Home / Communications / Why delegation doesn’t work every time

Why delegation doesn’t work every time

 headshot2013I was recently invited by a Hospital Trust to lay on a delegation skills training programme for six young managers.    As is often the problem the course was selected and promoted on the intranet for all or any to choose.  There was no identification of learning needs and no recommendation by senior staff.  All the volunteers for the course  simply thought it sounded like it might improve their relationship with their less than responsive staff.

It became clear very early on that what was really required was help in managing sometimes difficult team members who did not do their share of the work and who undermined the efforts of others.  Hardly the right people to be offered the chance to do something new and stretching.


Delegation is very different from allocation.  A key part of a manager’s role is to allocate tasks and ensure they are completed in the way that is set.  The tasks are those that the individual has agreed to by signing their job description and they know that they should be completing them to the best of their ability.

Delegation is when the manager selects one of their own activities and provides learning and support to the individual to enable them to complete the work in the way they think best.  To delegate the manager must give the responsibility and the authority to the individual to carry out the work whilst offering access to support as its required.  However  if it all goes wrong, the manager is still accountable and must take the rap. 

Being able to delegate brings many benefits: highly skilled team members; time saved to carry out more important tasks; cover in an emergency; a team who have a better understanding of the organisation’s objectives.   And for the individual?  Well they gain the chance to learn new skills and experience the effect of making their own decisions, which will not only help with their career progression but stretch and challenge their thinking. 

Delegation takes time and preparation.  You need to be clear why you are delegating and explain that to your delegate.  You need to ensure they have access to the resources and people they need.  You must make sure they are comfortable with the idea and provide them with training as required.  Agree a deadline for completion but also dates for meetings and catch up two – way conversations.  Look for a task that will reward the delegate not just lumber them with something boring and/or unpleasant.   Find tasks that will give the individual transferable skills and for every success celebrate the achievement.

So before you decide to hand out a task to your team members check if its allocation or delegation that you are after.  Is the task, you are sharing, theirs or yours?

front-cover-delegating-400x281  Want to know more?  This Useful Guide by Susan Kaer is for you if you would like to learn how to delegate effectively or if you know how to delegate effectively but you have difficulty “letting go”.

What the Useful Guide includes …

  • access to the downloadable toolkit which contains the benefits planner, the delegation planner, the 7 step checklist and the urgency versus importance tool
  • what is delegation?
  • benefits of delegation
  • barriers to delegation
  • how to decide what to delegate
  • how to decide whom to delegate to
  • the 7 step approach to effective delegation.

This is a weekly blog published every Tuesday and covers all aspects of communication.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

ViperProof by ViperChill