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The Worst Reason to Delegate a Task

Deciding what to delegate is the first hurdle - deciding to whom you should delegate is the second. Which leads to the second most common mistake when managers delegate - assigning the task based on who “has time”.

At first glance, it makes sense. After all, if you need something done, the person who isn’t busy has the time to do it. Plus, you don’t want to overwhelm someone who is already busy.

This is wrong because it ignores one of the key tenets of being a manager - putting someone in a position to succeed.

If a manager gives the task to Elise because she has time, but she doesn’t have the capability or experience to do the job well, then all the manager is doing is setting her up to fail. Her failure will probably mean more work for the manager and hurt her confidence (and the manager's confidence in her).

Note: there is a difference between someone not having the capability and someone never having done it before. When we first bought a house, I had never installed a dishwasher before (and I am not very handy), but I had some skills and my wife thought I could do it. I did it (and told my wife I would never do it again). However, if I had never used a screwdriver before or worked with electricity and pipes, it would have been a disaster.

The key is if you need to give it to someone who is already busy, see if  there is something that person can delegate to the less busy person. Shifting work is a necessary skill to have in today’s business world.

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