Can’t delegate? Won’t delegate?

Delegation is a key management skill. When done effectively, it can save you valuable time, improve team performance, reduce your workload and lower stress levels, enhance skills of individuals and teams and really develop your people. These benefits are well known. But studies indicate that delegation is not as widely used as you may think and, indeed, when it is used, it is not always that effective.

There are a number of reasons for this and research indicates the following:

* Some Managers do not understand the benefits of delegation. They have never been adequately trained so do not always understand that a Manager’s role is usually to achieve results through others. They do not appreciate tasks which can or cannot be delegated, to whom tasks may be delegated, the skills involved in delegation, the styles and levels of delegation and so on. You get the picture. What they have heard though is that giving work to others is something they should do and so they engage in what is commonly known as “dumping” – in other words simply getting work off their own desk with no instruction and little or no support given to the poor recipient. This Manager needs a little help, I feel.

* Some Managers may feel they understand it pretty well but make the decision not to do it. They make excuses such as I can do it better myself, it takes too long to explain, my staff don’t possess the skills etc. But what they are really worried about is their feeling that delegation reduces their authority. What if they can do it better than me? How will that make me look ? Of course, there are tasks which cannot or should not be delegated but I would say that whilst the Manager might feel he understands delegation, he fails to understand that by effective delegation, the benefits listed above can be achieved and his authority and respect will actually improve. It’s really important that these challenges can be overcome as effective delegation can have wide-ranging benefits for delegator, delegator, company and customer.

3 tips that Managers might bear in mind:

  1. Forget your ego. Effective delegation will improve your authority and help build high performance teams. It is your job to develop people and your stock will rise, not fall
  2. Put your trust in your employees – very often they will be able to do the task better than you. You are not indispensable! But choose the task and delegatee carefully and use an appropriate style
  3. When delegating, plan your approach. Define the task, assess abilities then explain the reasons, the required result, the deadlines etc. And don’t forget feedback…


Don’t bury your head in the sand. Get delegating..