What Stops Managers Delegating?

In my experience as a leader within blue chip organisations and over the last 10 years as an external learning and development professional, one of the most significant challenges I see managers have is around delegation.

However, I am in no doubt that delegation is one of the most powerful tools a manager has in their toolkit. Having worked with many successful managers and leaders at all levels in organisations across the globe one of the standout skills they have is the ability to delegate effectively.

In this article, I want to share why it makes sense for managers to delegate and what stops them. I’ll also include a few suggestions on how to start.


Why It Makes Sense To Delegate



There are so many reasons why delegation is one of the critical skills of any successful manager, so I have chosen my top four.

1. Increases your contribution  

When you delegate some of the work you are responsible for you will improve not only your productivity but also your contribution to the business. You, plus 2 or 3 of your team taking action and delivering are better than one.

2. Empowers and develops your team   

Delegation helps to develop team members. The more you introduce them to new tasks and challenges the more engaged they become. Your team appreciate and recognise that you are creating opportunities for them to learn and grow. This can be within their current role or by taking on one of your responsibilities which increases the span of their role.

3. Demonstrates trust   

When you delegate and empower individuals, you are also communicating a powerful message.

That is: You Trust Them.

High performing teams are built on trust; delegation is key to demonstrating this.

4. Frees up your time to take on new development projects yourself  

When you delegate, you create more time for yourself to invest in developing as a manager and leader. This could be used to spend more time with your team coaching than to even great success or being involved in strategic projects that take you outside your core role helping you to build new skills.

What Stops Managers Delegating  



With so many significant benefits; why don’t managers delegate?

Here are some of the most common ‘reasons’ I have come across over the years  

  • There isn’t time! 
  • I can do it quicker myself than taking time to explain what has to happen… 
  • What if my team member does it better than me? 
  • No one can do ‘it’ as good as I can 
  • ‘They’ won’t do it in the way I like it done 
  • I don’t trust them to do it on time or how I like it  
  • If I delegate too much, I could make myself redundant 
  • If ‘they’ learn new things, they might want to go do something else
  • They might want my job 

There are more, and I think the above gives you a good sense of how limiting some of these beliefs and opinions are.

Sadly, what many managers don’t realise is the one person whose career can become limiting is their own.

How To Start Delegating   

There are some simple steps you can take to start improving your delegation.

Step 1
Learn what is involved in delegating effectively. Simple I know, and yet this is an area where people still make mistakes.



Step 2
Write a list of what you can delegate. Take note when you find yourself thinking ‘I can’t delegate that task’. Ask yourself if the reason you are creating falls into the above list? If it does, it’s not valid.  

One of the main reason not to delegate is that only you have the company or legal authority to action a task.

Step 3
Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and what their development areas are.


Step 4
Decide what you can delegate to whom.

Step 5
One by one take time to have a full conversation with a team member around what you are delegating. You will know exactly what to cover in this discussion when you have taken step 1.  

Be honest with yourself, how good are you at delegating? If you recognise yourself in any of the points about what stops managers delegating, there’s probably room for improvement.

By acting to learn how to delegate or brush up on your skills, you will make an immediate impact on your productivity, save yourself time and see an increase in your team’s motivation and engagement.


Until next time,