Nearly all first-class managers are good delegators. If you’re not, scan this list of reasons people don’t delegate. Compare the reasons with your own behavior. Once you know why you have trouble delegating, you can work to overcome this common managerial disorder-and leap ahead.
LONE RANGER SYNDROME. (Or, “I’m the only one who can do it right.”) Some bosses seem to relish the role of managerial martyr or supervisory Sisyphus (rolling that heavy burden of decisions up the hill every day, only to have it roll back down again). Yet, at the risk of sounding negative, there are hundreds of downsized managers who deluded themselves into believing that they were the only ones who could do their former jobs correctly. Nobody but nobody is indispensable.
I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENS. You’re right, you are. Sure, it’s scary. Richard Nixon once said, “I have an absolute rule. I refuse to make a decision that somebody else can make. The first rule of leadership is to save yourself for the big decision. Don’t allow your mind to become cluttered with the trivia.” When the Watergate slammed shut on his fingers, however, he became a victim of this immutable management truth.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but agile managers have come to terms with this reality. Through delegation, they’ve prepared employees for handling certain tasks and decisions, making themselves less worried about their performance.
I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TEACH SOMEONE ELSE. Oh, really? If you don’t, who will? The higher that pile in your in-basket climbs and the longer your list of e-mail, the worse your job becomes and the more panicked and overwhelmed you feel. There’s virtually never an ideal time to teach an employee how to do a newly delegated task. The best time to begin grooming employees for delegated work is right now.
MY PEOPLE ARE OVERLOADED ALREADY. Well, who isn’t? If you can find anybody in your organization who doesn’t complain about being too busy, they’re probably prime candidates for downsizing. Although you should be sensitive to your employees’ work loads, morale, and protests, you should also realize that most workers feel “too busy” today. Besides, it’s not hard to delegate compassionately, sympathetically, and tactfully.
I HATE TO LOSE THE CREDIT. If you’re in a team-oriented organization, it’s likely that you’re sharing credit for your group’s success already. Teamwork isn’t compatible with credit thieves and Lone Ranger managers. Even if your organization hasn’t adopted teamwork, however, appreciate the wisdom and long-term benefits of sharing credit with your people. The better they look, the better you look. After all, you’re responsible, right?