Note: This is the third in a series of interviews with industry leading scholars, CEOs, founders and consultants on the subject of managed. The interviews were conducted by Rob Cahill, CEO of the management-training and education firm Jhana. Find the first article here. Last week’s is here.
It’s easy to be awed by Anjanette Hill-Mendoza. With nearly two decades of experience in client success management at companies like Cisco WebEx, E-Trade and most recently as a VP at Glassdoor, she’s a professional force to be reckoned with. But we’ve all got to start somewhere, so I asked Anjanette to look back on her days as an inexperienced manager. Our conversation quickly turned to the fine art of delegation.
Many new managers, myself included, have struggled with delegation (to be honest, I’m still working on it). It turns out Anjanette is no exception. She says, “As a new leader, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of work you have to do. The balance between understanding how much you personally own and how much you delegate is a delicate one.”
She describes a time at Cisco WebEx when her team was scaling rapidly and absorbing new acquisitions, processes and remote teams as far away as India. “Though I was spread incredibly thin, I was so new in leadership that I had a hard time initially trusting those on my team to take on some of the tasks needing to be done to keep the ship sailing smoothly. It was only after a rather frank conversation with my own leader that I realized, not only was I killing myself trying to get it all done and not doing any of it incredibly well, I was also denying my team members the ability to learn something new, empowering them to take on new tasks.”
To become a more effective delegator, Anjanette spent a lot more time learning about her direct reports’ strengths and where they aligned to her department’s projects and priorities. It made all the difference.
“This simple thing not only freed up the items on my plate, allowing me to be more strategic with our business, but allowed them to take on more projects that helped them grow professionally and gain visibility in the organization,” she says. “It literally changed the way we did business and propelled some of them in to new careers.”
This might sound like a lot of extra work, but according to Anjanette, it’s worth it. She states that understanding your team’s strengths, motivators and career goals is the most important thing you can do as a manager.
“It’s more important than understanding how to run your budget or how to look at a spreadsheet or even how your product works in everyday life. Without the people on your team, your business simply stops. They are truly the most valuable resource in your organization, so take the time to foster and grow them and with them. This will help you and your organization grow.”