LO1: Understand own ability to fulfil key responsibilities of the leadership role
AC 1:1 Evaluate own ability to use a range of leadership styles, in different situations and with different types of people, to fulfil the leadership role.
I believe that a range of leadership styles are necessary to meet the requirements of both the organisation and the team members working for that organisation. There are a number of leadership theories and I will utilise two, the Hersey-Blanchard situation leadership model and Peter Drucker’s ‘management by objectives’ in order to illustrate my leadership style.
The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership theory understands that leadership style must be varied, dependent upon both the ‘level of maturity’ of the team members, and the task itself. To Hersey and Blanchard, leadership styles stem from four basic behaviours, designated with a letter-number combination:
• S-1 Telling, where the leader directs the team, telling people what to do and how to do it.
• S-2 Selling, where the leader provides information and direction to the team, in effect ‘selling’ the message in order to ensure that the team will be on board with the task requirement, and providing support as necessary.
• S-3 Participating, here the leader works with the team, sharing decision making responsibilities.
• S-4 Delegating, where the leader will pass on most of the responsibility for the task required to the individual or the team, monitoring progress where required.
As the maturity level of the team increases, focus is more on the relationship with the team/individual, and less on direction, resulting in the leader expending less effort, for more effective results. However, this is linked to the maturity level of the tam.
Four maturity levels of the group are defined by Hersey and Blanchard as follows:
• M-1: basic incompetence or unwillingness in doing the task
• M-2: inability to do the task but willing to do so
• M-3: competent to do the task but do not think they can
• M-4: the group is ready, willing, and able to do the task.
According to this theory, ability level and willingness to do work can be encouraged and increased by a good leader who raises the level of expectations.
This is relevant to my role as I have overall responsibility for the delivery of high quality case work for The Property Ombudsman, a non-profit making, redress scheme considering complaints from consumers primarily about the actions of estate agents or letting agents. We have approximately 30 members of staff who seek to resolve the disputes and these staff are divided between two team, both managed by an Adjudicator Manager. I have overall leadership of the teams and, under the prescribed delegated authority, I must sign off any cases where we are making a compensatory award of more than £1,000. This means that I must ensure that all staff are aware of our approach to ensure consistent and correct decision making.
The Adjudicators in each team deal with complex cases. In the past each Adjudicator was allocated the next case in the queue of cases, all dealt with in strict time order. However, this did not seem to be the best approach and I introduced a system, at the beginning of 2017, whereby both the Adjudicators and cases are graded. Adjudicators are graded level 1 to 4, depending on skill and ability levels, and the Adjudicator Managers are tasked with grading the cases according to complexity, again on a 1 to 4 level. We now require an Adjudicator to work on cases of the appropriate level, i.e. a level 1 Adjudicator, those with least experience will deal with level one cases, those deemed to be the least complex.
Any Adjudicator, or their Manager, will discuss cases with me if they are unsure about the outcome or award. The skills level of the Adjudicators varies considerably, with those at level one generally showing a maturity level 2 under the Hersey and Blanchard model, in that they are willing to consider the case, and want to make the correct decision, but lack the confidence to do so, often unsure about our approach as they have not come across that type of case before. In such cases, my leadership approach will mirror that of S2, in affect I will make the decision but ‘sell’ the reasoning in that I provide information and direction. I need the Adjudicator to understand why we make the decision that we do, and I need to ensure that they accept the logic, in effect that they are on board with the task requirement, and providing support as necessary.
However, I will take a different approach to level 4 Adjudicators. These Adjudicators are experienced individuals, who are tasked to write the most complex cases. I will ensure that the cases are allocated to them, and will monitor progress in that I ensure monthly that they are meeting target number, but I will only interview if my specific assistance is requested Should a level 4 Adjudicator raise a query, I will take on board that they have the necessary expertise and skills to carefully consider a case, and assistance will only be sought for a very complex cases, that they will have thought through carefully and generally they will be seeking confirmation of their approach. On such a query, we will discuss together and work together constructively to ensure that we have considered all points to arrive at the correct decision. I am fully aware that the level 4 Adjudicators prefer to work independently, and are able to do so, and are committed to ensuring that they cases are correct, only seeking guidance as required. I am comfortable to pass the reasonability for completing the cases onto these individuals, and will monitor progress as necessary.
The organisation has dealt with over 3,500 complex complaints in 2017, an increase form 3,000 in 2016 and I consider that the introduction of grading both the individual Adjudicators and the cases, has allowed me to focus on those at the lower end of the Hersey and Blanchard maturity levels, to enable me to fulfil the leadership and management role of leading the teams on a successful manner, ensure that I target my leadership style in an appropriate way to allow the careful consideration of cases by those with the requisite expertise.
Another management style is that of Peter Drucker’s ‘management by objectives’. This is a performance management approach in which a balance is sought between the objectives of employees and the objectives of an organisation. Setting challenging but attainable objectives promotes motivation and empowerment of employees. By increasing commitment, managers are given the opportunity to focus on new ideas and innovation that contribute to the development and objectives of organisations.
In Autumn 2017 I was tasked with introducing Quality Assurance to the organisation. I considered this to be imperative for two reasons. First, the Adjudicators have differing authority to sign off cases themselves, depending on their level, for example, level 4 Adjudicators may send out cases where the compensatory award is less that £1,000, level 3 Adjudicators where the award is less than £500, level 2 Adjudicators for those cases where the award is less than £250 (level 1 Adjudicators are required to have all their cases signed off by a Manager).and hence some cases are sent out without being seen by a manager. It was considered important, in accordance with good governance, to be able to evidence that quality controls checks were in place.
Secondly, having introduced the grading of Adjudicators into levels, dependent on ability, I also wanted to implement an evidence based approach to progression, with Adjudicators able to demonstrate, from a selection of their work, that they were exceeding the demands of their current level.
I was aware that some Adjudicators were going to struggle with the idea of Quality Assurance, and hence I made the decision that I would speak to the whole team in November 2017 to introduce the idea, explaining that we would work together to develop the objectives throughout 2018. All Adjudicators are award, from their job description and key performance indicators, that their role is to produce quality decision to the target number agreed, but, in the past, we have not set out what is meant by ‘quality’. I spoke to the team to explain why we were introducing Quality Assurance, reminding them that our Vision and values refer to provide a fair and impartial resolution service and we need to be able to evidence this. Once we had talked this through, and I had explained why this was necessary, I moved on to how we would cover this. This was to be by way of a random sampling of cases on a quarterly basis, each case being graded against 12 objectives. I provided the list of objectives and took on board the Adjudicators comments, to fine tune and agree the list. I placed great emphasis on the point that in the first trial year Quality Assurance would be utilised to identify training needs, and facilitate evidence based progression, explaining that we were likely to develop this model further to score cases, which would lead to a requirement of a certain score being achieved to work at each level. Feedback obtained was very positive; most Adjudicators expressed satisfaction that the 12 objectives were clear and attainable, albeit challenging and they expressed the view that knowing clearly what was required on every case was motivational and empowering, understanding that career progression would now be factually demonstrated by them, rather than at a manager’s discretion.
I consider that the above demonstrates that I have successfully used Peter Drucker’s ‘management by objectives’ given that I have set objectives for the Adjudicators, that is quality decision, together with setting out the actions required for achieving them, by way of the 12 factors. I communicated this by way of a team meeting, with follow up notes, to all those Adjudicators. Although the Quality Assurance will not be put into effect until 2018, I am confident that I have clearly set out the objectives and managed the introduction of the model in such a way that I have motivated the team and clarified to them how their performance will be assessed. From this. I conclude that I have developed a range of leadership styles that enable me to effectively manage a team who are striving to produce quality resolution decisions.
AC1:2 Use theories of emotional intelligence to review the effect of emotions on own and others’ performance
The theories of emotional intelligence that I will refer to are those of Mayer and Salovey and Goleman.
The concept of Emotional Intelligence is attributed to Professors Peter Salovey and John D. (Jack) Mayer. They defined Emotional Intelligence (EI) as the ability to engage in sophisticated information processing about one’s own and others’ emotions and the ability to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. That is, they explained. individuals high in emotional intelligence pay attention to, use, understand, and manage emotions, and these skills serve adaptive functions that potentially bene?t themselves and others.
