Good Reasons Not To Delegate

Question: I’ve read many experts say that managers must delegate. I’ve also read that managers that don’t delegate won’t last long. But aren’t there things you shouldn’t delegate?

Absolutely. Some things are just too important to hand off. Are you handing off responsibilities that should stay with you? Learn what not to delegate.

High-level Decision Making

Indra Nooyi, the dynamic CEO of PepsiCo is known for making bold moves and big decisions. Running a company with close to 300,000 employees and $60 billion in revenue, you can bet she does a lot of delegating. But the big decisions are hers to make and to stand up for. In 2011 she chose to skip the big expensive Superbowl ad in favor of a more community-based Internet campaign. It was a gamble that only a CEO could make.

High-level decisions that impact the company, team or department need to be made by the person in charge. Getting feedback from your peers or your team might be helpful, but you own the outcome. If that decision goes wrong, it’s up to you to take responsibility for it. You may not be president of a company, but high-level decisions can also include major changes to a new product, altering your goals, or reorganizing your team.

Ill-defined Projects

You’ve just returned from an executive planning meeting with a new list of projects that need to start right away. There’s enough new work to keep your team busy for the next six months. You already have more than enough work on your plate, and you’re eager to find owners for the new projects. Are you ready to start delegating? Not yet. Before you assign a new project, make sure it’s clearly defined. Giving a half-baked idea to a team member slows everyone down.

What do I mean by well-defined? Give your project the SMART test. Is the project Specific, Measurable, Agreed on, Realistic, and Time-bound? Take some time to write down how the project meets each of these guidelines. When it does, you’re ready to let someone else take over. You may think this is a waste of valuable time, but it will save you time in the future and will reduce the risk of failure.

Personnel Matters

The people who work for you are your responsibility. You write and deliver their performance reviews. If someone needs to be reprimanded, do it yourself. If someone deserves to be rewarded or thanked, that comes from you too. If there is a dispute between team members or a potential legal issue, you need to step in and resolve it directly.

You should also make most hiring decisions, especially if you’re hiring a manager or a team lead. You’ll be relying heavily on these people, and you need to make sure they’re a good fit. A common way to do this is to have several people on your team interview a candidate. If they all agree the person should be hired, you should do a final interview to see if they’re a fit for you. You should be the only one to talk about salary, title, and start date with the candidate.

A strong leader understands the risks and rewards of delegating well. When you delegate, you give people power. You help them learn and grow. And knowing what not to delegate will keep your team focused and on track.

This is Lisa B. Marshall.  Passionate about communication; your success is my business.

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