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How Situational Leadership Can Help Title Businesses Delegate Tasks
Business Strategy For Title Agents

How Situational Leadership Can Help Title Businesses Delegate Tasks

Mariah McQueen

As the real estate market continues to shift and people are moving around, companies are changing the way they circulate responsibilities throughout their organizations to be well equipped for the rest of 2022. Today’s market conditions haven’t been easy, and businesses and employees find themselves having to do more with less. Whether it’s layoffs or management of underperformers that are impacting your business, today’s economic reality calls for change and reorganization so your business may prevail.

A market slowdown is a perfect moment to step back, be critical of your current practices, and fine-tune where tasks can be improved or shifted. Teams that can pick up the pieces in the worst of times are better prepared for the inevitable next cycle in the real estate industry. We sat down with Chief Marketing Officer, Becky Tassell, to discuss how the Situational Leadership model can help leaders delegate tasks to the right employees and determine which ‘management hat’ to wear to support their workload.

 

What Is Situational Leadership?

The term “situational leadership” is most commonly connected to Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory. Situational Leadership matches the appropriate leadership style to the individual’s development level for a task, so the right tasks are assigned to the right people. It’s important to note that this type of leadership is task-based, not people based.

Title companies can see advantages in using the situational leadership approach because teams frequently change, yielding different groups of employees with different core competencies. Great leaders use situational leadership to their advantage, quickly pivoting to new leadership approaches that better develop competence and commitment.

Situational Leadership helps set your title company apart from others by having more collaborative and confident employees who feel purpose and ownership of their roles. Other benefits include:

  • Retaining talent – people are more confident and motivated by their roles 
  • Stronger alignment – matching the right tasks to the right people
  • Stronger communication by identifying who can “own” the responsibility
  • Stronger professional development by nuturing employee growth
  • More autonomy through teaching employees how to provide their own direction and support

 

“Taking the time to invest in your people will pay dividends because you’ll have a cross-trained and cross-functional team.” - Becky Tassell

Diagnosing Development Level

Development level is tied to two factors; commitment and competence in relation to the goal or task. Understanding the development levels and how each is meant to be handled sets employees up for success. 

Ask yourself:

  • What is the specific goal or task?
  • How strong or good are the individual’s demonstrated task knowledge and skills on the goal or task?
  • How motivated, interested, or enthusiastic is the individual?
  • How confident or self-assured is the individual?

There are four different development levels:

Development Level 1 (D1)

⬇️ Low competence + ⬆️ High Commitment

Commonly knowns as the “enthusiastic beginner,” someone in Stage 1 may be enthusiastic but not entirely sure what their next steps are. They may be cautious and often ask first before taking action.

Development Level 2 (D2):

⬇️ Low to some competence + ⬆️ high commitment. A.k.a the “Disillusioned Learner.” This person has some knowledge and skills but is not fully competent yet. They may feel discouraged and overwhelmed and need extra reassurance from their manager.

Development Level 3 (D3)

Followers have ⬆️ high competence but ⬇️ low to varied commitment, and confidence. A.k.a the “Capable but Cautious” performer. Many people may sit in the D3 category and call themselves a novice but generally are self-directed and productive. It’s important that they are put in a situation where they can ask questions and test ideas.

Development Level 4 (D4)

Followers have ⬆️ high competence and ⬇️ low commitment, and confidence. A.k.a the “Self Reliant Achiever”. Often recognized as an expert and trusts themselves to work independently.

Reminder: Development level is goal or task-specific.

Someone highly competent and committed in Refinance orders may fall in the D4 category for Refinance related tasks but may fall into the D1 category for Traditional Purchase transactions because they are new to that task.

It’s normal for the development level for each task to change over time as employees get their feet wet, so it’s important to go back and make the necessary changes to your leadership approach over time. For example, someone in D1 may progress to D2 within 6 months. 