Mayer and Salovey model of emotional intelligence comprises four branches:
1. The ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others accurately.
2. The ability to use emotions to facilitate thinking.
3. The ability to understand emotions, emotional language, and the signals conveyed by emotions.
4. The ability to manage emotions so as to attain specific goals.
EI is seen as increasingly relevant to understand how people, both managers and their reports, behave and hence is of significance to the development and working structure of organisations. Being able to understand our own emotions and those of others, and having an awareness as to how to utilise this information strategically, provides a way in which, in particular, to communicate more effectively, to reach organisational goals.
Mayor and Salovey, working with Caruso, developed the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). This ability based test is designed to measure the four branches of the Mayer Salovey EI model as set out above.
The MSCEIT measures how well people perform tasks and solve emotional problems, based on scenarios typical of everyday life, rather than having them provide their own subjective assessment of their emotional skills. Skills tested include the ability to identify emotions expressed in a face; to create feelings that can help solve problems, communicate a vision or lead people; to predict how someone will react emotionally; and to enhance decision making by integrating thought and emotion. Such skills play a vital role in just about every organisational function, from leadership and team-building to negotiation and planning.
However, care should be taken. In a paperwork entitled ‘What Is the Ability Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) Good for? An Evaluation Using Item Response Theory’ researchers tested whether those have the highest probability of choosing the most correct response on any item of the test were also those who have the strongest EI ability. Results showed that this was not the case for most items: The answer indicated by experts as the most correct in several cases was not associated with the highest ability; furthermore, items appeared too easy to challenge individuals high in EI. Overall results suggest that the MSCEIT is best suited to discriminate persons at the low end of the trait.
Furthermore, results from three papers question the validity of the scores from MSCEIT. 111 Norwegian business leaders were tested and the results compared with how employees described their leader; no correlation was found between the EI scores of the leaders and their stated ability to effectively lead. These findings are important, as the MSCEIT is frequently used to measure EI and is regarded as the test that provides the best available evidence for the four-branch theory of EI. The findings from this thesis thus question the validity of the most important source of evidence for the four-branch ability model of EI.
Goleman defined Emotional Quotient (EQ) as a person’s self-awareness, self-confidence, self-control, commitment and integrity and a person’s ability to communicate, influence and initiate change and accept change. He sought to establish two aspects of intelligence;
• Understanding self (that is, goals, intentions, responses and behaviours) and
• Understanding others, and their feelings.
Goleman identified five ‘domains’ of EQ, namely:
• Knowing your emotions
• Managing your own emotions
• Motivating yourself
• Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions
• Managing relationships, i.e. managing the emotions of others.
The theory is that by developing each of the five EQ ‘domains’, we increase EI and hence become better leader and managers. That is, EQ is seen as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. Goleman’s view is that the interest in emotional intelligence in the workplace stems from the widespread recognition that these abilities – self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social skill – separate the most successful workers and leaders from the average.
Effect of emotion on performance
I have recently had concerns with our team of Administrators. This team of six are responsible for all the early stage administration of the complaints. It became apparent to me that there was a significand amount of dissatisfaction amount the more junior members of this team, being expressed as contract complaining about the role. I spoke to the manager of this team and she expressed the same concerns, telling me that a few of them were refusing to accept the limitations of their role, but wanting to work to a more advanced stage; this meant that they did not complete the required tasks on all cases, as they were spending far too long on a portion of the cases, leading to a backlog of work. Although this had been explained to them, they refused to accept the situation. Two of the team members approached me directly, asking for my intervention.
I called a meeting of the team, ensuring that I had booked the board room so that there was plenty of space for all to be comfortable (rather than a small meeting room). I knew that all the individuals had worked in other department without any issues and all had impressed and been promoted to this department so I was keen to understand why the issues were occurring. I asked each to explain to me their understanding of the role, ensuring that I listened to their concerns. It became apparent that what had happened was that they understood the role to focus to a far greater extend on resolving cases than was stated within their job descriptions. The junior members of the team had spoken to an individual before applying for the role, and had been assured that the focus of the role was ‘resolution’ rather than administration and process. This information had then spread throughout the team. It was clear that a misunderstanding had occurred, and the team’s (understandable) misinterpretation of their role was creating significant anger and conflict within that team.
I listened to the concerns and frustrations and then sought to clarify the job role, carefully ensuring that I related each requirement back to the job description which I had ensured that I had to hand. All but one of the team members were prepared to listen; I realised that they were upset but, after discussion, all showed self-awareness to acknowledge the reality of their job role and the tasks that were required, rather than the ones that they wanted to do. One team member remained somewhat angry throughout so I decided to speak to her individually afterwards. After discussion, she remained unable to acknowledge that any point other than her own was correct, despite working through the job description together, and expressed both anger and upset, being unable to manage her own emotions. She advised that she was unhappy to carry out her job role as requested and would consider leaving. I acknowledged that she felt like that, but explained that she would be expected to work as instructed and if she felt this was not the role for her, she may wish to consider her options. To date she remains in the role but her anger about the situation means that she is not fully focused on the role. The Mayer and Salovey model has helped me to understand that this individual was unable to manage her emotions, and showed me the consequential negative impact on her performance.
I understand that my own performance can be affected by my emotional response to a situation. Two years ago, I had a new manager who, understandably, wanted to introduce change to the organisations. One of these changes was the requirement for Adjudicators to speak to consumers far more by telephone. The firm ethos of the previous manager had been that Adjudicators would not speak to considers in an attempt to ensure impartiality when making a decision. The change was not clearly explained and I understood that this was required once consumers had received the decisions, a stage in which we tend to receive some angry and difficult calls from people very unhappy with the outcome. In fact, the manager wanted Adjudicators to call to introduce themselves, and make sure that they understood the complaints, a stance with which I agree and would have been happy to implement. I expressed my concerns over my understood approach in a senior management meeting and felt that I was put down in front of the others. Due to the lack of communication, and talking at cross purposes, I became internally annoyed and, although I did not express this anger, became demotivated, no longer wishing to work for a boss who I felt did not understand the importance of case work.
Over time I carefully watched my manager and became aware of her considerable strengths. I also realised that I had the case work expertise and I was the best person to talk to her about changes required. That is, I realised that in this case, I needed to handle my emotions to create a successful working relationship. I broached the subject; I acknowledged the need for the organisation to change, thus showing empathy to her views, but expressing concern about Adjudicators answering difficult calls that would usually be time consuming. At this point she explained that had never been her intention. The misunderstanding was cleared up and this was the start of a far more positive working experience with the manager. I can see now that I put into place Goleman’s framework in this situation; I acknowledged my negative emotions, managed them in that I realised that I had to change, motivated myself to change, approached with matter with understanding as to the reason why my manager wanted to introduce change and managed my working relationship with her.
LO:2 Be able to evaluate own ability to lead others
AC 2.1: Review own ability to set direction and communicate this to others.
As a manager, I need to ensure that those for whom I am responsible are award of what is expected of them. I am aware, form both self-evaluation and reports form my team leaders that I manage, that my style tends towards negation, but in some circumstances a more directional style will be appropriate.
When setting direction, I will assess the scenario in order to understand the situation and clarify what is needed, ensure I have chosen the most appropriate method of communication, and thereafter monitor to ensure that the message had been understood. If it has not, I will need to improve my communication.
To give an example of this, my role includes ultimate responsibility for consistency and correctness of decision making for all the cases that we assess. As an organisation we review over 3,000 cases each year and I cannot look at every case. I need to ensure that I have et very clear guidelines on a specific issue. It is not unusual to suddenly get a number of cases on a theme and in 2016 that there was ‘holding deposits’. this is a sum of money pai8d by a tenant to reserve a property normally non-refundable if the tenant withdraws. However, our Code of Practice to letting agents (with which all member agents agree to comply) and the guidance issues by the Competition and Markets Authority both make clear that agents may only retain a reasonable sum to cover expenses incurred; the money cannot be retained as a penalty. This does not always happen in practice, for example we see cases where a prospective tenant will pay hundreds of pounds to reserve a property, withdraw the following day before any work has been done, and, on asking for their return of their money been told that it was all non-refundable.
