Delegating & sharing HR tasks

There are quite a lot of people who would love to get rid of the HR function – HR is perceived is being rather useless except maybe for payroll, but there are different opinions on whether payroll is part of HR at all. Most HR people I know love to see payroll as part of accounting, whereas my accounting colleagues tell me it should be part of HR. But that’s another topic.

What I want to talk about today is if and how we could delegate and share some of our HR tasks to others. I’m not an advocate for „zero HR“ because I think HR tasks and role remain, whether you have someone with „HR“ in their job title or not. And I strongly believe that we should open our doors and stop being protective of our tasks and expertise. If we want HR to be more than the internal payroll provider or compliance watchdog or even nanny department, we need to be transparent about what we do and why and how we do it.

It’s perfectly possible to involve team managers and leaders in recruiting, performance management, development and training. Bringing different viewpoints together can be very enlightening, and what good would a training concept do that has been written in the HR department without talking to people what they need? You might think it’s standard and good practice to talk to people before developing trainings and workshops, but that’s not the case everywhere.

So, make sure that you communicate with your internal customers and that you know what their challenges are. Ask them if and how they would like you to get involved. But don’t let them delegate things they don’t want to do upon you! Some leaders are eager to drop the ball and let HR pick it up when they don’t want to conduct difficult conversations with team members.

On the other hand, when it comes to delegation of HR tasks, only give away what you feel comfortable with. However, if you think you can’t delegate anything, leave your comfort zone for a while. It is worth it. Most of our colleagues trust us, so we can trust them to handle the tasks in a good way. And when I talk about delegating, I don’t mean to just give a task to someone without preparing them to deal with the task. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that „everyone“ can do recruiting. Help leaders and team members to develop the necessary skills and to use the relevant tools. Come together and talk about and try out ways of moderating meetings, leading discussions, preparing a talk or a learning session. Help your colleagues bring in personal experiences and let them share their knowledge.

Think about what you could delegate, and then find a way to do this without putting too much additional work on someone’s desk. It doesn’t help to force a person to do overtime to work on an HR topic.

Maybe you can try and swap desks with someone for a few hours per week. While your colleague from the sales team uses 2 hours to conduct a workshop or train new team members, you could help them out by talking to clients or whatever it is that needs doing. This approach might not work everywhere and not immediately, but it’s worth giving it a try.

And who knows, you might have someone in the company who would be a great addition to the HR team and you just didn’t know about it. Or you might discover a new passion in technical support or marketing. Some people never try something new because they fear they might like it. I would like to encourage you to be open and to explore the possibilities. In my experience, you can’t lose.

Whatever the outcome, you will be richer.

Oh, and by the way, other colleagues might appreciate your work a lot more once they’ve experienced parts of it themselves. Good HR is not as simple as it seems, and by involving others and by being transparent, we can show what we’re actually doing each day and why our work is relevant. And even if the experiment results in your HR team being dissolved and the work being distributed in the company, there will still be a role for you. Don’t be afraid of this change.

Be active and curious and open those office doors.

If you like, drop me a line and tell me about your experiences. Or contact me if you would like to know more or need some nudging to start delegating.

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