The power of delegation (and why it’s so hard to hand over)

Written by Caroline Roberts. Additional reporting by Emma Molloy Monday 15 January 2024
It’s common for less experienced managers to take on too much. It compromises work quality, contributes to burnout and prevents other team members from developing their skills. Why do many of us find delegating difficult? And how can we get better at it?
Post-its arranged in a triangle with arrows pointing from the person at the top to the people below

Delegating was something Lewis Broughton CMgr MCMI struggled with in the early years of his management career. As a self-described perfectionist, relinquishing control was a huge challenge. He tended to micromanage tasks, but that had a detrimental effect; it hindered his team’s creativity and left them demotivated.

Lewis, now internal communications and engagement manager at Clarion Housing Group, recalls one work update meeting where the problem became very apparent. “We realised there wasn’t anything to update me on as I already knew everything that was happening,” he says.

A colleague called Lewis out on his behaviour, explaining that they couldn’t deliver on a task effectively as he was too involved. “I realised I couldn’t disagree with that feedback and that I needed to take a step back,” says Lewis.

What stops us from delegating?

Perfectionism is one of several psychological barriers that can prevent junior managers from delegating, says business psychologist Paul Hannam. “They may believe they are the only ones who can complete a task perfectly and they worry that others won’t perform as well or make mistakes.”

Want to learn more about successful delegation?


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