I am dependent on staff raising the issues with me and I repeatedly emphasise that if they see a new issue or trend, then they should tell me. As far as I am aware, and from monitoring cases, this approach seems to work well. On releasing that we had reciov4ed a number of cases from prospective tenants about their holding deposit, I knew that I need to set guidance and direction as to how these cases were to be dealt with.
Having clarified the issue and what was required, I wrote a comprehensive guidance note to explain our organisational approach to this type of complaints. I realised that if I communicated only by email, there was a strong likelihood that not all complaint staff would read the email in its entirety (or at all) and hence would not be aware of the approach. I lead fortnightly briefing sessions, where we chose a topic to cover as a training issue. When I first started these sessions, I scheduled one a fortnight but soon learnt that we missed people due to staff absence. I now run the sessions on two occasions to ensure that we pick up as many staff as possible; a communication strategy that I realised was more effective.
On this occasion I used a ‘directing’ style with n the meeting. I am very knowledgeable about the technical aspect of complaints, due to my legal background and the length of time I have been in the organisation, having first started as an Adjudicator. I know that staff accept that I am extremely knowledgeable about cases. I presented the guidance paper to staff; I had prepared a power point presentation so I could ensure that we all went through the issues raised simultaneously; I was aware that If I gave out the Guidance paper, some Adjudicators would flick ahead and not concentrate on what I was saying. We discussed the matter in a fairly informal way, in that I encourage questions throughout to ensure that they were thinking about the issues.
At the end of the meeting I gave out the guidance note, following up with an email attaching an electronic copy as I know that most people prefer to store something of this nature in a documents folder to easily have to hand when needed.
I then followed up by pulling a selection of cases decisions concerning holding deposits as I needed to know if the guidance was being properly allied. I was pleased, and relived, to see that it was; the decisions written by the Adjudicators were showing the correct reasoning, by highlighting those matters discussed within my Guidance note, and were corr3etc in outcome. I was delighted that the cases that I checked were all correct.
By using a directing style, rather than my preferred negotiating style, I underlined that in this case, the outcome of these cases was non-negotiable. By setting direction, all staff realised that they did not have to ‘guess’ at the outcome of a case decision that they were writing; they could be following my clear guidelines and hence they were quickly ‘on board’, appreciating that the guidance provided would simplify the task for them.
In this scenario I applied a directing style as set out by Tannenbaum and Schmidt model which shows the relationship between the level of freedom that a manager chooses to give to a team, and the level of authority used by the manager. . Here, I utilised an autocratic approach which worked very well. I am aware that such an approach would need to be modified in other scenarios. One scenario where it would not be appropriate would be in the grading of cases.
The case work is divided into two teams, each headed by a line manager who both report to me. All cases need to be graded into a ‘complexity level’, in order to ensure that the cases are dealt with by an appropriate Adjudicator, as discussed above. When I introduced this banding, I called a meeting and presented the problem to team leaders and senior Adjudicators and asked them what factors would be taken into account, that is, how would we assess the complexity of a case. Between them, they came up with a list of about a dozen factors, all of which would contribute towards determining a case’s complexity. I allowed them to make the decisions, whilst knowing I agreed with their outcome, as I knew that they would need to grade the cases themselves, and hence it was vital that they were fully supportive of this policy in practice. For this, I was applying a far more democratic approach, again on the Tannenbaum and Schmidt model. Here the decision making was delegated in order to allow the team leaders the ability to develop their own thinking, and then apply that to the grading of cases. I was aware that all those being consulted had a clear idea about case complexity, having a minimum of five years’ experience each of dealing with cases and I wanted them to be involved and influence the decision making. This approach was relevant as I trusted them to make the right decision.
Of course, I am aware that if they get this wrong, I am ultimately responsible as it is, in the end, my direction that informs their case grading. However, this flexible approach has worked well and demonstrates that I have the ability to set direction and communicate this to others.
AC 2.2 Review own ability to motivate, delegate and empower others
To be able to lead effectively, it is imperative that the leader can delegate, motivate and empower others in order to manage in the most effective way. I realised the importance of this when the previous boss of the organisation retired and it transpired that he had delegated so little that few of us were aware of the needs of the organisation. I now work in an organisation where the new boss has made succession planning a priority, which has had the added effect of ensuring that I see the need for this in those that I lead.
