After a long weekend with glorious weather (at least at the end for me), I didn’t expect to return to work with the name “Dominic Cummings” still very much in my thoughts. I will not venture into political debate on the whole affair (that is perhaps best left for other bloggers and commentators) but there was something I took from the questions asked of Mr Cummings and his responses which is worth considering in the context of employment and HR.

One point put to Mr Cummings was that he ought to have asked the Prime Minister, his boss, before making the journey to Durham. Mr Cummings’ response, which I summarise, was that the PM’s time is precious, judgments have to be made as to what to interrupt him with and, ultimately, he (Cummings) exercised his own judgment.
In the “real” world, the same issues will present themselves to employees and management every day. If employees are in doubt about matters relevant to their work, managers should be there to help. If managers aren’t accessible, what is the potential fall out of an employee making their own decisions?

There must, however, be a balance. Managers may want to consider:

  • What is the extent of their (actual) availability to subordinates?
  • Do staff know when they can take issues up with management? Is it “as and when” or are there particular times of the day which should be used?
  • Which decisions can staff make on their own? Do they know the parameters?

Communication is key to establishing the hierarchy of decision making, in normal times and during the current turbulent times we are all dealing with.