Question 82. Recall an occasion when you got bogged down in a task's details instead of giving the job to someone else.
situation: I was the director of special projects for an entrepreneur who was involved in a lot of community projects. One of those projects was running a breakfast event that was attended by the presidents of local chambers of commerce and elected officials. Obviously there was a great deal of protocol and exacting procedures to be followed.
action: After getting bogged down in the minutia of who had to sit where and what order people were to be introduced, I decided to focus instead on my boss's role at the breakfast meeting and let my assistant do all the seat placement and agenda coordination.
result: I was able to focus on the big picture and not worry about the details. In the end, the breakfast went off without a hitch.
Question 83. Give an example of a time when you delegated a task and, in the middle of the project, the employee asked you to take it over.
situation: Because there was a lien on a client's mortgage, she was unable to sell her home. Two things complicated the matter. First, the client indicated she had paid the debt but did not have a copy of the satisfaction letter. Second, the creditor closed its doors several years ago. Since it would take a lot of research to track down the file, I assigned the task to a legal assistant. Several times the assistant expressed concern about the difficulties she was encountering. Though she did not come right out and ask me, all indications pointed to her wanting me to intervene.
action: Though I didn't offer to take over the work, I did offer advice on the steps to take. It was important that she learn to manage difficult situations such as these on her own.
result: It took her two weeks longer than I expected to complete the task, but she did locate the necessary letter.
Question 84. Describe a time when you assigned a project to an employee and dealt with the reactions of those who were passed over.
situation: As the vice president of communications for the Medium Collective, I assigned a lucrative project to Yvette, an employee who had joined the team only a month earlier. My decision ruffled a few feathers among the high producers, as they felt the decision should have been based on seniority. I understood their point, and there were times when I took seniority into consideration. This time, however, I felt that Yvette's accomplishments with previous companies outshone the best employees on Medium's payroll. Since she was the most qualified, she received the opportunity.
action: When approached by staff members about my decision, I provided an honest assessment of the situation. Given that I have solid working relationships with the team members and have earned their respect, there was no fallout—only genuine curiosity.
result: Yvette delivered exceptional results. The next lucrative project that came our way, I assigned to another team member—as it is my philosophy that all members share in the opportunities to tackle challenging assignments.
Question 85. Tell me about a time when you provided instructions for doing a task and an employee offered a smarter alternative.
situation: Many employees had questions regarding their health-care and life insurance benefits. Given that, I suggested to the benefits coordinator that he hold a meeting to answer questions. Since he has more employee interactions than I do, he informed me that the overwhelmingly majority of male employees mentioned that their wives made the benefits decisions. He proposed holding the gathering on a weekend to allow spouses to attend.
action: As he suggested, the meeting was held to a packed audience on a Saturday afternoon.
result: During the presentation, he answered questions and calls to the office regarding company benefits dramatically decreased as a consequence.
Question 86. Give an example of a time when you delegated a task because you did not want to do it yourself.
situation: Regardless of the task involved, each project for which I am accountable requires the same focus and dedication.
action: With that in mind, I never pawn off my responsibilities to employees. I have too much respect for their time. Instead, when there is a task that I can't get excited about, I work on it right away.
result: Doing so allows me to complete the task quickly, check it off my list, and concentrate on activities that I find more gratifying.
Question 87. Recall a time when you asked for employee feedback before delegating tasks.
situation: To determine a clerical employee's interests, I asked about her immediate and long-term career goals. She indicated that her passion was for employee development and training.
action: Based on this information, I gave her the go-ahead to provide the training that was a small section of the new employee orientation program.
result: She soon advanced to creating training catalogs and then to developing tutorials and manuals on how to use computer applications.
Question 88. Describe an occasion when you divided the functions of a team among its members.
situation: At Uniform Exchange, the online sales cycle was longer than management was comfortable with.
action: In an effort to close sales at a faster pace, I sourced and implemented online chat software that allowed agents to invite visitors to communicate in real time. I split the agents into two categories: one group dealt with phone inquiries and the other was trained in chat communications.
result: The solution shortened the sales cycle. An added benefit was that the software tracked the Web pages visitors read and how long they spent on each page. I used the new intelligence to revamp the content of our pages to include an assertive sales pitch that went for the close.