Delegation works – make it work for you!

Delegating - a difficult skill...

Of all the skills needed by a manager, delegation is one of the most important. It is important because it helps to develop one’s direct reports and at the same time frees the manager to concentrate on managerial tasks. However, for many managers, it is one of the most difficult skills to acquire because many people have an inherent reluctance to let go.

Why do we not delegate?

There are many reasons why people don’t delegate: some are justified while others are not.


1.For example, managers may feel that the only way to get a job done is to do it themselves. In some cases this is true. But more often than not this “I-can-do-it-better-myself” attitude disguises a lack of trust in one’s direct reports and their ability to perform and a fear that the direct reports will make mistakes.

2. A manager’s job does involve performing a number of technical tasks, but the bulk of the time should be spent on getting the work group to accomplish specific objectives. A manager has to let others do most of the “hands-on” work so that he or she can concentrate on managerial functions. Becoming involved in non-management tasks dilutes a manager’s effectiveness. This approach, however, does not preclude a manager “getting his or hands dirty”. Indeed, pitching into help can lead to more positive relationships with the work group.

3. A few managers even suffer from the martyr complex. Generally, workaholics, they enjoy being perceived as hardworking and working longer hours than everyone else. But, while martyred managers take pride in the number of hours worked and being constantly busy, they seldom use their time efficiently or effectively.

4. Another reason why managers fail to delegate is a fear that the job actually might be done better by someone else. Instead of lacking in confidence in their direct reports, some managers fear that their direct reports could show them up. This attitude also suggests a lack of understanding of a manager’s ultimate goal. Good performance by direct reports enhances a manager’s stature. Failure to maximise one’s human resources diminishes the chances of goals being met.

5. A manager may also feel that explaining tasks may take too much time. While this may be true initially, time is actually saved in the long run by training direct reports to do recurring jobs. A manager should not forget that one of their basic roles is to coach and counsel others.

6. There are also managers who mistakenly believe that delegating diminishes their authority. Although it is true that a manager must delegate authority to a direct report to allow him or her to accomplish a specific task, the manager still retains overall authority and can revoke all or part of the authority granted to the individual. The direct report is responsible for performing duties assigned by his or her supervisor, but ultimate accountability remains with the manager.


The benefits of delegating...

1. Managers must acknowledge their failure to delegate and realise that delegation provides substantial benefits. Indeed, delegation benefits managers and direct reports alike.

2. Through delegation, a manager can ease the job of managing and improving his or her effectiveness. Managers need time to carry out their managerial functions and responsibilities. Doing work that others can perform is not the best use of time. Unless a manager delegates, he or she is not really managing.

3. Delegation benefits report by providing an enriching and challenging experiences. For example, a routine task for a manager may be a growth opportunity for a direct report. By training direct reports to perform higher-level tasks, the manager prepares them for more responsible positions and provides a back-up in case of emergencies.

4. The delegation also pushes decision-making further down into the unit. The trend towards direct report participation in decision-making can be accommodated through delegation. Participative management is consistent with the goals of increasing direct report motivation and improving job performance. Direct reports become a more active part of the organisation and that leads to greater commitment and self-confidence on their part.

So, see, delegation does work. Go on, what are you waiting for?