Have you a management philosophy? Mine is if its not explicitly against the rules then I can probably get away with it.

As a senior manager I told a large gathering of managers that they should not be asking HR or finance for permission to do what they wanted to do they should ask for advice and then accept or reject it. This caused a bit of a stir around the room especially as the HR and finance directors were sitting next to me on the conference platform!

Just to ram home the point I said it’s your decision not theirs, you are responsible for your staff and your services.

‘You decide because you are responsible, but be prepared to justify your decision’

Some weeks later I asked a manager why they had made a rather controversial decision against the advice of HR. They replied that at the conference I had said they didn’t need HR permission to do what they wanted, it was their decision so they decided. Very good I replied but what was the reasoning behind your decision? Well this member of staff has always been difficult so I told them either do it or you won’t have a job.

The next time I gave my speech to managers I emphasised you decide because you are responsible but be prepared to justify your decision and it won’t be acceptable to say well HR/Finance told me to.

The head of HR liked this version much better.