In order to motivate staff, I need to find out what is important to them in work, what it is that will make them ‘tick’. A couple of years ago, I became concerned about staff retention. From analysing feedback from interviews and exit interviews, I noticed that a comment that was often repeated was the lack of promotion opportunities. I used to interview for Adjudicators with my previous boss and he always explained that our organisation has a fairly flat structure, and there would be little opportunity for advancement. This was often cited when good candidates rejected the job offer made. Again, staff would often comment during exit interviews that they enjoyed the work and would have stayed longer if promotion opportunities were available, but had sought alternative employments as there was no opportunity to progress.
This was one of the factor when introducing Adjudicator banding, as discussed above. I realised that it was more motivating for Adjudicators to understand that they could progress through several levels, working towards the next level, than the present system.
This feeds into Herzberg’s motivation theory. Herzberg established that people will strive to achieve ‘hygiene’ needs, such a pay and benefits, working conditions and job security, because they are unhappy without them, but once satisfied the effect soon wears off – satisfaction is temporary. People are not ‘motivated’ by addressing ‘hygiene’ needs. Herzberg’s research proved that people are only truly motivated by enabling them to reach for and satisfy the factors that Herzberg identified as real motivators, such as achievement, advancement, development, etc., which represent a far deeper level of meaning and fulfilment.
Recognising that staff needed job enrichment by way of the possibility of clear achievement goals, and advancement through those goals was paramount. Together with their line manager, I now grade the Adjudicators, often using their annual appraisals as the opportunity to do so and, as they advance to a higher level, they taken on more difficult cases, often specialising in a particular area of work and may have increased responsibility by way of mentoring more junior staff.
Furthermore more, while I will ultimately decide at which level they will work, they have the option of working at the ‘a’ or ‘b’ band at each level. If they chose to work at the ‘b’ level, they have a higher target of cases per month, for higher pay. The work itself will be the same, but more is expected of them. I leave it up to each Adjudicator to decide, although may try to guide then if I feel that either they are unlikely to achieve the greater number of required cases, or know that they are under-selling themselves, and they do not have the confidence in their own ability. Ultimately however I delegate this decision to the individual concerned and this degree of control and responsibility over their work has proved to be a huge motivator and source of empowerment. The success of this approach has been seen both in recruitment, as we can now explain a well-defined promotion structure, and in staff retention, with a number of Adjudicators working hard to prove that they should be promoted to a higher level from January 2108. I was pleased to be able to do so in a number of cases.
Finally, I have been working hard on delegating and empowering over the last year. During a re-structure of the organsion, it become necessary to recruit of and Adjudicator Manager. This role leads one to the two adjudication teams and will manage all individuals in that team, and manage to progress of cases throughout the office. Th external applicant, although highly skilled in a number of areas, has no previous case experience. It has therefore been necessary for me to devise a strategy, which has been ongoing since his appointment at the beginning of 2017, to empower him with case knowledge and thus slowly delegating case work to him. The individual is a key stakeholder with in our organisation and we needed to ensure that he quickly became proficient in the practical application of our approach to case resolution. This has been challenging.
For this task I identified that the individual needed a very clear goal. Locke put forward the Goal-setting theory of motivation. This theory states that goal setting is essentially linked to task performance. It states that specific and challenging goals along with appropriate feedback contribute to higher and better task performance. That is, goals indicate and give direction to an employee about what needs to be done and how much efforts are required to be put in. I set a specific task for the first three months; that he would attend training sessions that I set up and held weekly with his team that were designed to only address compliant queries, that is, I would make sure that his team would have the necessary answer when querying how to deal with a complaint. To ensure that he was comfortable with this, I asked him no case questions in his team’s presence, to allow him to learn in a safe environment. As his knowledge increased, I continued to hold the sessions, but afforded him the opportunity to answer the queries himself. I also asked him to sign off his team’s cases in a structured way; I started him on the level 1 cases, being aware that these were straightforward and generally required a common-sense approach rather than technical knowledge. As he became confident with this, I set him the task of signing off level 2 cases, and built up with specific goals in this way. I met with him on a regular basis and asked him for feedback, being aware that I needed to know the competency development form his point of view as well as that gained from a spot check of those cases that he had signed off.
By utilising this approach, that is of specific goal setting, I believe that I have demonstrated how I have delegated more authority to this individual over the year, seeking to empower him by the acquisition of knowledge and the realisation that he has progressed well, albeit slowly, toward the goal of comprehensive case knowledge. I believe that this demonstrates that I have a developed an ability to delegate and empower others within the organisation.
AC 2.3 Produce a personal development plan to improve own ability to lead.
Personal analysis of requirements for my role:
Ensuring correct ; consistent decisions are made reflecting quality and quantity (volume dependant) to meet SLA requirements.
If issues arise, identify any training needs and ensure sufficient support, knowledge and skills.
• To achieve required SLA deadlines
• To ensure complex cases are resolved within current 90 days standards
BEST PRACTICE OUTREACH CONFERENCES
Working with the industry to highlight the work of TPO, being a Brand Ambassador, building reputation and links and showcasing the expertise of TPO.
Answering any queries with regards to Code from Agents.
• To speak at 6 Regional Conferences
• To present at 8 master classes – covering sales and lettings per annum
INDUSTRY LIAISON / MARKET
Representing TPO and being seen at the table, raising awareness.
Writing articles for trade press and working closely with media partners.
• Writing articles for trade press – 1 per month
• Creating articles from the Deputy Ombudsman perspective 1 per quarter
Resolution of cases and ensuring TPO has sufficient people, skills, knowledge and capacity to fulfil and deliver the SLA.
• Managing budget versus SLA expectations
• Monitoring additional capacity requirements as required to support SLA delivery standards
MANAGEMENT OF TEAMS
To support the team to do their jobs effectively, efficiently to a very high standard in line with Vision and Values.
To ensure they follow set processes to ensure consistency.
To maintain an engaged and motivated team.
• To ensure team approaches to work reflect the high standards of TPO’s Visions and Values
• To ensure SLA is delivered across whole organisation STAKEHOLDERS
Communicating and liaising with all the various professional groups, Government departments, Council, Board, trade bodies, staff, colleagues and Regulatory Bodies
To share information, best practice, identify changes to legislation and to maintain good working relationships.
• To maintain excellent working relationships & communication channels with all stakeholders
• To attend meetings regularly – weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually
Objective: ongoing personal development as Deputy to Ombudsman
• self-development, learning and continual improvement
Setting out the above has helped me focus on the multi-faceted nature of my role. Having reviewed the above, I have become more aware of the need to constantly review, and aim to improve upon, my leadership skills. The better I am as a leader and manager, the more will be achieved through empowered, motivated staff. Bearing the above in mind, I have set out three areas for personal development, as below.
Communication Skills – Best Practice Outreach
– One part of my role, which I have not commented on to date, is external communication; communicating with our member agents to explain our approach to dispute resolution. It is compulsory for agents in England to be a member of a redress scheme and there are three schemes operating; we are by far the largest and our income is derived from each member paying a fee. It is therefore imperative that we retain member agents to guarantee income. We charge no case fee for resolving a complain and hence it is preferable for us to receive as few complaints as possible. To this end, I communicate with members to explain our approach to specific issues. We consider that training in this way and highlighting our approach, can only help by equipping agents with knowledge of best practice.
We have been approached by Rightmove, the property portal website, to deliver training via webinars. I have been tasked with this. My technical knowledge is excellent but this is a new way of communication and I need to prepare.
Activity and Timescales: I held the first webinar in October 2017 and have now been asked to make this a bi-monthly series. This first webinar was a very useful learning experience and has highlighted various matters that I need to take into account. The first webinar of the series is scheduled for mid-February 2018. I have chosen a topic; this needed to be agreed with Rightmove, in order that they could publicise the event to all agents. I have set aside a day in the second week of January to prepare the power point presentation. From experience of preparing workshops for conferences, I am aware that finding the material and putting it together in an accessible and easily understood format is time-consuming. I realise that the slides will need to be brief; I want the audience to listen to me rather than read too much information. Once I have prepared the slides, I will contact Rightmove and ask for a run through in order to ensure that I am prepared. This will take approximately 30 minutes and I will schedule for two weeks before the webinar date in order that I have time to carry out any required changes. The day before I will read up on the topic in order to ensure that I have all information to hand.
Resources required: We hold the webinar in our offices, connecting via a link. I have booked a quiet meeting room for the session and, as I know that my IT skills are poor, have ensured that a colleague is available on the day to help. I found the quality of our microphone that I used last time was inadequate. I have therefore asked Rightmove for a better microphone and a very high quality professional one has been sent to us in readiness. On the day of the webinar we will set this up some hours before hand to ensure all is in order and working.
Support: I have asked a colleague to sign in and listen to the webinar during both the run through and the broadcast edition. In this way, I can utilise his support/comments at the run through stage, in order to improve the material. This was invaluable in October when he was able to both provide useful comments and suggestions and help to reassure me as I was very nervous about this new project.
Cost: No direct cost, the cost involved is my time. I envisage that in total two days will be set aside for each webinar we hold. However, the net gain is hard for us to quantify; certainly, I hope that the publicity that we receive and the equipping of agents will help in two ways. We will be seen as the expert in the sector, and we will promote best practice, in the hope that this will reduce complaints. If this is achieved, and by itself that is difficult to measure (causation of complaints being a very complex area, affected by many factors), then the benefit could far outweigh two days of my time.
The above will improve my ability to lead in best practice outreach, an important part of my role.
Ability to set direction – Management of Teams
Activity: keep abreast of all sector developments in order to ensure that I impart the required knowledge to our complaint handling team. They need to know what is relevant and applicable to them and their role, but not be overwhelmed by too much information. I will do this by ensuring that I read all relevant consultation papers and implemented legislation/regulations, for example new changes to letting agents in Scotland. I need to ensure that my technical knowledge is up to date and accurate. I will then determine what information needs to be promulgated, and do so in the most effective way, which I have found to be by way of a meeting where I explain the position, following up with handouts in order that staff have something to refer to later.
Timescales: ongoing, throughout 2018
Resources: I will liaise with our policy manager who will support me in this, highlighting relevant policy changes I need to be aware of.
Cost: No direct cost, my time, to both research matters and prepare and deliver training. From experience, half a day per fortnight will be required.
Support: I require the support of all staff to realise that the information being given to them is relevant and needs to by applied to case decisions. I will measure the success of my communication by way of quality checking decisions to ensure that the approach is correct and in line with given advice.
The above will improve my ability to lead the teams in ensuring team approaches to work reflect the high standards of TPO’s Visions and Values.
Communicating, Motivating and Empowering with Emotional Intelligence – Casework
Activity and Timescale – Implement Quality Assurance. As advised I have set this up in principle but not yet put this into practice. I will hold the first session in March 2018, thereafter quarterly. I will check 20 complete cases in the first phase and two weeks prior to our agreed start date will ask our Admin assistant to prepare those files for me by way of finding them (it may be that they have been to our off-site storage facility and will need to be ordered back). QA will continue quarterly throughout the year and I will schedule in day to carry this out in June, September and December 2018. FROM QA. I will identify key training issues.
Resources and Support: I will select a senior Adjudicator to work with me doing the quality assurance. This post will be held on a rotational basis and I will ascertain, in the first instance, who is interested in assisting with this. I realise that it is likely that this will be seen as an added responsibility and will appeal to those wanting to prove that they can work at a higher level, so will need to be emotionally aware when selecting a helper. I will need to communicate
Cost: No direct cost. Time, approximately two days per quarter to assess files and provide feedback. Following this training needs will have, in all likelihood, been identified and I will need to ascertain if this had resulted from my inadequate of communication, correcting any misunderstanding by way of training sessions. The time involved for this cannot be quantified until the QA has been completed.
This will be a project which will need to be handled in an emotionally intelligent way; I cannot have demotivated staff feeling that they have been critiqued in an unconstructive way. If errors are found in cases, I need to establish if the knowledge should have been known; if not, I need to take responsibility. If it was clearly covered in a training session, then II will pass on any comments through the line manager concerned, aware that it will be less daunting of the individual to received feedback in this way.
Reviewing the above, my action point for personal development, when carrying out QA, will be aware of emotional intelligence, and theories learnt. This will improve my ability to lead the delivery of high quality decision making and associated required training.