Delegation is a tool for development, delight and de- stress!

When you delegate properly, you can use it as a development tool for your team. It can lighten your workload and reduce stress. It’s all about setting the delegation up for success.

 According to a Forbes article by Martin Zwilling (“How To Delegate More Effectively In Your Busi- ness”, 2013), London business school professor John Hunt found that only 30% of managers think they can delegate well, and of those, only one in three is considered a good delegator by his or her staff. This means approximately one manager in ten knows how to empower staff through delegation. 

In a 2014 Australian study, researchers Meagher and Wait found that there was a significant positive relationship between delegation and trust. Trust is fundamental to healthy relationships and relationships are fundamental to engagement and productivity. 

Letting go and allowing your team members or em- ployees to take on tasks and projects can be scary.

Do any of the following statements sound familiar to you?

  • I’ll just check in to make sure no one fails.
  • It’s easier if I do it myself.
  • They won’t do it right.
  • They won’t do it to my standard.
  • It’ll take too long to show them.
  • I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work.

If yes, then know you are not alone. And know that if you keep using these excuses, you won’t save time, develop others or reduce your stress levels.

Often, the root of these excuses is the manager’s fear of failure. The consequences may also be high if the delegation doesn’t work. Another common fear is that the employee is more skilled at the task or project than the manager, which leaves the manager feel- ing threatened. They become anxious about their job, credibility and reputation. Underlying these problems and fears is not having the right preparation and structure to delegate.

Delegation is like a remote control. Modern remotes have many buttons, but only a few buttons get used daily. This means the remote has untapped potential and value. Delegation is the same: when you successfully delegate, you give and receive far more value than you may initially realise.

Delegation provides advantages for you, your team or department and the organisation. These include:

  • The organisation increases and improves its reputation as an employer of choice.
  • When employees are given opportunities to develop and challenge themselves, their loyalty and productivity improve or, at least, they do not decrease.
  • When an organisation uses delegation to develop its employees, it is better placed to know who has the competencies to take on higher duties. It can move people into roles more quickly and with less reliance on extensive recruitment processes.
  • Employees’ skills are developed and enhanced.
  • Employee loyalty is strengthened as there are career-growth opportunities.
  • The bottlenecking that decision making causes can be costly. This is a common problem with leaders who don’t delegate. When staff are empowered to complete a task and make decisions, there’s less waiting around for the manager to sign off. Things get done! And when things get done, the sense of achievement is increased, which improves motivation and job satisfaction.
  • You have more time for strategic thinking and development opportunities.
  • The work that has a higher return or value gets done.
  • In your absence, the work will still be carried out.
  • Your own reputation will improve: you will be seen and known as being a trusting leader who
    invests in the development of the team.
  • Your career progression will be enhanced.

 Be assured that when you do delegate, and when you do it successfully, you will have more time to do the higher-level work that is expected of your position. So often I hear, “But people might think that I’ll be doing nothing.” You will still have plenty of work to do, but it will be the right work for your role. You will be achieving more because, in addition to implementing the other strategies relevant for your role, delegating creates more productive people, which allows you to be more productive.

Before you start delegating, you need to consider when and when not to delegate. Knowing when not to delegate is just as important as knowing when you can delegate.

When to Delegate:

  • When it provides an opportunity to develop and train someone.
  • When one of your people has a higher level of skill than you do.
  • When it would offer an opportunity for one of your people to shine.
  • When you have insufficient time and someone else has enough.
  • When you wish to motivate and show confidence in someone.

 When Not to Delegate:

  • When a person is inexperienced or unskilled at certain tasks.
  • When a person is unwilling to take responsibility for their own planning and productivity in a particular work area.
  • When a person does not feel comfortable or confident in a particular task.
  • When a person’s performance, while satisfactory, is not outstanding.
  • When a person is already at capacity – not based on an assumption, but after careful consideration and discussion.


 I’d love to know your thoughts…