the results, and learn from your mistakes. Ask yourself how you can tweak your approach. Can you delegate more involving tasks? Should you give your direct reports more freedom? Do you need to monitor progress more closely? Be patient with yourself while you practise. “You’re going from an ‘I’m going to do everything because I know better than everyone’ mindset to ‘I’m going to let people learn’ mindset,”. It may take time, but the pay-off is great.
On this note I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year in 2023!
For more insights please book a copy of my new book, “THE MODERN BRANCH MANAGER’S COMPANION” which involves the adoption of a multi-disciplinary approach in the practice of today’s branch management. It also shares invaluable insights on the mindset needed to navigate and make a difference in the changing dynamics of the banking industry. Call 0244333051 for your personally delivered copy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.
Email:[email protected]alkanbiz.com or [email protected]