The hesitation of delegation


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Not a week goes by that a manager, owner, or executive doesn’t tell me that he/she needs to delegate more to the staff. While I’m sure that’s the case, let us never forget that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Most people who need to delegate more talk about it but rarely actually take the action. Why? The default is that they don’t know how. I don’t buy that. There’s very little involved in delegating. The real issue is that they don’t necessarily understand why they’re not already delegating more.

Here are four reasons people hesitate to delegate.

1. They like or need to be in control. Not to go all Dr. Phil on you, but the majority of people who struggle to delegate have trouble letting go. There’s a connection to them between doing and controlling.

I always remind managers that their job title doesn’t change when they delegate. While they might not be able to control the task they’ve delegated, they’re still in control of the overall store or business. There’s a lot of power in letting go.

2. They’re very particular about how things are done. Maybe too particular. Years ago I coached an owner who always cleaned the bathroom herself. She insisted that none of her six employees did it right. Truthfully, if I were one of those employees, I’d make sure to not do it right since I knew the owner would clean it herself. The real issue was that they didn’t do it her way. The staff might not have done it the exact way as the owner, but their way would have also resulted in a clean bathroom.

Managers need to focus on the outcome and let employees find their own ways of doing tasks. It doesn’t mean you can’t teach a person how you do a particular task, but then let go and let the employee discover what works best for him/her. Who knows, he/she might even find a better way of doing it! Let it go.

3. They’re not teaching enough. One big reason managers don’t delegate is because they’re the only one who knows how to do something. It is easier and faster to do something yourself than to teach another person how to do it, but when you’re the one doing all the tasks then it’s not really easier, is it? Taking the time to teach others is like a financial investment. There’s rarely an immediate payoff, but you’ll definitely reap long-term benefits.

4. They choose not to. I think this is biggest reason most people don’t delegate. When I was a manager of a Sharper Image I liked to do the cycle counts. I told everyone it was because I needed them to be accurate, but deep down the truth was that it was something that I could do that kept me off the floor. It was my choice. Of course, I would have been a much more effective leader being out of the floor coaching my people than in the back room counting products, but I hadn’t learned that particular lesson just yet.

You can’t delegate success. As leaders, we need to spend our time on high-payoff activities and delegate those tasks that aren’t as high-payoff. Sure we may like doing those other tasks, but success comes from making the right choices that lead to success.

The more a manager delegates the more time he/she has to lead, coach their team, and work with and learn from the customers. For owners it also means spending more time finding new products and building their customer community.

Remember this: If a store is going to succeed, the manager or owner has to work on what needs to be done, not what he/she wants to do.

As you go through your day, just keeping asking yourself, “Should I be the one doing this? If not, why am I?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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