A good manager will know when to delegate work and when to keep it, however this is not an instinctual behavior for most. The desire to maintain direct control, or that no-one will be able to do the job as well as you can, plus there is the whole issue of managing whoever you are handing the work out to.

It can be very daunting, but delegation of work is vital if you are to success as a manager, or indeed, as a leader.

The major benefits of delegating work are that you get to triage your own work, and free up time to focus on what is important overall to getting your objectives accomplished. You also will instill a sense of trust and teamwork in your subordinates, as well as providing them with valuable mentoring and experience in how you would get the work they are assigned done. Delegation is essential if your business is to develop competitive advantage and ensure your team and yourself are operating effectively.

business teamwork - business men making a puzzle over a white background
business teamwork – business men making a puzzle over a white background

So, what is stopping you from delegating?

The Fear of Losing Control Over the Work

This is a natural fear, however you can tackle this head on by ensuring the lines of communication between you and your subordinates assigned the work are clear. When you assign the work, i.e. delegate it, you should be cc’d in on when the task starts and again for any milestones you set to begin with.

You should also be receiving periodic updates at intervals you set, and these may be at the end of each day or week or month, depending on importance and urgency. You should be told what was done in the time period, what did not get done, and what is on the task list for the following day, week or month.

The Fear that No-One Else Can Do the Job To Your Standards

This is also a very common, but frequently misplaced fear which prevents managers from delegating tasks and responsibility. Many managers have risen to their positions because they have been very good at performing the work they now are finding themselves delegating. It is a bad habit to believe that no-one else can do what should now be low-level tasks as well as you can – indeed, it implies a lack of trust and confidence in your team.

Accept that your subordinates are competent, and they may have a different, or even better way of doing work than when you handled it yourself directly. Again, clear communication of what needs to be done and what the expected outcome is will go a long way to mitigating your concern.

The Fear of Delegated Work Costing You More Time

It is typical for managers, especially new ones, to be fearful that by delegating work it will in fact take longer to be accomplished. This is a serious misconception, and frequently revolves around the need to train up the person who is being assigned the work, or to establish and setup working processes to manage the work.

The truth is that by delegating work appropriately, you will actually free up more of your time, and overall productivity will in fact increase for both you and your team.

Delegation requires a different set of skills than many new managers are used to, such as finding the right person to do certain types of work, how to motivate and manage that person, including training them, and also how do you manage the workflow itself through to the finished product. Bluntly, it’s called managing, and managing well requires the skill and ability to delegate effectively.

Jane Wrythe is a business and technology writer and is currently writing a review for JobTraq, the market leading task management system.