Why is it so difficult to delegate?

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Why is delegation so difficult? Whether you are someone who leads others, an entrepreneur who is at that stage where they need to bring on help, or heck, you just need someone to take on some of the chores at home…we all mentally understand that delegating will relieve stress and pressure. We intellectually understand that delegation is needed, yet when it comes down to putting it into action…we falter.

So why is it so difficult for many of us to give over? I believe it comes down to two things, our ego and trust. When you are struggling at work and your boss says, “just delegate more” we somehow interpret that as we are relinquishing control or that we can’t “cut it”. Even if we understand that it will help, our ego’s stop us every time.

Here are the most common lies we tell ourselves to feed the ego:

“They can’t do as well as I can.”

“It’s easier or faster if I do it myself.”

“There’s no one who can do this work.”

The easier or faster part I get, because delegating does take some preparation. You do need to plan and put processes in place. Yes, it might be slower or take more time AT FIRST, but once that is complete you can let go and move on to the areas that really require your focus. Putting the time in upfront gives you the gains in the long run that you need.

However, the other two I’m not so sure about. Usually, items that are delegated are technical or process in nature. People can be trained. If the delegation involves building or maintaining relationships, well you can simply give them a background on the individual and make recommendations on how you would work with them. But in the end, the person will build their own relationship so it works for them. Not everyone is the same, which is good!

You never know, the other person’s approach might bring out new opportunities or a stronger relationship than you would have ever accomplished. Yes, it will be different but you can’t assume it will be worse.

Trust is another large factor in why we don’t delegate. We simply don’t have faith that people will do the work to at least a minimum standard. Putting processes in place will help alleviate that problem. There is nothing better for the person you are delegating to knowing exactly what needs to be done. Yes, they add their flair but giving them a starting point should remove the fear of not meeting the minimum standard.

Past that, you have to make the decision to trust and to build trust. When you delegate, that is not abdication. You must stay involved in some way until you are sure they are on their way. Once the process is built, you teach, you evaluate then you assess how they are doing or if the process is even accurate.

Sometimes, another point of view brings out major gaps!

If the delegation is relationship-based, that’s even more of a reason to not just toss it over and hope for the best. You must stay involved to some degree to ensure everyone is working well, that there aren’t any miscommunications, that needs are being met. Even if they are doing really well, better than you thought, your involvement and giving them a pat on the back will do wonders for the transition and the self-esteem for your team members.

That’s being a solid delegator.

Taking the time to check-in and make sure the handover is going well is much easier than having things go off track, having relationships explode and you ending up taking everything back over.

Lastly, I want you to take some time and think about yourself and your growth. How can you grow or grow your department or business if you are focused on tasks that can be done by others? You must take a step back and ask yourself, “should I be doing this?”.

Of course, you can do it, but should you? I don’t mean is it beneath you, I mean should your focus be elsewhere? Is it a better use of your wage and expertise and will you add more value to the company or department if you focused on something different? Say, reviewing or building that strategy to handle the changes coming your way?

You also can’t personally grow if you are stuck in the rote. You must make way for challenging yourself and in order to do that you need the time to do it.

Delegating properly will provide you the success that is necessary so you can focus on what you should be doing.