When Is It a Bad Idea for CEOs to Delegate?

When Is It a Bad Idea for CEOs to Delegate?

CEOs have a full plate of responsibilities.  They are tasked not only with the logistic responsibilities of leading an organization, but also with the strategic responsibilities of creating and communicating a vision and direction that inspires successful execution by all employees.  In most organizations, the CEO has a leadership team that aids with critical decision-making.  Then, tasks are delegated to their managers who are trusted to make the right decisions for execution.  We know that a CEO’s day is always full, and we have been told time and time again that great leaders trust and empower their managers to make decisions.  However, delegation is not always the best strategy.  In small to mid-sized organizations, sometimes “letting the team decide” is a bad idea.

One of the biggest frustrations for these small to mid-sized organizations, especially non-profits, is access to the right information at the right time.  Information is often siloed and does not flow, as it should.  By the time management assembles information it is stale and outdated.  Therefore, information reported is historical not forward-thinking.  This type of information leaves organizations driving down the highway at 60 mph without being able to see out the front windshield.  Their direction is determined only by what they can see in the rear-view mirror.  Not a good driving strategy, and not a good strategy for leading an organization.

So how do we see into the future?  First we need transparency throughout the organization. All too often managers and leaders are unable to answer basic questions about their workforce like: how many employees do I have today, at this moment?  How many positions are open right now?  What programs are in need of resources?  How much is my daily lost revenue?  How are we performing against our budget?

Whether or not you think this information is important to you, these fundamental questions are the building blocks of executive and management metrics and the inability to answer them indicates serious information flow issues.  Some CEOs respond to these questions by checking last months reporting package, but most times they do not have the information at all.

Well-meaning CFOs and HR leaders are sometimes stuck in the now or the status quo. They are mired in the administrative routine they have come to know and accept.  CFOs are typically accounting buyers, meaning they are fiscal stewards that tend to focus on the costs, not the economic benefits.  HR leaders tend to be feature/function buyers.  Both are well-intentioned buying strategies, but neither is game changing. Now, let’s say that the CEO delegates the selection of a new HR and Payroll system to HR and Finance.  Because they have only a departmental perspective, they will create a checklist of things they need, send out an RFP and choose a system that meets their departmental requirements of today, not the organizational requirements of tomorrow.  This is where the CEO should get involved.  The last thing most CEOs what to be involved in is an “IT project,” “HR project,” or a “Finance project.”  How can that be strategic? In actuality, that project could be the strategic differentiator for your organization.  This type of software solution has reverberating effects throughout an entire organization, not just the HR and Finance departments.  It drives widespread efficiencies, increases transparency, and provides real time reporting for critical decision-making. So much information that you are craving from finance and HR that is trapped can be unleashed. Stifled employee satisfaction and productivity can be unbottled.  Forward-looking executive metrics are available this second, not next month, so CEOs can make the right decision, right now. A CEO perspective on strategic HR can be described more in a recent blog post.

A unified HR and Payroll software solution can be a game changer for your organization. It can break down the silos of information.  It can free you from tiresome and tedious IT dependencies. It can give you the information you need to proactively control costs, cut administrative burden and transform your organization. It can allow HR to focus on making your organization an inspiring place to work rather than executing administrative tasks.  It can open up the information bottlenecks in HR and Finance.   Managers and employees can actually love a system and be more productive.  As a CEO, you are able to realize and understand the far-reaching impacts of increased automation, maximized profits, and an empowered workforce.  With a complete workforce application your organizational focus shifts from administrative tasks to strategies that promotes innovation and growth.

When CEOs turn their back on strategic decisions, it is endorsement for the status quo. When CEOs get involved in strategic decisions, it is an endorsement for change.

This DATIS Blog was written by Erik Marsh, DATIS, on April 16, 2014 and may not be re-posted without permission

Written by Erik Marsh

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