Managers spend up to 20% of their time correcting and re-doing work that they assigned to others. Want to reduce that? The Devil is in the Delegation!

Delegation is something many people struggle with. And by people, I mean parents, teachers, community leaders as well as the prime suspect – Managers. The problem is that a lack of Delegation can lead to an epidemic called Learned Helplessness. This is an infection that causes people with perfectly healthy brains who rarely use them. Imagine, for a moment, the parents who decide that potty-training their toddler is just too time consuming and altogether too messy so they abandon it altogether and decide to leave the toddler in nappies for life. Or, a parent who couldn’t be bothered taking the time to show their toddler how to eat with cutlery, and see them happily munching their way through meals using their hands alone. Translate the same principles to work and you have scores of stressed-out managers who are trying to do it all themselves on one side, and teams of people feeling bored at best and useless at worst on the other.

So what lies at the root of this Delegation Deficiency? Well, from our work with stressed out Managers, here are three reasons I believe people to try to do it all themselves;

  1. They are perfectionists – some people believe, mistakenly, that because they have been doing this a certain way for a long time that it is the right way and must continue to be done to that standard. They cannot and will not accept any flaws or errors.
  2. They are fearful – believe it or not, some people are afraid that if they delegate a piece of work to someone else (a more junior person) that this person may just do it better than them. This could in turn lead to that person getting due credit for their work and, worst of all (!), maybe even becoming more senior than the delegator.
  3. They don’t have time – Some people believe that in the time it would take to explain a process of work to someone else, they would have it done themselves. While this may be true, it means that you will always have to do it yourself and reduce the chances of anyone else learning the process.

There is a somewhat crude saying that comes to mind here: ‘Why keep a guard dog if you are going to sit on the front porch and do all the barking yourself’? I believe the answer is because many people don’t know just how powerful Delegation can be. According to some international research on the subject, Delegating well can have the following benefits:

  1. Reduced Stress – As many of 82% of the population in Ireland admit to feeling stressed. Delegating the right task to the right person can remove some of the things off your to do list and allow you to concentrate on other tasks that may have a higher priority and more long-term value for you. So think of who could take ownership for the following types of tasks:
    • Cleaning your house
    • Blogging for your business
    • Researching suppliers of a product or service that you need
    • Doing your VAT return
    • Putting up your Christmas decorations!
  2. Better overall Productivity – another quote that I like comes to mind here – even though I do need to be reminded of it from time to time – ‘If you want to go fast, go alone – if you want to go far, go together’. So, basically, this means that you need to use the brains, skills and abilities of the people around you to get a better overall result. Team work takes time of course, so have a think about who on your team or in your personal life might have the capacity and the drive for a bit more responsibility. They may well welcome the opportunity to be trusted with a valuable task and will usually do their best to complete it to the best of their ability.
  3. Increased Motivation and Engagement – It’s no secret that people who feel trusted by their manager are happier and try harder than those who do not. Passing on responsibility will not always be met with appreciation so it’s a chance for you to see who is really on board with you and who is just here for the mercs and perks.

So now, let’s conclude with a simple 10-step process for removing the Devil from Delegation from your work and life:

  1. Create a list of the most common tasks you perform for work and/or things you do at home
  2. Separate the list into 2 columns – one for ‘Things that MUST be done by me’ (so, if you are a brain surgeon, you cannot delegate the surgery part, for example, but you could have a trainee brain surgeon prepare the patient and then observe you!) And in the other column, ‘Things that I could delegate to someone else’. If you are unsure of what to delegate, think in terms of lower-risk items that, if completed incorrectly, will not cause a massive negative impact to you, someone else, or the company.
  3. Looking at the list of things you could delegate, now write down the skills required to complete this task beside each task.
  4. Now consider WHO on your team or in your life has these skills.
  5. Pick up the phone or visit the person you have identified as being a possible delegate. Ask them about their workload and how they would feel about taking on a number of things from you. Listen carefully to their response.
  6. Assuming you have found someone open to hearing more, the next thing to do is write a checklist for each task – what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, when does it need to be done by, what contact details do you need to share, do they need any passwords or access to files to complete the task? You could support this with flow diagrams or processes.
  7. Set out a plan for when you will sit down with the delegate and explain this task process in detail with lots of time for them to ask questions and take their own notes
  8. Agree on a plan for ‘Checking In’ with the delegate. Note, this is Checking In, not Checking UP!’ Once you are somewhat satisfied that they are capable of making a start, leave them alone and let them at it.
  9. Be available for support – Delegation is not DUMPING – stay around and make sure you are not due to go on two weeks’ holiday to the other side of the world while these tasks must be done. Be on the phone, email etc., in case the delegate has questions.
  10. Give Credit for work well done – This may be in the form or a monetary reward or some praise or recognition that this person is due from you or other people within your organisation.

Here at MONERE Development Services, we help people to perform at their best through training, coaching and on-line webinars. We have a 5 day First Time Managers course designed specifically to help managers get the best from their team. To learn more, please see or call today on 058 75000.

Share this: