How To Fail At Delegation


Delegation is part of every manager’s job and is one of the hardest aspects of any role.

There are a number of ways to master the art of delegation, but there are just as many ways to fail at it, too. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid when it comes to delegating in the workplace.

Back seat driving

One of the hardest parts of delegation is letting go of your most cherished tasks, or the ones you know take particular care and attention to detail. You will be tempted to hover over the shoulders of the employee/s you have assigned the work, and if you do that, you will no doubt have continual input along the way.

This is not delegating.

To delegate, you must hand over the management of that task in full, and trust that your employees have the skills and knowledge to complete it themselves, and the awareness of the right time to ask you for help if they need it.

Putting wants before needs

You would have to be superhuman not to consider your own preferences when doling out tasks that concern your own workload. Should you keep your favourite client on your own books? Should you make it easier on yourself with the lighter workloads?

For every delegation decision, take a step back and look at your plans. Ask yourself if you have based them on what needs to be done, or what you want. There’s nothing to say you shouldn’t enjoy the work you do, but if a certain task has no place on your desk and should really go to someone else, you may be failing to make the best delegation decisions.

Assigning a job but not the tools

A poor workman may blame his tools, but your staff won’t get anywhere without the right toolkit.

New jobs will often take new instructions, training and time. You will need to ensure the employee taking on the job has everything they need to complete the work, whether that’s the right knowledge or the right computer software. Take the time to set this up correctly and you’ll save time down the track that you would have spent cleaning up the mess.

Showing doubt

Many managers will come across a situation where, after just delegating a tough task to an employee, that staff member may be uncertain about their own skill or ability in tackling that role.

This is a critical moment for both of you.

As a leader, you need to show no doubt at all in your decision – even if you’re not 100 per cent sure. You need to explain why you think the employee is right for the job, to make it clear that you have complete faith that they can do it, and to assure them you will be on hand if they need advice or help.

If you appear to mirror their feelings of doubt, you will hinder their confidence, which could do more harm than good. With your backing, you’ll be amazed at what your staff can do.