Like most entrepreneurs, when I started the business, I was the Director of everything. Director of Development, Director of Clinical Services, Director of Finance, Director of Executive Decisions, and of course, the Director of Human Resources. I mean, I was the one looking at resumes (and giving feedback…Lord, I could never JUST look at a resume, I always had to give feedback–see, always “doing the most”), conducting interviews, hiring, having training plans, building out team time, planning events for us to have fun, and so much more. So, much more. And, in this role, I spent a lot of time developing folks' professional abilities, responsibilities, and responses. The latter was the most challenging. It’s the part of helping people identify their patterns of behavior when they are happy, sad, frustrated, confused, feeling purposeless or hopeless, and having compassion for themselves when something doesn’t work out when and/or how they planned it. It’s also the part that means, I have to step outside of the naturally human experience and compartmentalize my feelings and maybe even my vision. For me, this occurs when one of my staff is bothered by something and projects it on me (transparently, there are times when I have earned their expressions and frustration because I am not perfect and don’t even know what perfection–as a supervisor–would look like for each of them…although I try). In those moments of projection, I lead with simple skills related to communication, boundary setting, and problem solving. And, that may mean that I appear more objective than subjective, and more logical than emotional, which can be a challenge when someone is upset. But, it’s my boundary and within my skills of management so that I don’t get emotionally hurt when someone is mad, especially if it isn’t my fault.
But, this was the last directorship I let go of, as a small business owner.
As the business grew, (and it grew and continues to grow with people I trust), I hired and delegated people for various roles, such as hiring a Director of Operations, of Development, of Clinical Services, of Training, and then…of Human Resources.
The latter was a tougher decision for me because in that role, I felt like I had a good pulse of the culture of the company and the people that worked within it. I was hiring people that wanted to work with me and could see my vision. And, this sounds great except, most of our newest hires don’t work directly with me. Instead, they work with their Directors. So, if I am hiring people that work with me and my leadership style, what does that mean for my Directors who don’t lead like me but have to manage these people?
Well, in 2021, I learned the lesson, the hard way. Some of the staff members were not responding well to their Directors and their Director’s leadership style (even though the Directors were people that I valued and trusted and the staff were also people that I valued and knew they would work well with me) but in doing so the outcomes resulted in tension, the creation of professional and emotional distance, toxic interactions, frustration from the staff and their Directors, and in some cases–quitting or termination.
And, the lesson that I learned was: While the Directors conducted the 2nd interviews (we had 3 at the time), I was the one that made the final decision and, instead, they should have made the final decision.
Yup, in our current structure, our final HR decisions are made by their Directors. Not me.
And, while I’ve met a few business leaders who are the final decision maker in their HR hiring process and do not agree with my decision, I simply state a few points (below) as the basis of my rationale:
The Directors work with the staff daily. They know their personalities, work style, communication style, and most of the things that make them a professional. They can see their strengths and areas of improvement in ways that I can not. Therefore, since they are going to have to work with them daily, they should be the one to hire them.
To develop someone, you have to know enough about them to help them and to truly see them. In my position, I often see compliance and agreement but I don’t see a staff member’s issue areas. And, because I can not see, I should not make decisions on issues that I am blind to addressing.
I trust my Directors and I want them to trust themselves. While they may be considered “middle management,” they manage a large percentage of the company because they manage the overall staff. MY leadership team that I manage, is a total of 5 (and yes, I have my EA and external teams too) but each Director manages no less than 10 people. They need to see the power that they have…and they need to see it from the beginning. At first, they were scared to make hiring and termination decisions, but when I continued to encourage them and show them that this was my manifestation of the trust that I have for them, they became more agreeable in the process and began to take pride in it. And, it's worked so far. I'm proud of the process and proud of them.
And, while there’s probably more that I could write, what I am left with is this: I trust my team and want them to have an environment that they enjoy working in. Therefore, I give them autonomy, trust, and leadership so they can do what they need to do. And yes, they still get professional development and training in leadership too.
Oh, and one more thing I learned, I don’t need to control everything to have the outcomes look like how I want them to look and be. I just have to set the vision, do my part, trust that others will do their part, course correct as needed, and trust in my spiritual guides. It will always work out.