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How OHS Directors can fail in one of their key functional task, – Delegating

July 12, 2013

Delegation ISQEM

Delegating responsibility for occupational health and safety (OHS) to all levels of a company is a common statement used by many organisations around the world. Yet quite often we see the main responsibility sitting on the shoulders of the OHS Director or other senior safety staff.

The problem is many people are not taught how to properly delegate and therefore continually make some very common mistakes including:

1.Believing you’re the only one who can do it ( I’m the safety expert syndrome)

This is a natural temptation by some OHS Directors to keep all things safety under their direct control. This naïve approach can result in demoralising your team and severely undermining a safety culture within your organisation. It can also have a direct impact on a director’s ability to add value to the organisation from a strategic and business point of view.

The main role of being an OHS Director should be to direct, getting things done through delegation, and encouraging other people to take on a management and functional responsibility.

2. Delegating without clarity, failing to ensure that you and the other person are on the same page.

Directors often forget to make sure they agree with their staff, about what a successful outcome would look like and then are surprised when the work produced is not what they were expecting. It is vital that everyone is clear on what they will be doing, to what time frame, and any other restraints or conditions that might impact on their delivery.

3. Failing to keep in touch and monitoring progress.

If you have already discussed with your team from the start what you’re expecting, the work should happen according to plan and meet all your expectations, or so you hope. In reality many people are often left on their own to complete a task, with no real constructive follow-up to ensure things are running smoothly and to plan.

Now this does not mean sitting behind a desk and emailing for progress updates. It’s about supporting with resources and removing obstacles, and adapting work plans when necessary. This is the single biggest failure of most people in management positions.

4. False Delegation and holding onto the reins of power.

We have all come across individuals who for various reasons are nervous about delegating and are continuously thinking about what if it goes wrong. They normally start off with allocating the task to a competent member of their team. However they then struggle to let go of the routine work and continue to drive or even worse do the majority of the work themselves.

This false delegation approach leads to total confusion about who is actually responsible for the work being done and builds a lack of trust between team members, resulting in poor performance and low morale.

5. Delegating to the wrong person.

When delegating work you have to be sure that the individual has the appropriate skills and talent to get the job done. Never appoint someone just because they volunteer, or have spare time on their hands. The ability to delegate is one of the most important things you do as an OHS Director, so you have to learn how to do it right, or you will definitely fail in your corporate responsibilities.

6. The Scattergun Approach

The scattergun approach is where a person delegates the same task to several people or departments, hoping to get at least someone to complete the work. This is normally a sign of miss-management by a director and failing to understand the skills of delegation. It is often used by someone who is insecure within their job role and fear criticism of any kind.

By adopting the scattergun approach you will alienate not only your direct team, but also other departments who depend on your support and direction.

So what should you do?

Well, the art of delegation is really simple:

• It’s about identifying what needs to be accomplished,
• finding the right people to do the job
• clearly communicating what you’re expecting to be delivered,
• supporting and following up to ensure you’re getting results;
• and most importantly creating individual responsibility and accountability.

Remember, delegation is the process of assigning or transferring authority, decision making or a specific administrative function from one entity to another.

If you put delegation skills as part of your own professional development requirements, you will be on the right track for successfully supporting your team and company in creating a sustainable safety culture

About the Author; Wayne J Harris

Wayne J Harris

Wayne is a highly regarded international specialist in developing corporate risk and HSE management systems with over 30 years experience within high-risk environments. He has advised major organisations both private and governmental, on key issues of strategy and organisational risk and safety management. Wayne’s experience in dealing within the international arena and multiple cultures from Europe, Asia-Pacific, to the Middle East has given him a comprehensive understanding of the global risk issues facing an organisation in today’s business economy. He has held various senior corporate roles, and has sat on the Board of Directors of several companies including a Chamber of Commerce. He is also the Chairman of ISQEM, and a Director of the World Safety Organization (WSO)

One Comment
  1. NWACHUKWU, EVEREST permalink

    This is a good contribution. This piece has helped me develop my perspective on management.

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