I am surrounded by people who have a terrible time delegating tasks to other people. Sometimes, the person doesn’t want to delegate because they are a control freak. Occasionally, the person is resistant to delegate because they are haughty and assume no one can do something as well as they can. Some people view delegating as making another person do some of their crap work, and they are too nice to do this to a colleague. I’ve even seen people refuse to delegate because they were too shy to ask another person for help.
The psychology of delegating is endlessly fascinating to me!
To be honest, I have struggled with delegating, but I’m much better at it now. I was fortunate enough to have a manager who was candid with me and tell me that if I didn’t learn how to delegate, I would not be able to advance in my career. At the time, these words were painful to hear. It stung, in fact. But looking back, I can see that the advice was a blessing in disguise. I was in denial that my control freak habits were doing me harm.
If you’re having trouble delegating, here are some things to think about. First, I’ve listed the typical reasons people don’t like to delegate. And then, I outline some new, positive ways to think about delegating.
Arguments Against Delegating:
- You’ve worked on a project since its inception. You know each, complex facet like the back of your hand. When it comes time to solving problems, you have pretty much seen it all and know every twist and turn that can happen.
- You don’t trust the folks you’re delegating to. They may be rock stars in one area of their work, but you’re just not sure they can handle something this difficult.
- Training a new person to get up to speed takes a lot of time. It’s easier for you to do it yourself.
- No one can do as good a job as you can.
- No one cares as much as you do. To others, this project is a way pass the time. To you, it’s your heart and soul.
- You fear that if you let go of a particular task, your worthiness and value may diminish. After all, you have created a little niche for yourself, and people know you’re the expert in this area.
- Your customers trust you to help them. They will be upset if they have to deal with someone new.
- You’re an analytic or introvert and having to explain things to a newbie is exhausting and irritating.
- You hate change.
- You don’t want to “impose” on anyone.
- You have no idea what new assignment your manager has in store for you. You’ll probably hate it.
Arguments For Delegating:
- If you’re completely honest with yourself, you realize you’re burnt out and it could be rejuvenating to let go of a particular task.
- When you delegate, you give someone else a chance to step up to the plate and own something. You let others grow and broaden their horizons.
- By having to explain your process to someone new, you get the opportunity to receive feedback on how you could streamline things and improve. You may even be introduced to a solution you had no idea existed or was available.
- You suddenly have time to advance your skills in a different area.
- When you delegate, you are able to form new relationships. You get to meet other people and be exposed to their ideas. Delegating is an opportunity to get out of your own head space.
- You become a team player when you delegate. It’s no longer you, in a cubicle, all by yourself. You’re now part of a team.
- You are exposed to the creativity of other people. You’re able to watch how they approach and solve an old problem.
- It’s an opportunity for you to discover new things you care about (or, what you don’t care about and have no interest in).
- If you’re a control freak, delegating forces you to learn how to give up control.
- When the person you delegate to screws things up, you get to see that it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a bump in the road; things can be fixed.
- Without being completely aware of it, you may have grown to hate a particular task. By delegating it to a different person, you free up some of your psychic energy for new and positive things.
I’m not going to lie. Delegating can be painful. But a lot of the pain may be imaginary and self-inflected. It is possible to delegate and have a win-win outcome. Think positive, people! And go delegate. 🙂