Why Do Business Leaders Find It So Hard to Delegate?

At one point or another, business owners and leaders grapple with the issue of delegating tasks to others. For those who started out as entrepreneurs, it can be difficult letting go of the notion that “I’m the only one who knows how to get this done!” Others feel that granting authority to someone else in the organization in some way threatens their own authority.

As a result, inefficiencies can creep in. Routine (but significant) tasks can get overlooked. Key responsibilities aren’t addressed. Important work goes uncompleted. As a result, stress levels accumulate, challenging even the most self-confident leader to wonder if he or she is up to the task of leadership.  

That’s why delegation is such a crucial skill for leaders to acquire. But before mastering the “art of delegation,” it’s important to acknowledge why you might be resisting it.   DSC5927

In addition to the usual reason listed above, other justifications for not delegating include the desire to get full credit for work completed; a reluctance to trust anyone else with a key responsibility; or simply not understanding how the process of delegation works.   

Whatever the reason, the benefits of delegation are crystal clear: 

·         A well-earned respite from overwork

·         More time to focus on long-range strategy, rather than “putting out fires” during day-to-day operations

·         Opportunities for your team to develop new confidence and skills 

To get the ball rolling on delegation, first understand your specific needs. A key starting point is “tracking your time—all of your time” notes The Balance Small Business. You might “be surprised to see where your time is going and what qualifies as your biggest time drains.” Understanding this can lead to more effective delegation of tasks. 

Other actionable tips to become better at delegating: 

Match the task with the right person. Do you know who might best assume responsibility for a key job within the organization? There may already be an individual employee you’ve had your eye on, whom you can see stepping up to the challenge with enthusiasm. If not, speak to the appropriate department head about identifying that individual and making certain you’ve got the right person for the job. 

Define your expectations. Prior to delegating a task, be sure team members clearly understand the scope of the responsibility entrusted to them. Provide all the relevant information needed to handle the task, as well as whatever resources will enable a team member to achieve the objective. Otherwise, delegation becomes an empty and non-productive exercise. 

Acknowledge that mistakes will happen. If you’re afraid someone else might bungle the delegated task, you’ll never clear your schedule for more important matters. Mistakes will happen, but that’s all part of the delegation experience, and can provide valuable learning opportunities for the future. 

Avoid taking over after delegating a task. It’s tempting to let “upward delegation” creep in, notes Business2Community. “If someone on your team faces an obstacle in his or her work, don’t allow that person to shift responsibility or decision-making back to you.” Instead, challenge the individual to move forward “by asking thoughtful questions rather than simply providing answers.” 

As noted, effective delegation helps empower employees and groom them for potential leadership roles. In the hardwood lumber business, we all need strong leaders to manage the sawmills, lumber yards, lumber buyers, the sales team and other departments. One person can’t do it all. Delegation builds stronger teams, which can lead to higher productivity and more successful employee retention. 

In other words, everyone wins!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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