Becoming an effective leader

2.2 - Review own ability to motivate, delegate and empower others


Activity - Take some time to identify some of the barriers to delegating

As you reviewed the previous list of reasons for not delegating, something might have become apparent to you—they aren’t valid reasons at all! They are excuses—excuses that create barriers to delegation.


When you let these barriers keep you from delegating, you short change yourself and your employees. But you can overcome these barriers. Let’s consider a set of responses to the excuses we just encountered. By thinking through all 12 responses, you’ll be armed with a full arsenal of barrier busters to break through any old habitual excuses that are getting in the way of your success!

◆      I hate dumping jobs on people who are already too busy. Then don’t dump! Good delegating means assessing your employees’ current workload, deciding what might be eliminated, streamlined, or reassigned, and then assigning something new. Besides, aren’t you awfully busy, too? Have some consideration for your own workload!

◆      My boss might think I’m lazy—that I’m not doing anything.

You’ll impress your boss more by delegating than doing!

Your boss probably realizes that it takes more time and skill to train someone than to do a familiar I-could-do-this-in-my-sleep job yourself.

◆      My employees would just gripe and be mad at me if I gave them more to do.

Again, you’ll want to pave the way by assessing your employees’ current workloads. Try to give them better work rather than just more work, and explain how the delegated tasks will help them grow professionally. One more thing: If your employees can control you by simply griping a bit, who’s supervising whom? Just say “no” to manipulation.

◆      I’m more of a doer than a delegator, and I like doing these things. I’m not sure I’d have such a sense of achievement doing new, unfamiliar work.

But you didn’t have that sense of achievement when you first began that job, did you? Then your fear of the unknown may have made you dread that job as much as you’re dreading your current one. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with these higher-level skills, you’ll have the same sense of satisfaction and contribution.

◆      Doing it myself gives me a high profile, and I like the recognition.

Then double it! If you can train someone else and later report a successful result, both you and your employee will shine. Also, if you like doing a task, chances are your chosen employee will, too. Therefore delegating something you could keep for yourself builds loyalty and motivation among your staff.

◆      My boss told me to do this task.

Chances are, your boss just wants the task done well, and she or he doesn’t care how or by whom. You’re expected to accomplish things through others. You increase your value as a supervisor when you develop the skills of your employees.

◆      I can do the job better than anyone else—I have the most experience.

Probably true! But you and your employees will never enjoy the considerable benefits of good delegation if you don’t allow them to practice and develop their own skills. Give them some solid on-the-job training and observant feedback. Know that even with your good coaching, their productivity will dip until they master a new task. Then their productivity will rise dramatically, and you can put your energy elsewhere.


◆      It’s just a habit—I do it almost before I realize it.

As the saying observes, old habits die hard. Instead of mindlessly reacting and doing a task the next time it pops up, be proactive. Make a plan now and begin training someone else to do it.

◆      I don’t know my employees well enough to know who could do other jobs.

Get to know them! You can observe your employees at work, talk to them about their strengths and goals, and/or give them the chance to try small projects on their own. When an employee shines, you’ll know that person is capable of more. The tips in later chapters of this book will help you match the right employee to the task.

◆      There’s no time to delegate. We need results quickly, so it’s easier to do the task myself.

This approach makes sense if you’re referring to a once-a-decade task. But if it’s a job that comes around routinely, taking the time to train and coach an employee now will save you much more time in the long run.

◆      If I delegate too much and people develop key skills, my own job might be in jeopardy.

But if you don’t delegate, your value as a manager or supervisor is limited, which puts you in higher jeopardy! Besides, some experts say the best way to be promoted is to train your replacement—that way, you can be freed to take a new position without a loss in productivity.


◆      My employees don’t have the information I have to make decisions.

Information is power, and everyone needs as much information as possible to effectively solve problems and make wise decisions. When company policy allows, provide employees with the information they need to make sense of a delegated task. When company policy dictates that you should not share a specific type of information with employees, delegation may not be an option, and you will have to do the job yourself.

Benefits for Employees

Improved morale

Employees chosen for delegation usually feel respected, appreciated, and trusted. When they succeed at a new assignment, they feel a sense of accomplishment.


Enhanced skills

As a result of learning new skills, employees are often more valuable and more promotable.


Enhanced job responsibilities

Learning a new skill or taking over a project allows employees to add some variety to a repetitive workload. (This can be especially valuable when there’s little opportunity for upward movement.)