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All That HR Stuff

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

I was talking recently to a client about delegation and helping staff take more responsibility. Like many owners, she has become something of a bottleneck in her business, with most decisions and some critical activities reliant upon her.

I explained how implementing things like organisation charts, job descriptions, processes and objectives helps to empower employees, by making their responsibilities and authority clear. Her immediate reaction was “I can get our HR consultant to do that.”

I commended this piece of delegation but had to point out that, while an HR consultant was exactly the right person to create the templates, advise on best practice and record and publish the results, the actual discussions with employees were far too important to be left to a third party and should be the responsibility of the manager of each employee (my client in this case).

As I anticipated, her immediate response was “I haven’t got time to do all that HR stuff!” I asked her to expand on this and, of course, the perfectly rational answer was that she wants to spend as much time as possible on selling and delivering service in order to grow her business. Discussing someone’s job description was not, in her view, as important as winning more business or raising more invoices.

Of course, on one level (or perhaps, on one timescale) she is right. The business will not survive for long without sales and cash. However, looking longer-term, failing to also invest time in developing employees and delegating responsibility to them means that the business will run out of steam. It will reach a revenue ceiling when the owner is working as many hours as they can and is simply unable to sell or control any more.

I explained that the job descriptions, orgchart and other HR artefacts were simply records of the underlying process, which was one of two-way communication about the organisation’s purpose and the employee’s part in achieving it. Only in this way will employees become accountable for their results, and only then will she have a scalable business.

I left her with a challenge. There are two types of business owner: One type focuses on doing and deciding things day by day. The other focuses on developing their employees and systems. Only one of these types build scalable businesses and every business owner has a choice about which type they want to be.

If you’d like to find out more about leadership and scalable business then these events may be of interest.

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