Do You Have a Tough Time Delegating?

Joe Weinlick
Posted by

Employers hire teams of people to make company objectives easier to accomplish, but managers often undermine this goal by hoarding all the work. If you're stuck in a cycle of micromanagement, consider the benefits of trusting your team to take on new challenges. By strengthening your delegation skills, you can devote more energy to high-value tasks while empowering other employees to act as leaders and solve problems on their own.

Overcome Your Resistance

Although doing it all may seem like a virtue, micromanaging is a short-sighted strategy that prevents you from cultivating new leaders who can help the business grow. Managerial jobs are about finding the most efficient way to use resources, especially people, to create value for the company. However, you can't succeed as a leader if you're absorbed in everyone else's work. To unlock your delegation skills, try confronting the reasons why you're reluctant to share responsibility.

A common hurdle for perfectionists is overcoming assumptions that their work is inherently better than others, a mentality that organizational behavior expert Jeffrey Pfeffer identifies as "self-enhancement bias." Perfectionists don't trust workers to meet their standards, and their overbearing behavior eventually drives away good employees who desire more autonomy and responsibility. Other managers lack delegation skills because they mistake control for efficiency or perceive talented employees as a threat.

Once you acknowledge the source of the problem, Pfeffer recommends tracking your activity for a few days to determine where you can sharpen your delegation skills. If you're spending more time on low-level tasks than directing team outcomes, you probably aren't giving employees a chance to prove their worth.

Hire a Reliable Team

Trust begins with finding the right people for each job, making it essential to have a thorough understanding of how individual roles contribute to the team. Focus on skills, passion and cultural fit over strict experience requirements to recruit workers who are eager to learn and develop new solutions. When you know that a person has the skills to complete a project, you can confidently establish guidelines and checkpoints while allowing the employee to make decisions without interference. Limiting your involvement also helps you maintain a healthy work-life balance, relieving stress and resentment caused by your overzealous efforts.

Create Learning Opportunities

Managerial jobs enable you to be a boss and a coach, letting you use your delegation skills as a tool for professional development. Instead of limiting employees to jobs that complement their strengths, identify their interests and skills gaps to provide opportunities for growth. Create an environment of learning in which employees can ask questions, volunteer for projects and seek guidance in areas where they struggle. At the same time, face the reality that employees may fail before they succeed. By showing trust and support even when workers make mistakes, managers produce future leaders who are skilled at overcoming obstacles and keeping performance goals on track.

To use delegation skills effectively, you must accept that you aren't a company of one. At some point in your career, you relied on other leaders to recognize your potential and steer you in the right direction. Extend the same consideration to your team members, and trust them to use the intelligence and expertise they worked hard to develop.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch