The 4 Don’ts of Delegating

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Delegating is a skill set all leaders must master. However, if done improperly it can lead to a massive sore spot with your teammates. Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of the most common don’ts of delegating.

1. Delegating Only the Crap

Don’t just delegate your crappy stuff and hang onto all the fun, interesting, and rewarding projects. Sure, the crap is the best stuff to get off your desk, but if you keep all the fun assignments, then there’s no fun in working with you! Delegate fun and interesting projects too, or your teammates will begin to avoid serving you.

2. Delegating Unrealistic Deadlines

You’ve known about this project for a while, but you couldn’t get to it, so finally you decide to delegate it. You’re relieved, but the new project owner is immediately frustrated, behind, and feeling under the gun. Give your teammates the courtesy of allowing them to do their best without leaving them in a lurch by delegating projects in a reasonable timeframe.

3. Delegating Based on Position/Title

I’ve worked inside some very title-driven organizations where project teams were built upon titles rather than strengths. Directors and managers were handling projects when the front-line workers had the most knowledge on the subject. Delegate the project to the person who has the most knowledge or the most experience or the most potential and hunger to do a good job.

4. Delegating…Then Taking It Back

This is probably the most common – and the most frustrating – type of delegating among employees. You finally relent and delegate a project, then you take it back. Or, you delegate a project but constantly look over the person’s shoulder and tell them how to do every element of it. Or, even worse! You delegate a project, then when your teammate turns it in to you, you completely redo it. Delegating, then taking it back, frustrates your teammates and leads to a “Why bother?” attitude.

If you’re concerned about how the project will turn out, establish check-in points with your teammate of when you’ll meet to discuss the project’s progress. Then, you can provide ongoing coaching as things progress without micro-managing or completely taking over.

Of course, none of us would ever actually do any of these things, but we know other people who do them, right? For more reading on the subject, check out 5 Ways to Let Go and Let Your Team Grow.

What delegating don’ts would you add to this list?

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