While delegation is a critical leadership competency, many leaders complain that delegation slows them down: it wastes time, shows disappointing results and causes confusion. These leaders have decided the easiest path is to do the work themselves. We call their delegation process the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.
The Good: Delegation enables, encourages and grows an individual, providing learning and support. The outcome is both successful results and a feeling of success by all parties.
The Bad: A delegation assignment that fails to provide sufficient detail, scope, expectations, to succeed. The receiver feels set up to fail and usually does. Delegation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: the Delegator expects problems and gets them.
The Ugly: The leader dumps work of little value on others. There is no reward or recognition for the work or the effort. Leaders who dump work on others often feel guilty and therefore avoid their direct reports. The recipient of the “work dump” commonly feels angry, used and belittled. As a result, he/she puts little effort into the enterprise. Both parties feel betrayed.
The solution? Take time to set up the right task and assign it to the right person. Match tasks with talent and capability. Know that your ability to delegate is a work in progress. Create a personal action plan that ensures success of both the project and the person.