Signs of Poor Delegation

Today I would like to share with you some of the warning signs that you may observe when you are not delegating effectively. Sometimes people may be completely oblivious that they could be responsible for the delegates being "incompetent". In this post, we will go over some of those warning sign. Just a note, that I'm fully aware that there could be other reasons for these signs manifesting themselves but it is nonetheless something to be aware of.

Warning Signs

1. Inbox is always full
This is a sign that you are not getting a chance to do your work possibly because you are overloaded and not passing on some of the work coming to you. It is important to create a system that is independent of yourself and that you can give the tasks to the right people.

2. You are working overtime for months
You will often find the people who work a lot of hours take pride in that fact, saying things like "Look how hard I work". However, what they should be trying to do is working smarter, as the number of hours you put in isn't really a indicator of your intelligence. If you are working so many hours, you may not be entirely efficient and this could be an indicator of poor delegation skills.

3. The work that is delegated is not meeting the required standard or incomplete
You may find yourself in the situation where the delegates are not doing a good job. This could be due to the delegates poor performance, giving the tasks to the wrong people or that your delegation skills aren't up to scratch. If you find that you are constantly having to go over peoples work then it could be an instance where you need to provide them with training. The Delegation Check list would be a good starting point to make sure your task is communicated correctly.

4. Time deadlines are often not met
This could to a result of either taking on too much work or not delegating the work accordingly. Some people may also find themselves delegating to late when the deadline is just around the corner. You will often hear them say "I'm running out of time, I need you to do this". Often this can be attributed to the over-estimation of your abilities and thinking that you can do more than what you really can. The delegates will also be really frustrated with you for giving the task to them at the last minute.

5. People seem to be confused at to what is important, as everything is urgent
You may have come across the leader who says that everything is important, which unfortunately only serves to confuse the delegates. If you don't have clear, distinct levels of importance or if the importance of the task isn't properly stated, you may find yourself asking the delegate if the task is complete, only to find out that they haven't even started on it as they weren't fully aware of the importance. If you don't define the level clearly, then you will find that they assign their own level of importance to the task.

6. People are not taking responsibility of the task that has been delegated to them
There may be times when the task isn't clearly handed over and the delegate is confused as to whether they are responsible for the whole project, or part thereof. Another scenario is that you start off with a section of a project and by the end you dumped with all of it. The scope needs to be clearly stated to avoid this type of confusion as the delegate will get upset when they get held accountable for work they weren't aware of.

7. You give work to people, fully knowing that they won't complete it
This is just setting people up for disaster and is very demotivating for the delegate as they think what is the point in even trying. You should be using delegation as an opportunity to help empower people so they can learn and grow. You can achieve this by giving them challenging tasks which slightly stretch them.

8. You regularly take back authority of the work you delegated
This often occurs when you have either given the work to the wrong people or you haven't delegated clearly. As a result you will find that you delegate the work out, but it always ends up coming back to you.

9. Constantly checking up on the work in a way that frustrates the team members
We have all had an experience with the person who says "Is it done yet?" every five minutes. This serves nothing to the delegate and tends to annoy them. It is often a sign that you haven't provided proper time lines or set up appropriate progress reviews.

If you find yourself doing one or more of these things, it may be useful to follow the Delegation Check list as it helps alleviate most of the problems that are seen here.

As always I would love to hear any comments or suggestions, so just leave them in the section below.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa