Are You A Rescuing or A Supportive Manager

Have you ever delegated some work to a team member (whether that's in-house or remote) and they failed to deliver on time? It didn't hit the quality you expect so you end up lurching in to rescue the situation? 

If that happened to you or something you fear, then you are not alone. That's what we're going to cover in today's episode of the podcast. So, let's jump in with some practical tips on what you can do to start changing this.

Time Stamp

[01:00] How to delegate and let go (even if you don’t have a team today)

[01:40] A definition of a RESCUING manager vs. a SUPPORTIVE manager

[03:05] 5 Tips to stop being a RESCUING manager

[03:32] 1. It all starts with developing the right Mindset

[05:08] 2. Work on being a great delegator

[06:45] 3. Slow down to speed up - invest time in delegating and communicating clearly

[07:33] 4. Be a coach/mentor manager rather than a directive/telling manager

[08:31] 5. Have clarity around who is responsible for what tasks and develop clear roles & responsibilities

[09:45] If you keep RESCUING your team, you will demotivate them. And it will lead to staff retention issues

[10:49] Be the captain of your ship


“Ask yourself if you are a rescuing manager or a supportive manager?” - Rob Da Costa
“Telepathy doesn't exist so make sure you delegate effectively.” - Rob Da Costa
““Be the captain of your ship, standing on deck, spotting the iceberg up ahead” - Rob Da Costa

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 Full Episode Transcription

Do you recognise this scenario where you delegate some work to remember of your team, whether an in-house team or a remote worker and then they fail to deliver on time or to the quality that you expect, so you end up lurching to rescue the situation? Now, if that's happened to you or it's something that you fear, then know that you are not alone. And that's what we'll cover in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast. So let's jump in with some practical tips and what you can do to start changing this.

I'm Rob Da Costa, and this is The Agency Accelerator Podcast as someone who has stood in your shoes, having started, grown and sold my own agency and just how it feels in the ups and downs of agency life. So this podcast aims to ease your journey just a little by sharing mine and my guests' experiences and advice as you navigate your way to growing a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable business. So a common conversation that I have with my private clients and with myself running agency members is all about how they can effectively delegate and let go and trust that their team members are actually going to get the task done rather than having to kind of keep an eye on it and then often lurching into rescue a situation.

Now, this is relevant to you, even if you don't have a team today, because, at some point, you're going to start working with a visa, a remote worker, a freelancer, or even higher your first employee. And at that stage, these issues will quickly come to the forefront. If you're not mindful of this situation and follow the advice that I'm about to give in this episode, let's kick things off by giving a definition of what I mean by a rescuing manager versus what I mean by a supportive manager.

And let's actually talk about what those two scenarios look like as the owner of your agency. One of the things we really like to be is in control. In fact, that's one of the three core reasons why people start their own businesses. So as you grow, the desire to keep control is something you really have to challenge yourself with. Look, the temptation to rescue is strong. I totally understand that we're all tempted to jump in because we can think we can get something done quickly, or we believe we can do it better than the other person.

But they're in mind that when you do this, you are creating problems for yourself and for your team member. Because they don't learn anything, they take no responsibility, and then, in the end, you encourage them to be the victim, with you being the rescuer. And second, whilst you're investing time in rescuing a situation and fundamentally doing someone else's job, that means you're not doing your own. And then there are a bunch of key strategic tasks that you should be doing that you don't, and therefore the ball gets dropped because you are flying in to rescue a situation.

On the other hand, the supportive manager will take the time to delegate effectively and make sure that their team members understand what good looks like and what the outcome is and spend time showing them what to do. So you just need to look at yourself and say, Am I currently being the rescuing manager or am I behaving like a supportive manager? Okay, so I want to share with you five tips to start changing this because I think if we are all honest, we're going to raise our hands and say, "Hey, Rob, actually, I am quite that rescuing manager sometimes, and I find it really difficult to change that".

So I want to share with you five tips to begin moving from being a rescuing manager to being a supportive manager. So before we even start talking about strategies to get your team member to behave appropriately, we need to look at ourselves first of all, so let's talk about mindset. That's my first tip because the longer I work in the agency world, the more I realise that so much of your success will be based on mindset, whether that's thinking about it from this topics perspective or looking at pricing or imposter syndrome, or believing in yourself and so on.

If you want to stop being a rescuing manager, then you first need to tackle your own mindset. So that means, first of all, being willing to give your team members the space to find their own way and do it their own way, and you let him go and let them do that. And second of all, what? In order for that to happen, you need to ask the right question. So the question need to ask yourself is, "Will they do it well enough? Not will they do it as well as me?"

So I'm going to say that again. Will they do it well enough so that the client is happy, or so the job gets done rather than will they do it as well as me? Because if you expect everyone to do it as well as you or even the same way as you, then every single time, you're going to be sorely disappointed. And, of course, that means you are going to swoop in to rescue the situation because you believe that unless they are much use, the job isn't well enough. 

So my first tip is I really want you to challenge your own thinking around this and your own mindset and be willing to give the team members of space and the ability to do it their own way and recognise that doing their own way might be different to yours. But if it gets the right outcome, then you should let them do it even to be honest, if it takes a little bit longer and remembers to ask the right question, which is, "Will they do it well enough so that the client is happy, as opposed to?"

