Mistakes in Delegation

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 22, 2007

Many mistakes in delegation can be tracked back to a small-business owner’s own fears or desires. If, after delegating a task, you spend more time checking in and giving advice or direction to your employees than you would like, perhaps it’s time for a hard look in the mirror. Assuming your employees are capable and motivated, what holds you back from letting them work more independently?

Here are some questions for small-business owners who have difficulty delegating. Try answering them honestly. You might learn something surprising.

1. Do you feel that you know the best way to do the task you have delegated?

2. On some level, are you threatened by your employees’ success?

3. Are you uncomfortable relinquishing control to someone else, no matter how competent?

4. Are you open to new ways of reaching the outcome you would like?

5. Do you desire credit for the outcome of the task you have delegated, but you are afraid you won’t be able to take it without hovering?

6. Do you fear that the level of your own engagement in everything important determines your value to the business?

7. Is there some other fear or desire at work that is keeping you from delegating effectively?

Effective delegation is about asking great questions, listening hard, learning from your employees, and guiding and inspiring them. Examining your own fears and desires could be a key to improving these skills.

David Peck
Founder
Leadership Unleashed
San Francisco

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