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Time management - Poor delegation

Poor delegation


  • You can’t do everything yourself and delegation will help you achieve a lot more.
  • By using the skills and experiences of others you will often end up with a superior solution.
  • You will improve the input, experience and motivation by increasing ownership of tasks.
  • Reduced stress to you and much more time for strategic thinking.


There could be one or two clues if you are not delegating properly.

You could feel too overworked, your desk is untidy.
You are interrupted a lot by questions as you are the centre of knowledge and you feel irreplaceable.
You work longer hours than others, the team are poorly trained so that you have to tell them what to do.
Others can not attain your high standards.

Over control

The need to make sure every task completes successfully can drive a person to over-control. This can take the form of over-supervision or the need to ‘pass’ the process at all levels, sign all documents etc will not only give you more work to do but de-motivates your staff.

Loss of control

This fear leads to over-control. In fact, if the delegation process is agreed properly with the person, good controls will be in place, for example, progress reports at milestones etc. In other words, good delegation does not lose control.

Frightened of mistakes

If you take on too many tasks yourself, on the grounds that you will make sure that it is done properly, then you will have problems.
Delegation is a form of training. If the person you delegate to is inexperienced they will need to gain it. Sure you could have done it faster.
However, the person will learn and do it quicker the next time. Delegation is an education process for the person concerned.

This can be linked to a desire to show that you can do it better than anyone else.
This can show itself in a fear of failure and the idea that you may get the blame.
This is true, you would and should.
Remember you should choose wisely and if necessary monitor properly.


When a person is promoted away from the coal face there is often a longing to be back there doing ‘something practical’.
This leads to trying to take over and over supervise some jobs the now ‘manager’ used to do. You just have to let go and let others make mistakes. Remember the culture of the company should be such that it encourages personnel to report mistakes.

Lack of confidence

You may have a general lack of confidence in others. This may be due to their lack of training. Apart from the training by delegation you could instigate other appropriate training.

This lack of confidence is often in the person being delegated to. They feel that they do not have enough experience and will make mistakes.
You must point out your confidence in them and that it is a training opportunity. Encourage them to come to you with problems early but only if they can not solve them themselves.

Process steps


As we have said, if you can find the right person with the right skills delegation is likely to be more successful. However, skills are not only technical but also include the drive, leadership and decision making qualities required in terms of being able to see the task through to completion.
Remember the company culture of not looking for scapegoats and the need to train by delegation.

Delegation could be to another department not only someone in your team.


Make it very clear what you expect and agree it. What are the goals, timescales, reporting, budget etc? Before you do this, ask the person how they would tackle the job. You might be surprised and end up with a better outcome.


You can not delegate responsibility for a task without giving that person the necessary authority to act. You can delegate responsibility but you can’t delegate accountability. This can be in the form of control over a budget limit, personnel etc.

Progress reports:

Agree the frequency and the content of the reports.


Make sure you are available to advise and answer questions as necessary. However, don’t fall into the trap of ‘reverse delegation’ where the person brings you problems, that you take on board, which they should be solving themselves.


If you take on tasks that another should be doing you will help de-motivate them because they will feel de-valued and not stretched.


If you delegate and your team or team member do well make sure they get the credit and not you. You will get the reflected glory anyway and the boost in morale will be immense.


Sometimes you may feel that the person you are delegating to is unhappy to get the task. Try to ascertain why this is. Tell them that you feel they are the best person for the job. In this context best may not mean they will do the job brilliantly but they will benefit the most in terms of training and gaining experience.

Extra work

You may be reluctant to delegate because you believe the person is already over worked. This may be true. Alternatively, this may be down to other reasons.
Their own poor Time Management for example. If you delegate you may be doing them a favour in forcing improved methods upon them. You should have a good idea of the efficiency of your staff but you will need to monitor. The last thing you want to do is to de-motivate them and generate stress.

Non - PRINCE2 information