When NOT to Delegate
Have you ever heard anyone say that leadership is about getting everything done all by yourself?
Neither have I.
We all know that leadership is the art of getting things done through other people. The way to do that is through effective delegation. The best leaders, though, also know when not to delegate in their business. They know that, when delegating business tasks, there are numerous factors to consider before an informed decision can be made.
This is an excerpt from our course, “Liberation Through Delegation.”
8 reasons why leaders would not want to delegate.
- Office harmony. If the decision to delegate a task or a project will make waves among your team, consider keeping the peace by not delegating. Or, if you do delegate, be sure that everyone on the team knows why you are handing the task over the person you are delegating to. Transparency is the gateway to harmony here.
- Willingness and ability of the individual. This is obvious, but I list it as a reminder to pause and really think about who is the right person to complete the task or take on the project. That’s not to say that there aren’t times when we need to complete work that is not interesting or challenging, but handing work off to someone who is neither willing nor able, creates a no-win situation.
- Goals of the individual. Someone may be willing, and have the ability to get the assignment done, but it may not align with their professional goals. Maintain consistent communication with your team, so you can appoint meaningful stretch assignments that help people progress their skills and interests. If working on the project will conflict with or slow down the achievement of their goals, consider alternatives before assigning it to them.
- Discretion. Whether it’s a sensitive matter internally, or may be more public, there are times when discretion is critical for projects. The more common way I see indiscretion show up is when people boast about their accomplishments, without regard as to whether the matter is sensitive in nature. If that is the case, it may be more appropriate to keep the task on your plate.
- Legal exposure. Giving someone too much authority can be a risk. During the ‘hand-off’ conversation, be clear on the boundaries of decisions they are able to make and when to bring you, or the legal team, in on the discussion. But keep it in your planner if the legal risk is too high.
- No time to support them. It is likely never the ideal moment to take time out to train and coach someone on a new project. If you have too many priorities to be available to coach someone through a new situation, consider waiting until the next opportunity arises so that you set them up for success, instead of throwing them into the water and hoping they can swim.
- Relationships with stakeholders. Consider all stakeholders, internal and external, and how they will be affected by the process and the outcome. What is their expectation? For instance, if you have a long-standing relationship with the counter-party, they may be offended if you allow someone to step into your shoes on the matter. Don’t delegate if it would strain the relationship.
And the number one reason NOT to delegate is…
- Customer satisfaction/retention. This one is obvious. If the retention or happiness of a customer would be at risk should things not go well, a better approach is to hold onto it yourself. Alternatively, you can involve a protégé and slowly transfer ownership to them over time.
Delegating is a skill that can be done poorly, or can be done in a manner that motivates people to get stuff done. We coach you through effective delegation in our leadership development course, “Liberation Through Delegation”.