Strategies to Encourage Delegation in the Workplace

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  • 0:00 Why Managers Don't Delegate
  • 1:40 How to Improve at Delegating
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Giving up parts of your work can be scary! In fact, many managers struggle with delegating tasks to employees. In this lesson, you'll learn more about strategies to help you break the delegation barrier.

Why Managers Don't Delegate

The week of Max's big presentation is here, and he still has so much to do. There are graphs to finish, definitions to insert, and copies to make. That's on top of all the other tasks Max is responsible for completing.

He thinks about delegating some of these chores to his employees but decides against it. After all, there's probably not enough time to explain what he needs done. And he's afraid to relinquish control over the project he's worked so hard on up to this point. So he closes his office door and prepares to work late to get everything done.

Sound familiar?

Max's problems with assigning tasks to others, known as delegating, are just two of the many reasons that managers fail to delegate tasks that could be handled more efficiently by qualified staff members.

Another common reason for failing to delegate is that the manager has simply run out of time due to procrastination, which is one of the biggest concerns managers have about delegation. They wait too long to be able to effectively explain the instructions necessary for handing off an assignment.

Or perhaps the manager is a control freak. Simply put, many managers won't, rather than can't, let go of projects because they feel the need to control every facet of the project. They're responsible for the outcome, so they hoard the work that needs to be put into it.

Then there's the lack of trust managers may have in their employees. Delegating becomes more difficult when managers lack confidence in employees' abilities, whether it's justified or not.

Despite the litany of excuses out there for not delegating, it's possible for even the wariest manager to become a better delegator. Let's take a look at a few strategies you can implement to improve in this area.

How to Improve at Delegating

So you know you need to get better at delegating, but how do you go about it? Let's take a look at some of these ideas for becoming a better delegator.

First, start small. Learning to let go of smaller tasks will make it easier to let go of larger ones. This strategy is particularly effective in cases where a manager may not have trust in an employee's skills or when a manager is intent on trying to maintain control. It will allow an employee to build trust with the manager and help the manager learn to delegate.

Another idea is to learn to prioritize. You can make use of a system known as the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to determine the tasks you simply must do yourself and the tasks you can delegate, based on urgency and importance. Prioritizing delegated tasks can help tremendously with managers who avoid delegating because of procrastination. Using a tool like the Eisenhower Matrix requires adequate planning.

Also important is getting to know your employees. Each employee has his or her own strengths and weaknesses that make them an ideal or less-than-ideal candidate for each possible delegated task. Understanding these strengths and weaknesses will help you make better assignments and help you learn to delegate to someone who is qualified to handle the tasks they've been given.

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