Schedule a 27-minute call

What Do I Do When Delegation Goes Awry?

delegation Oct 27, 2021

I’ve learned some things since I started delegating as a first-time manager. I’ve had some great “wins” and some “learned that from that mistake” kind of moments. My favorite lesson is not to give up when delegation go awry, because most of the time it’s a simple fix to get it back on track.

If you’re just starting out or you’ve been delegating a while, you are bound to have those times when you wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea to delegate. You thought it was all going so well. Then, you start to see concerning signs. The signs of delegation gone awry:

  • People still come to you with questions on what to do.
  • Tasks aren’t completed on time or as expected.
  • You end up still doing too much of the work.
  • Energy in the work fizzles 
  • Expanding to new or existing skills goes on hold as the default patterns kick in

 Either you end up too involved or the task doesn’t move forward as planned. If you are the one pushing it forward or it stalls out if you are not involved, then you have a “delegation gone awry” situation and it’s time to get out your troubleshooting guide and find out what to do about it.

Delegation Troubleshooting Guide

People STILL come to YOU

  • Check your communication strategy with the whole team and re-communicate if needed. Reminders are helpful early on.
  • Verify that you have given clear instruction so that your team member feels confident answering questions.
  • Make sure you have given appropriate decision-making authority away, so you aren’t the bottleneck.

Tasks aren’t completed

  • Check in to be sure your team member has the training and skills they need and provide tips and tricks if needed.
  • Verify that you have given clear instruction so that your team member knows what you expect of them.
  • Make sure you initiate those check-in meetings in the early stages to clarify what might have been missed in the planning.

You STILL do too much of the work

  • Check in to be sure that you have given the necessary authority, resources and direction - don’t micromanage.
  • Verify the task you gave away isn’t bigger than you expected. Make adjustments, if possible, rather than taking it back on
  • Make sure you are aware of your own “triggers” that pull you back in and have a mentor or coach hold you accountable.

Learning and energy fizzles

  • Check in on how they feel about the new task. Sometimes new things are not what we expect, and adjust to re-energize.
  • Verify that the task you assigned still aligns well with development goals and ask them what they are learning .
  • Make sure you say thank you - a lot - and affirm what you see them doing and why you picked them to do the task.

While there are times it is an employee skill or training issue that derails delegation, more often the root cause of “delegation gone awry” is our responsibility. That’s good news! If it’s on us then, we can do the fixes needed to get it back on track.

Next Steps

If you notice something is “off”, start troubleshooting right away. Don’t wait to see how it “shakes out” and if your team member will succeed or not. Give them the best chance for success by keeping these three things in mind:

  1. Respond quickly. It’s easier to pivot early. The longer it gets off track the harder it is to pull it back in.
  2. Track early progress. Check in frequently in the beginning and then back off quickly when you know they are on track and the task is unfolding as you expected -- not just on paper, but in real time.
  3. Monitor yourself. If you are having a hard time giving the task away, step back and reflect. Talk with a mentor, friend, co-worker or coach to find the sweet spot of your involvement. between “stay out of the details'' and “washing your hands” of it. At the end of the day you are still responsible

Get your feet wet and give delegation a try. Take a look at the whole series of blogs to help you get started right HERE. Set up a FREE 30 minute strategy session and I will walk you through your first delegation diagnostic and troubleshooting guide!

Stay Connected

Get resources, motivation, and leadership support 
delivered straight to your inbox.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.