Many of us live and work by mantras such as “if you want it done right, do it yourself”. There’s a lot to be said for stepping up, and taking responsibility for your success. But in actual fact, there are times when delegating responsibility is not just helpful, but crucial.
Today’s article will look at HR’s relationship with delegation, to help you understand why delegation is important, and how to manage it more effectively.
Why people are so reluctant to delegate
There are lots of reasons why people tend to take care of tasks themselves, instead of delegating responsibility to other people. According to The People Development Network, there are three main reasons:
- Some tasks take longer to explain to another person, than they would take to just get on with them. However, for repetitive tasks that are going to keep on cropping up, there is a long-term time-saving benefit if you can swallow the initial time investment in teaching another person how to do it.
- If the success or failure of a certain task is going to reflect directly on your reputation, it’s understandable that you might be afraid of entrusting it to somebody else. But this fear could end up holding you back from progressing – if you remain bogged down with too many ‘same old’ jobs, you’ll never be able to move forward with new ones.
- When you’re really good at something, you might feel reluctant to hand over responsibility to somebody else. But in actual fact, if you teach somebody to do something just as well as you can do it, this still reflects on your own abilities – not only have you shown yourself to be capable in this area, but you’ve shown that you can transfer and teach this skill to another person.
Empowering employees through delegation helps deliver results
Delegating responsibility to other employees, if done right, can become a real boost for motivation – and a real driver of big results.
“In a nutshell, delegation is a great motivator for employees” explains Michael Foote, founder of comparison website Quote Goat. “It demonstrates that you trust their abilities enough to hand over responsibility.”
Michael told me of the time he was tasked with looking after a new starter in a previous role.
“I was confident in their ability, and so I handed over a piece of work that had always been my own direct responsibility” he recalls. “The work involved supplying information to a wider team, and it was very important to ensure this information was accurate. But while I was a little nervous about handing over such a big responsibility, the employee was delighted at being given such an important responsibility – and he handled it really well, in addition to his other workloads.”
Teach managers to delegate responsibly
Of course, while you want your management team to be empowering their employees, and driving great results, delegation isn’t something you should approach carelessly. In fact, according to Forbes, only 1 in 10 managers actually manages to delegate effectively.
Delegating carelessly has a lot of negative consequences, including:
- Managers appearing lazy, and wanting to ‘pass the buck’
- Employees carrying out tasks they do not have the skills for
- Workloads being forgotten and deadlines missed
In order to encourage managers to delegate properly, you should remind them to take the time to properly train people in the tasks they are handing over. But just as important as delegating the responsibility itself, is delegating the credit. If you give somebody a task to do, then remember to give them the full package – the task, the authority, and the credit.
Delegate to avoid bottlenecks and support growth
As well as saving time and boosting motivation, delegation can support business growth on a wider scale, by removing bottlenecks. Bottlenecks happen when too many responsibilities are being funnelled through a single person, and can stall growth and prevent success.
A great example of this in relation to HR, is the story of how BAFTA and EMMY award-winning VFX and animation company Jellyfish Pictures identified a bottleneck in their holiday booking process, and took steps to address it.
You can read the story by following the hyperlink above, but in a nutshell, holiday requests were going through one catch-all email address, and it was slowing the entire business down. By implementing People HR as a way of directly delegating holiday approvals to the people responsible, Jellyfish Pictures were able to concentrate on what they do best – making awesome animations for the big screen.
Don’t bottleneck your international HR
Some companies, when expanding internationally, still bottleneck their HR processes through their head office. This is a big problem for international HR, and we recently built a way to address this into our software, which lets customers assign regional administrators to take care of their own locations or regions.
There are so many benefits of decentralising some of your HR processes for greater international efficiency. For example:
- Performance reviews can be taken care of locally, instead of being forced through an overseas head office
- Public holidays can be set as country-specific, by a local HR admin who understands their location’s cultures and customs
- Local languages can be applied to all employees in one location, to avoid the hassle of manually changing the language of their system individually
If you don’t use a centralised HR system for your HR admin, then it’s something you might wish to consider. It helps you to keep things together in one place, while still allowing responsibility to be delegated to the right people within the right teams. Why not take a free trial
Delegate smartly, and in moderation
Overall, delegating responsibility can support your business in many ways. It makes employees feel valued and motivated, it helps overworked individuals to focus their time more effectively, and it helps you avoid bottlenecks. But remember:
- Provide training – don’t delegate blindly, without passing on the skills
- Delegate every element – the task, the authority, and the rewards
- Don’t delegate because you’re simply feeling lazy!
If you have a story to share about how you have delegated responsibility, let me know in the comments below.