Unfortunately, Some Managers Do Not Delegate When It Matters Most
Delegation at work isn’t just about giving other people work so you, the leader, aren’t burdened with it. Effective delegation becomes a force multiplier. It allows you to drive results through other people and greatly increases your ability to get things done.
But unfortunately, too many leaders fail at delegation, blighting their careers in the process. Why is that?
The Research on Why Some Managers Do Not Delegate
Our microlearning experts point to researchers from the University of California, Riverside. They did two studies in which they surveyed people about how powerful they felt in various aspects of their lives, and also about their attitudes toward managing employees.
The researchers found that the less powerful these people felt, the more likely they were to agree with authoritarian management where bosses micromanage all decisions. The idea the researchers came away with was that managers who feel insecure try to compensate by exercising tight control over their employees.
Based upon what we hear in most management development programs, that’s a startling conclusion.
It’s not that managers drunk with power and swollen with authority try to meddle in their employees’ every action. No, it’s the reverse. Managers, especially new managers, who aren’t sure of themselves are the ones most likely to micromanage, out of fear and feelings of inadequacy.
Other Top Reasons Some Managers Do Not Delegate
Based upon data from our leadership simulation assessments, in addition to fear and feelings of inadequacy, some managers do not delegate because of:
- Role Confusion
Managers admit to thinking that their job is to do the “important things” and pass the routine work on to their subordinates. That’s part of what delegation is about, but not the key part. Ultimately, delegation is not about you, the leader. It’s about them, your employees.You can multiply your impact only if you replicate your knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors in others.
- Lack of Career Development
Managers can’t just take a “sink-or-swim” approach, throwing employees into the fray without proper training. Instead, when employees are hired, their leaders need to give them an individual development plan with a clear agenda that aligns with their career aspirations and company priorities.This includes a list of goals and desired outcomes, a series of incremental tasks that will build the employees’ competence and confidence, support resources required for success, and specific dates when these tasks need to be accomplished.
When Not to Delegate as a Manager
There are also specific times and situations where leaders ought not to delegate to their teams. For example, if there’s an operational crisis, the leader may have to step in to take over because there may not be time or latitude for delegation. It’s also inappropriate to delegate to beginners or to people who lack the core skills required. That would be an abdication of responsibility.
The Bottom Line
When you delegate effectively, you chalk up two big wins: First, as you replicate the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that made you successful, your organization gets an entire team of high performers. And second, you then have the time to take on high-level strategic activities and make an even greater impact.
Are you insecure in your management role vis-à-vis your employees?
To learn more about becoming a better people manager, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers