Why We Struggle to Delegate

As a leader, we sometimes struggle to delegate and often fail to get results through people which limits you. You will often find that people have their reasons for this, as they might say "I think that I can do a better job" or "I am better than other people". However, leaders often tend to over-estimate their abilities and have a skewed perception of what they are actually capable of. You may even be surprised the the people you delegate the task to, actually do a better job than you.

Below we will go through some various factors in struggling with delegation and you can see if any of these apply to you.

Reasons Why We Struggle to Delegate

  1. Perfectionism
    Being a cool blue I often tend to struggle with this aspect, as I am a perfectionist and sometimes believe that nobody can do a job as good as I. However, like I have mentioned in a previous post, if someone can do a job 80% as well as you, let them do it as they will learn and grow. Remember, there was once a time where you had to learn and grow as well.

  2. Inflexibility
    You may find that sometimes you are obsessed with having the task delivered in a specific way, and if it isn't, then it is of a poor quality. This sort of inflexibility is often seen in the fiery red/cool blue types of people. They tend to want the task to be done quickly, so they give the details in "red mode" and then when they review the tasks they do so in their analytical "blue mode".
    As a rule of thumb, always try to give the delegate the task in the mode that you will be reviewing it. In doing this, you will alleviate the frustration from the delegatee side, as they know what to expect.
    It is important to remember that just because someone doesn't do something your way, doesn't mean it is wrong. You must allow people to be explore and learn, and in time they will also achieve great results. So be flexible to the approaches that other people take.

  3. Unwillingness to Train Others
    Some people are bad coaches, or they may not be patient enough to train other people. These types of leaders often land up doing the work themselves as they see it as a quicker way to get the work done. This can be a bit short sighted as in the long run you tend to get bogged down and often struggle to cope.

  4. Control Freak Tendencies
    Some people when they are under pressure they tend to control the tasks by doing it themselves, which results in them becoming control freaks. It may stem from fear of your manager and you trying show them your worth. Unfortunately, no one in the team learns and grows.

  5. Past Experiences
    A person may also be averse to delegation because they got burnt from past experiences. They may then make an internal vow, such as, "From now on, I will always do it myself" or "I can't trust anyone around here". Over time these thought may become entrenched in their psyche and refuse to relinquish control.

  6. Poor Delegation Skills
    Sometimes, you will find that leaders are very good at implementing as they have come from a strong technical background and thus have a tendency to "just get it done". Even when they try to delegate they often don't seem to be successful, so in scenarios like this it is useful to refer to the Delegation Check list

  7. Incorrect Assumptions
    Often we don't actually know what our team members are capable of and we underestimate their abilities, or we think that they have to much work on their plate at the moment to give them more work. Usually, this isn't the case and people do like being challenged to grow and learn. You may even find that some people even love the tasks that you loathe doing. This is why it is good to keep in touch & communicate with your team.

If you were reading this and saying, "Yip, that is me!", then set yourself a goal and to change your behaviours, for both yourself and your team.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa