Today I am going to tell you a story… about Bob. Bob is a successful manager in a medium to large size company. He has a great track record and he makes things happen. He is loyal to the company and can see himself staying until retirement. He loves what he does.
But lately, he hasn’t been loving it quite as much. It seems like he is having to work harder and harder. Lately he has been staying late almost every night and working all day Saturday every week. His wife is starting not only to complain (she started doing that months ago), she is now starting to worry about his health. And his boss is also concerned.
You see, Bob is not only putting his health at risk, he is starting to put the company at risk.
First of all, if he actually had a heart attack or became ill, that would be a problem for the company clearly, as any person stepping into his shoes would not have Bob’s wealth of knowledge. And, his boss likes him, and really doesn’t want to see him become ill.
But that is a possible outcome, that will, hopefully, never happen. What is ACTUALLY happening right now is that Bob’s performance is dropping. Clearly, he is tired and as a result he is making mistakes. His work could always be relied upon and now there is some doubt about that. Also, he is slowing things down. Processes that could be different and better, are being cul-de-sac’d by Bob. In other words, they are getting to a certain place and then stopping and going backwards.
And Bob’s staff are becoming more and more demotivated, and are going through the motions at work. Instead of helping Bob, they seem happy to coast along as he works harder and harder.
Things needed to change.
I was asked to spend some time with Bob and see if I could identify what on earth was happening to this star performer.
As we spent some time together and talked, and as I observed his day and asked him about what and why he was doing things, it started to become clear to me what was happening. Bob didn’t trust his team. By that I don’t mean he thought badly of them. He certainly would trust them to take a phone call, and to not leave the office early, and to work hard. He trusted their intentions. But he did not trust their ability.
Which meant that he was doing a lot of stuff himself that he should have / could have been delegating. When questioned about that, it was clear that in the past something had happened, where Bob had trusted a member of his previous team to complete an important task and it had not been done, and as a result, as head of the department, Bob was held responsible.
Since that time, Bob had taken it upon himself to do more and more of the work that the team should have been doing, but far from ‘helping his team out’ or ‘taking the strain off them’ or ‘protecting them from making mistakes’ – he was actually demotivating them as they felt he didn’t trust them.
I suggested to Bob that he could try delegating something that was not crucial, something not on a deadline, where if a mistake WAS made, it would not be the end of the world. He reluctantly agreed to do so, whilst convinced it would be a disaster. He delegated part of one of his tasks to a team member, asking them ‘as he was so busy with deadlines to meet, could they help him out by having a go at doing this partial task’.
The next morning Bob rang me in an agitated state. ‘Oh No’ I thought for a split second, but then I heard him say “I can’t believe it, Julie. I am SO surprised. Not only did they do the bit I asked – which I thought they might struggle with and do it really well, they also completed the other bit that I was SURE they couldn’t do. And it was great”.
Well, needless to say, that bunch of tasks has now been permanently delegated. The staff members feel great about it, as it adds a level of interest to their job, they feel trusted and they like that feeling. Additionally – Bob felt great as he had just got rid of a task that used to take him a whole day a week. Well, there was no stopping Bob while he was on a roll.
We looked at what else he really should not be doing and who could possibly do it, and we found him 15 hours a week. So not only does he now NOT have to come in at the weekend, he has a few chunks of time free in the week too, which he can use to develop himself and the business further. Result!
So – if you feel like you are running around like a headless chicken, with never enough time; if you are working longer and longer hours and doing stuff you have a vague suspicion you should NOT be doing – why don’t you take up one of our monthly free strategy sessions, where we can have a look at where YOU might be able to save 15 hours a week. You’d be surprised!!
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