What’s Holding You Back from Delegating Effectively? (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)

Training Courses

What’s Holding You Back from Delegating Effectively? (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)

Delegation is a crucial skill for any successful leader or manager. It involves assigning tasks and responsibilities to others, empowering them to make decisions and take ownership. However, many managers struggle with delegating effectively, which can lead to overwhelm, burnout, and a lack of trust within their team.

So what’s holding you back from delegating effectively? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a lack of trust in your team or a desire to control everything. In fact, the main barriers to effective delegation are often internal, and with the right approach and mindset, they can be easily overcome.

In this article, we’ll explore the common roadblocks to delegating effectively and provide tips on how to overcome them.

Fear of Losing Control


by Mathurin NAPOLY / matnapo (https://unsplash.com/@matnapo)

Understanding the Fear

One of the most common reasons managers struggle with delegation is a fear of losing control. They may worry that by passing tasks to others, their own role becomes less significant and their authority might be undermined. This fear can be paralyzing, preventing managers from sharing responsibilities and growing their team’s capabilities.

The Importance of Trust in Delegation

However, this fear is often unfounded. Delegation, when done correctly, doesn’t erode control; it enhances it. By distributing tasks, managers can actually gain a clearer oversight of their team’s operations, identifying strengths and areas for improvement. It also allows them to allocate their time more effectively to oversee critical strategic tasks.

Changing Your Mindset

The key to overcoming this fear is to shift your mindset from “losing control” to “gaining control.” A change in perspective is crucial. Managers should remind themselves that effective delegation is a strategy for team empowerment that ultimately leads to greater control over outcomes. Trusting your team to handle delegated tasks can also build their confidence and loyalty.

Lack of Trust in Your Team


by lauren lulu taylor (https://unsplash.com/@laurenlulutaylor)

The Pitfalls of Micromanagement

Another common barrier to effective delegation is a lack of trust in your team. This can manifest in different ways, such as micromanaging, not delegating important tasks, or not providing enough support and guidance. When managers fall into the micromanagement trap, they not only stifle their team’s initiative but also add to their own workload unnecessarily.

Building Trust Through Incremental Delegation

Trust is crucial for effective delegation. To build trust, managers should start by delegating smaller, low-risk tasks and gradually increase the responsibility as team members demonstrate their capabilities. This approach allows managers to assess each team member’s reliability and provides team members with the opportunity to earn their manager’s trust.

The Role of Communication in Trust

Additionally, clear and consistent communication is vital in fostering trust. Managers should articulate their expectations, be open to questions, and provide constructive feedback. By maintaining an open dialogue, managers can quickly address any issues and reinforce their confidence in their team’s abilities.



by antonella brugnola (https://unsplash.com/@ziaantonella)

Recognizing Perfectionist Tendencies

Perfectionism can also be a major roadblock to effective delegation. Managers who are perfectionists might hesitate to delegate because they believe that no one else can achieve the same high standards they set for themselves. This leads to an unsustainable workload and creates a bottleneck in workflow.

The Downside of Perfectionism

This mindset can be detrimental not only to the manager’s own well-being but also to the team’s growth. By hoarding tasks, managers deprive their team members of development opportunities and can inadvertently signal a lack of confidence in their abilities.

Embracing Imperfection and Growth

To overcome perfectionism, managers should acknowledge that everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses. Delegating tasks strategically can enable team members to excel in areas where they are strong and the manager is less so. Embracing different approaches and perspectives can lead to innovation and improvement within the team.

Lack of Delegation Skills

Delegation skills

by Jose P. Ortiz (https://unsplash.com/@joseportiz)

The Skill Set for Effective Delegation

Delegation is not a natural skill for everyone; it must be learned and honed. Many managers find it challenging because they have not been trained in the core principles of effective delegation. Without a clear understanding of how to delegate, managers may avoid it altogether or execute it poorly.

Learning and Training Opportunities

To build delegation skills, managers should seek out learning opportunities. Workshops, seminars, and mentorship can provide valuable insights into successful delegation strategies. Managers should not hesitate to ask for help or advice from colleagues who excel in delegation.

Practicing Delegation

As with any skill, practice is essential. Managers should look for opportunities to delegate, starting with small tasks and progressively taking on more complex delegations. Regularly reflecting on what works and what doesn’t can lead to continuous improvement in delegation abilities.

Feeling Overwhelmed


by Nubelson Fernandes (https://unsplash.com/@nublson)

The Impact of Overload

Often, managers find themselves with a heavy workload that seems insurmountable. The pressure of deadlines and the desire to maintain high standards can make delegation seem like an added complication rather than a solution.

Prioritizing and Identifying Delegable Tasks

To combat this, managers must learn to prioritize effectively. Not all tasks require a manager’s expertise; some can be handled competently by other team members. Identifying these tasks and delegating them can relieve pressure and improve efficiency.

Allocating Time for Delegation

Moreover, managers should consciously make time for the process of delegation. This might involve scheduling regular check-ins or setting specific blocks of time dedicated to discussing delegated tasks with team members. By integrating delegation into the daily routine, it becomes a natural part of workflow management.

Lack of Clarity


by Bernd 📷 Dittrich (https://unsplash.com/@hdbernd)

The Consequences of Vague Instructions

Without clear guidance and well-defined expectations, even the most competent team member might struggle to complete a task effectively. Vagueness can lead to misinterpretation, errors, and frustration, all of which undermine the benefits of delegation.

Providing Clear Directions

To ensure clarity, managers should take the time to articulate their vision for a task. This includes outlining the objectives, providing detailed instructions, setting measurable standards for success, and establishing a timeline. Clarity from the outset can save time and prevent misunderstandings later on.

The Importance of Availability for Questions

Maintaining availability for follow-up questions is also crucial. Managers should encourage their team to seek clarification when needed, reinforcing the message that asking questions is a positive, not a negative, behavior.

Not Providing Feedback


by Patrick Tomasso (https://unsplash.com/@impatrickt)

Feedback as a Tool for Growth

The delegation process doesn’t end when a task is completed. Feedback is a critical component that helps team members learn and improve. Without feedback, team members may feel uncertain about their performance and miss opportunities for professional development.

Celebrating Successes

Positive reinforcement can go a long way. Managers should acknowledge and celebrate when tasks are done well, which can boost morale and motivate team members. Public recognition can also inspire others to strive for excellence.

Constructive Criticism and Continuous Improvement

When tasks fall short of expectations, constructive criticism is necessary. It should be provided in a way that focuses on the task and behavior, not the individual, and suggests actionable steps for improvement. Managers should also be receptive to feedback on their own delegation methods, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.


Effective delegation is a crucial skill for any manager or leader, but it’s not always easy to do. By identifying and overcoming the barriers to delegation, managers can empower their team members, increase their control, and achieve better results for their team. Remember to shift your mindset, build trust, and continuously improve your delegation skills. With practice and the right approach, you can become a master at delegating effectively.