Vacation time? Learn to delegate!

Cell phones going off at the beach, personal e-mails full of work messages. . . Do these situations ring a bell? For many people, “vacation” does not rhyme with “relaxation.” And yet, learn to delegate is a key human resources skill! This summer, gives you a few tips on how to manage your absence better.


Because they fear losing part of their authority or by lack of trust in others, many HR professionals hesitate to hand over a part of their duties to their co-workers when vacation time rolls around. The result: you work longer hours, files pile up and vacation is no longer vacation. To avoid burnout, learn to delegate effectively.

Start by analyzing your own duties, in order to decide what can safely be left to someone else and what cannot. On a daily basis, only a small portion of your duties require strategic skills. From the initial screening of CVs to the administrative follow-up of work accidents, a whole series of activities can be performed by a short-term replacement. Then propose a list of duties and write it down, as you would for specifications. Be very specific on the objectives to be met, standards to be observed, means to be used, and the limits of the assignee’s decision-making authority. That being said, no need to be shy! Delegating is not about offloading unpleasant tasks.

Once the breakdown of tasks is set, the time has come to choose someone. At this step, you should be thoroughly familiar with your circle to properly evaluate the motivation, skills and limitations of everyone. Do not stop at what your co-workers can already do. Think in terms of unexploited potential. You have to boost your replacement by giving him or her decisions involving responsibility. Feeling that he or she has your trust will reinforce motivation. Give the person true leeway in doing the work, and do not always be looking over his or her shoulder. Remember, you’re on vacation! There’s no need to call the office every day to hold on to your sense of indispensability.

Conversely, before and especially after your period of absence, plan on meetings to make sure the delegation is running smoothly. This will enable an assessment of the replacement’s progress. If the results are positive, a promotion or a salary increase may be called for.

You have understood that delegating is not a last-minute affair. Sometimes, it may require months of advance preparation. Ultimately, though, delegating is a win-win operation. The recruiter enjoys a certain peace of mind, the replacement acquires management experience and the company builds it human capital.

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