RECOGNIZING AND DEALING WITH BARRIERS TO DELEGATION
Managers often find delegation difficult. Barriers preventing delegation are often based on negative feelings of insecurity and mistrust. The gains achieved through overcoming these feelings and beginning to trust will far outweigh any positive losses.
Doing It Yourself
As a manger, you will probably be more efficient at many tasks than your staff. But if you attempt to do everything because you are quicker, surer, and more proficient you will inevitably find yourself overburdened. As a result, you will not have sufficient time to spend on the higher-level tasks that only you can do. Moreover, how will your staff become proficient if they are not given the opportunity to learn and perform more tasks?
Overburdening Your Staff
The fear of overburdening staff is a strong barrier to delegation – it is natural for conscientious managers to want to ensure that staff workloads are not excessive. If staff members appear to be working to full capacity, how can you delegate tasks without overburdening them? One solution is to keep back tasks and find time to do them yourself. A more sensible approach is to make employees analyze their own use of time and free capacity for more work. If staff shortage is truly the problem, the answer is to take on more staff. It is important not to allow the overburdening argument to result in overwork for yourself.
The basic mechanics of the delegation process involve common management skills that delegators should develop, including skills in controlling and reviewing. The challenge for managers with limited experience of delegation is to master the more complex aspects of the process, such as attaining an effective and appropriate leadership style. Delegation is a self-teaching activity – you develop and perfect skills through the process itself, and your confidence and abilities increase the more you delegate.
Losing Control of Tasks
The desire to be in total control is a common human trait. Delegation involves the loss of direct control, and this loss is a potential barrier to the delegation process. When delegating, the manager passes on responsibility to the chosen delegate – but the delegator retains overall control by appointing the right person, having a clear idea of how the task should progress, and exchanging regular feedback.
Dealing With Fear
Fear is a major barrier to delegation. Sometimes managers fear that delegates will perform so well that they challenge the delegator’s own position. A parallel fear is that “losing” part of the job diminishes personal importance. However, the most common fear is that the delegate will do the task badly. Tackle the fears by asking yourself four questions: Is the task suitable for delegation? Will I brief them fully and correctly? Will I give them all the right backup, authority, and resources? If the answers are positive, then there is nothing to fear, and the delegation should succeed.
Insecure managers who do not take advantage of delegation underuse employees and actually endanger their own security. But if you enlist skilled and motivated people to carry out the delegated work, there is no need to feel in secure. The use of delegation, far from being a threat to a delegator’s position at work, actually enhances performance and therefore increases job security. That is why many top managers have remarkably clear desks – they concentrate on a small number of priority tasks, and delegate everything else.
Being Too Busy
Planning your own daily and weekly schedule is an essential precondition of effective delegation. An overworked manager, with a disorganized and overloaded schedule, is both the villain and the victim of inadequate delegation. It is all too easy to establish a vicious circle. You do not delegate enough because you lack the time to explain or monitor the tasks that should be delegated, therefore you are always busy doing the tasks that should have been delegated – which means that you lack the time to explain or monitor the tasks that should be delegated, and so on. Organize your schedule to ensure that you have enough time available to plan and manage a delegation properly, including writing an effective brief and the actual monitoring of your delegates.
Questions To Ask Yourself
How much of my time is spent on things that I should be delegating to colleagues?
Can I learn from the way my own boss delegates to me?
Have I got my paperwork under control?
Why should it upset me if a subordinate performs part of my job brilliantly?
How much spare work capacity is there in my unit?
Points To Remember
Possessive feelings about work are negative and unproductive.
Keeping hold of minor tasks impedes the development of effective management.
Analysis of staff work time is sure to reveal spare capacity.
It is self-defeating and wastes time to attempt to manage without the use of schedules.
Delegation involves the loss of direct control but the retention of overall responsibility.
Avoid keeping work because you do it better – that is bad management.
Delegate efficiently to strengthen your own performance.
Be loyal to your staff and they will be loyal to you.
Expect delegated performance at least to equal your own standards.
Encourage people who claim to be overworked to keep a time log.
Remember that letting go of work gets easier the more you do it.
Use the delegation of tasks as an effective means of training your staff.
If you say “I don’t have enough time”, you are badly organized.