How do I delegate effectively? (Part 1)

Intellectually, we all get it, we know that we need to delegate.

Many of my coachees have been on courses about delegation, yet it still does not translate into a change of behaviour.

I have identified below some of the more common reasons for not delegating which come up in our coaching session:

I don’t have the time” Delegating, although initially time consuming eventually frees up time so why would we not create time to ultimately save time?It often comes down to prioritisation, leaving things to the last minute so that there really is not the time to delegate effectively.  This is a really good excuse we can give to ourselves for not delegating, but is it really a barrier?

Although time is presented as the barrier to effective delegation, there are underlying reasons which are the real cause.

“the person I am delegating to is swamped too” Concern for the other person, ie the one to whom you are delegating to, is probably the second most common reason I hear.This can have some legitimacy, in that, the person may not have the necessary skill set to perform the work as effectively as you might, so will take longer to complete the task.  They may also have a high workload too.

As their line manager your role is to help them to manage their workload, to develop the skills and expertise to be as good as you at the tasks delegated.

Often this is simply an assumption on the part of the manager.

“There is no point” This negative assumption can have several underlying causes which might include:

  • Not seeing the value of delegation as a development tool
  • Assuming the other person will not do it to your standard
  • Not wanting to let go control
  • Cultural norms in your organisation which reward being ‘super-busy’ and managing a high workload

I have found when I probe these excuses a little more, there is often an underlying lack of trust which is the real barrier to delegation.

This lack of trust takes two forms.

  1. Trust in the other person to:
  • Do the task as well as you would
  • Have the capacity to do the task to the timescale and standard required
  • Have the capability to do the task
  • Approach the task with the right attitude

2. Trust in yourself to:

  • Delegate effectively to ensure that the task and your expectations are understood
  • Let go control of the task
  • Delegate in a timely way to enable the other person to complete the task effectively

The key to effective delegation is to understand where your lack of trust lies, then work on ways to increase the trust to enable you to delegate effectively.

If you would like more information on effective delegation or would like to look at coaching to help you increase your effectiveness at work contact us on 01926 633086 or