 

Aligning Leadership Style to Development Level

Now that you’ve identified where in the development process your employee is at, it’s time to adjust your leadership approach to best support their development. Your leadership style is identified by the pattern of your behaviors and how these behaviors are perceived by others. There are four types of leadership styles that influence how an employee will perform with tasks:

Style 1 (S1): Directing

⬆️ Directive Behavior + ⬇️  Supportive Behavior

This type of leader is teaching/showing, checks in and monitors frequently, and closely tracks performance for feedback.

Style 2 (S2): Coaching

⬆️ Directive Behavior + ⬆️  Supportive Behavior

This type of leader explains why, encourages,  solicits suggestions, and continues to direct goal or task accomplishment.

Style 3 (S3): Supporting

⬇️ Directive Behavior + ⬆️ Supportive Behavior

This type of leader will make decisions with the employee and facilitates self-reliant problem solving.

Style 4 (S4): Delegating

⬇️ Directive Behavior + ⬇️  Supportive Behavior

This type of leader encourages employees to act independently with appropriate resources to get the job done.

The Perfect Match

Enthusiastic Beginner (D1) 🤝 Directing Leader (S1)

Disillusioned Learner (D2) 🤝 Coaching Leader (S2)

Capable but Cautious (D3) 🤝 Supporting Leader (S3)

Self-Reliant Achiever (D4) 🤝 Delegating Leader (S4)

 

 

When Delegating Goes Wrong

Let’s say you have an employee that is new to your team. You have a closing in a few hours, so you ask her to prepare all the necessary documents within two hours’ time. You ask if she can do this task, and she confirms that she can. You return at the end of the two-hour deadline to find she is not finished and has missed several important documents. Who is at fault here?

There’s a lesson to learn from both parties. But as the leader, you are held accountable for what gets done or not done. Being aware of blind spots can prevent scenarios like this example from happening to you.

Blindspots to Avoid

❌Neglecting your Star Performers

Most managers spend 80% of their time with those who only do 20% of the work while the top talent quietly does 80% of the workload with minimal trouble. But sometimes when so much faith is put into our star performers, the wrong tasks are assigned out of assumption they will be just as great at them than they’ve been at other tasks in the past.

“Some employees could use hand holding that you weren’t used to giving them because it is new” - Becky Tassell

❌ Not Painting a Clear Picture for the Desired Outcome

It’s easy to be hard on people who are not meeting expectations when you haven’t properly set them up for success. Establishing clear expectations allows employees to be held accountable and leverages motivation. Goals help guide focus and sustain momentum. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and you can’t improve if you don’t properly manage. Setting goals can help you do all of that and more. Consider creating goals that align with the SMART Goal Criteria. 

Ask yourself:

  • Are the goals Specific?
  • Are the goals Measurable?
  • Are the goals Attainable?
  • Are the goals Relevant?
  • Are the goals Timely?

 

And most importantly, have you agreed on the outcome? This will help determine what the individual needs from you, build commitment, and establish how often you will stay in touch.

 

❌Not following up

Increasing the frequency of conversations about performance or check-ins opens the door for better communication between managers and their employees. This also allows them to show off their new skills. According to Becky Tassell, the best way to follow up with employees is to have them train somebody else and for you to sit in on the training. 

 

❌Providing an answer rather than a lesson

You have probably heard the phrase by now, “Give a person a fish, feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, feed them for a lifetime.” It’s easy as a leader to give quick answers to your employees or even do the task yourself, especially in a production-based industry. But in reality, you are doing a disservice to that employee and your entire team. It’s important to get people up to speed to be self-reliant, even if that means investing the time to get them there. You will find it more beneficial in the long run than filling a temporary need.

 

There’s a lot to consider as companies are looking for ways to reorganize their people, but leading employees should be first in mind. Utilizing Situational Leadership helps us respond to inevitable workforce changes by looking at each task separately and assigning them to the right people. 

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Mariah McQueen Marketing Generalist

Mariah McQueen is a Marketing Generalist at PropLogix who enjoys using creative outlets to break down intricate concepts to easier to understand the material. She currently lives in Orlando and enjoys rollerblading, documenting her travels across the US, and playing the piano.