Delegate Successfully

Delegation is imperative, if you want to grow and be successful.

For some however, delegation can be painful.  Others have not delegated because they don’t know what else to do with their time.  They just continue to do what they do.  Yet others are not even aware that they are not delegating well.

Lack of delegation shows up as various symptoms… lack of time, a feeling of not getting enough from your juniors, a sense of stagnation…

Why Delegate

  1. For you to be able to do other things and grow
  2. to let your juniors grow
  3. Grow your business, do more as an organisation

Why Does Delegation Not Happen

Some possibilities…

  1. It can be irritating to teach others to do the tasks you are good at.  You may find it easier to do it yourself
  2. You fear that your juniors will make mistakes and that will have an impact on you, your business
  3. You have a belief that things must be done the “right” way i.e. your way. Or else…disaster! (perfectionist)
  4. You underestimate your juniors’ current abilities or their ability to grow to the challenge
  5. You are scared that if your juniors create a mess then you will end up doing a lot of troubleshooting. Something that you hate.
  6. You are scared of receiving criticism from customers, seniors for the situation. Some people more than others don’t receive criticism well.
  7. You are really good at your current job.  Your juniors cannot do it as well.  But you harbor the false belief that it needs to be done that well
  8. You derive a sense of security in continuing to do what you do
  9. You are scared of becoming disconnected from the day-to-day
  10. You have a fear of becoming obsolete or redundant
  11. You think that fundamentally your worth is based on what you are doing today and the skills you have today
  12. You don’t know how else to occupy yourself
  13. You lack the planning skills
  14. You lack the discipline required
  15. You don’t even realize what is happening
  16. There is not enough pressure or work load on you that forces you to delegate.

What Can Be Done

A quick check with your boss and with your reports can tell you whether you are delegating well and enough.  Look at 360° feedback.

If you find out that you are not delegating well, think about the reasons why this may be happening.  Use the list above for pointers.

Think through WHY you need to delegate. The benefits to the organisation, to you and to your juniors.  Does it really make sense?

Imagine what else you could be doing, how life would be, once you have successfully delegated.  Does that alternative look good enough?

What is the biggest attraction to delegate?  Create the drive within you to delegate, with clear awareness of where you want it to lead you.

In Order To Delegate Well

Setup clear goals for your department or business

Give your reports a clear idea of the outcome that they are responsible for, individually and jointly

Give them the space to operate. Don’t breathe down their neck.

Find others things to do. Otherwise you may find yourself getting pulled back in

Communicate well with the team and with each member

Be available, but only as much as required

Teach, coach, mentor your juniors

Accept that there may be failures on the part your juniors when you delegate

Think twice before you jump in to troubleshoot

Have the discipline to conduct strong, regular reviews

Create informal relationships with your juniors’ juniors to get the pulse of the “shopfloor”

Don’t let your reports create empires from where no information flows out.  Recognise such cases and break them up ruthlessly

Don’t Wait For Ideal Conditions

You don’t have to wait for all the pre-requisites to be in place before you delegate. Sometimes putting your juniors on the firing line, may be good training for them.  Let them manage.

Do It Gradually When Possible

Sometimes a sudden attempt at delegation can make it seem like you have lost interest. Especially if you have not communicated your intention or given your reports clear goals.

Don’t “Delegate” Your Way Out Of Trouble

It is unethical to dump a problem situation on your juniors in the name of delegation.  Delegation works only when your juniors know that you own the situation as much as they do.

Reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon strip.  The new joinee is told “We are putting you in charge of the missing funds!”


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Madhu on September 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Very enriching piece of article. Are there any tasks that should “NOT” be delegated?


  2. There will always be some things in your current role that only you should do. For example, if you have 3 reports, only you can do their appraisal.

    If you have to fire one of them, best do it yourself. Dont “delegate” it to HR. They can be part of the process.


  3. This one is important: “Don’t “Delegate” Your Way Out Of Trouble”. We should delegate for the purposes of time and focus, not fear. If we delegate something we would just ‘like to avoid’, we’re probably lacking mastery in this area.


    • I agree. There are situations however, where the superior need not have mastery over the area. For example, head of a business unit may not be the best at manufacturing. Her junior might be better. This point has not been made in the post.


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