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Why Isn’t There More Delegation in Management?

Everyone knows it’s a good idea. Everyone says they want to do more of it.

So why isn't there more delegation in management?

The Lack of Delegation in Management

Graphic Showing Being Stuck in a Sticky Situation

Here are the top five reasons I hear and observe as I’m coaching and training management teams. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably find at least one of these is true for you, too:

  1. You’re worried that people are already too busy
  2. You think it will take too much time to explain the task
  3. You don’t believe anyone can do it as well as you can
  4. You don’t want to give up power/control
  5. You don’t know how to delegate

If any of these reasons are keeping you from effectively delegating, then you’re going to be stuck in the same situation – too busy, stressed, overwhelmed, doing non-managerial work – until you move past these issues.

What’s more, because you’re not delegating, members of your team are also going to be stuck. Delegating is a great tool for development, and you’re depriving others of development opportunities.

So let’s address each of those common reasons and get you back on track to do more delegating.

Let’s Overcome Those Fears About Delegating

If you’re worried that people are already too busy ...

Then you need to take a look at what work is being done.

Are there are opportunities for next-level or other-department handoffs? Are tasks that don’t add value consuming too much time (and can they be abandoned)? Are people working efficiently? Or are they saddled with:

  • Meetings they don’t need to attend
  • Rework that results from poor training, multitasking, and unclear expectations
  • Internal time drains related to personality conflicts, turf protection, or other issues

One more thing to check -- are they working on tasks that are boring and unchallenging? If so, you can be sure that the work is taking longer to complete than it should. No one operates at peak performance levels when the work is mundane and unstimulating. By delegating, you can give people work that is just a little more challenging than their current skill level. Then, watch out! That’s where the real magic happens. When people get “in the zone,” they focus more and do better.

No one wants to be overworked. But no one wants to be undervalued either. Effective delegating makes it possible to re-engage people and show them how much you believe in their capabilities.  

If you think it will take too much time to explain it the task ...

Then you’re thinking short-term rather than long-term.

Add up the time it takes to do this task over and over again. Every time you do this task, you’re taking valuable minutes (hours?!) away from higher-level, more strategic, and people development work that would be more valuable to the company.

The trade-off isn’t the time you save today by doing the work yourself… the more valid comparison is how much time you’re losing over the long-term by not investing a little extra time today to teach someone else how to do this work.

If you don’t believe anyone can do it as well as you can ...

You’re probably right. But you should delegate it anyway.

After all, someone else used to be better at it than you were. You only improved and mastered this task because you were given the opportunity to learn, do, learn a little more, practice and perfect it.

Who knows? Maybe the person you delegate it to will do an even better job than you can.

If you don’t want to give up power/control ...

You’ve already lost power/control if you’re letting this mindset keep you from delegating.

Real power and control isn’t tied to a task. You have no ability to inspire or influence others if you’re hoarding:

  • Certain work tasks
  • Access to information
  • Learning opportunities

Sure, you can manage through command-and-control authority. But that’s not sustainable. It leads to higher turnover rates and low morale.

You may get to keep the tasks, but you won’t keep the team engaged and high-performing.

If you don’t know how to delegate ...

Then you’re in the right place! Check out this “delegating for development” website page we built for you. It includes:

  • The 8 Essentials of Effective Delegation
  • A challenge assignment
  • An easy tool to help you determine what to delegate and who to delegate to
  • And more!

Keep in mind that delegating is a skill. It’s not something you should or could automatically know how to do. It’s a learnable skill, though, that you will soon master and use to make yourself AND others more effective. Give it a try!Screenshot 2023-12-14 195648