Will they do the same as me? So that's tip number one. Tip number two is to be a great delegator. It amazes me how many people kind of know what the outcome is in their heads. They communicate very poorly. They assume that osmosis or telepathy exists so that somehow the other person will know what's in their head, and they will understand what good looks like, and they will magically deliver a great result. And guess what, guys? When that happens, they are always going to be disappointed.

The team member will make loads of assumptions and fill in the blanks, which are often wrong, and you have been a really poor delegator. Tip number two is to be a great delegator, and this is a really good skill to acquire, and it amazes me how many people are not very good at it, and often when you think about how we started our own agency, we know what we know. We may not have had great role models in the past in terms of delegating to us. So we just assume that people will get things right.

I remember what happens when we make assumptions. Now there are nine steps to great delegation. I don't want to turn this podcast into a podcast about delegation, but I'm going to share a lot with you. I think, in the show notes, grab my free guide on the nine steps to great delegation because you won't get anything else, right? If you are not a good delegator. So that is the tip number to work on being an excellent delegator and communicating really effectively. So your team member knows what needs to be done.

They know what the outcome is and what good looks like. And they know the specific deadlines for that particular task. Okay, tip number three follows from tip to being a great delegator, and that is that you need to recognise that you need to slow down to speed up, slow down. Speed-up is one of my favourite expressions. And what I mean in this context is to slow down to invest the time in delegating correctly in order to ultimately get your team members to take responsibility and to do the task effectively in the future.

So the reality is, in the first instance, you may not actually save any time whatsoever versus spending that time showing someone versus doing it yourself. But ultimately, you will save yourself a lot of time and grief if you slow down to speed up to effectively delegate to your team members so that they will deliver the task well. And, of course, in the future, when they need to do it again, they'll now understand what they need to do. And on that, let's move on to tip number four, which is to make sure you are a mentor when dealing with your team.

And that means once you've shown them how to do something, you ask them questions rather than tell you to show rather than do because at the end of the day, if you just tell them what to do, you kind of create robotic victims who will take no responsibility, whereas you've shown them what to do and then you watch them doing it, and then you ask them questions. You know, a lot of the time, team members will default to us and say, "What's the answer to this?". Or they might even say, "I don't know".

So you need to ask them questions such as, "What would you do if I wasn't here or what do you think the answer is?". So that is tip number four, which is to make sure your management style is one of coaching and mentoring when it comes to dealing with your team's inquiries rather than just telling them what to do. Because if you do tell and what to do, then they will never learn anything. So that is tip number four. And finally, tip number five is making sure that you have clarity around who does what now.

I banged the drum a lot about having clear roles and responsibilities in your agency that define the functional role that your team will carry out. So, for example, I might have an account manager role and responsibilities, and this shows what an account manager should be doing. And then I have some specific time-bound objectives that are specific to the individual's development, so that might be things like going on a copyrighting course or leader meeting or whatever it might be. Those are specific to the individual, but the roles and responsibilities are specific to the job function, and it's really important that people understand what they should be doing and what success looks like in a job so that when you do ask them to take on a task when you are delegating something, they don't think they're doing you a favour because they don't think that's what they should be doing in their job.

But rather, they understand entirely that it falls within their remit, and it's something they should be taking responsibility for. So having clarity around roles and responsibilities will really save you a lot of grief, and we'll give you more chances for your team member to embrace seeing the task that you're asking them to do. So that's my fifth tip and as a bonus tip or a piece of advice is that if you continually sweep into rescue your team members, ultimately they're going to feel like there's absolutely no opportunity for them to develop in their role, and they're also going to feel like they've got a really controlling manager or leader, and this will ultimately lead you to staff retention issues.

So whilst at the moment, it feels like the natural thing to do to jump in and sort out our problem or get that piece of work over to a client as quickly as possible and then move on to the next challenge on the next fire. Ultimately, there are so many more negatives to doing this than benefits. So you really need to start catching yourself and asking yourself, "Am I being the rescuing or the supportive manager?" Okay, another short episode, but one that is packed with value. And if you follow those five tips, then ultimately, you're going to make sure that you are a really motivating and inspirational leader and that you are getting work off your plate to free you up to do the things that only you can often do like in the leader to an agency of the captain of a ship.

And you should be on deck plotting the course and looking out for those icebergs. But if you think you can make the beds better than anybody else or you can cook better than anybody else, then you're not going to be on the bridge. And guess what? There's an iceberg up ahead that no one's looking at because that is your job. And yet you are too busy doing everybody else's job. So hundreds of reasons why you really want to make sure that you are an inspirational, supportive manager and not to rescuing manager.

Okay, hope you found this useful. Please do share this episode with anyone that you think needs to hear this. And, of course, please make sure you subscribe so that you get alerted when the episode goes live. And if you've enjoyed it and you get value from this, then please do consider leaving a review on apple podcasts. I've even created a short video which is put in the links in the show notes that tell you exactly how you can leave a review. I really appreciate that because it means the algorithm will automatically show this podcast to more people just like you.

Which means I get to help more people just like you. But other than that, I hope you have a fantastic rest of the week and a relaxing weekend and make sure you're an inspirational, supportive manager. But other than that, I will see you next week for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast.

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