3 Common Mental Barriers to Delegation
Effective delegation is a valuable skill for any manager. However, for new leaders, delegating tasks can be daunting. Knowing what and when to delegate is a leadership skill that must be learned and developed over time. New leaders may struggle with making the shift from doing to leading, However, the responsibilities of leaders are more complex, requiring time and focus. For leaders to have time to focus on high-impact tasks, they must overcome mental barriers to effective delegation. There are several reasons that managers may struggle with delegation.
Here are three common mindsets that are a barrier to delegating effectively:
Barrier 1: I can do it better myself.
Many leaders fall prey to this mental barrier about delegation. Often, managers are promoted because of the excellent work they have done. They rightfully have confidence in their abilities and experience and may have trouble letting go of the work responsibilities they excelled at in their previous role.
New managers may also fear losing control of a task or work project because they will still bear the ultimate accountability for the outcome. These managers are reluctant to delegate tasks because they don’t trust their employees to produce the desired results.
To overcome this barrier, managers must embrace their new responsibilities and obligations to the employees they lead. Great leaders give their teams opportunities to learn and grow in their roles. Instead of just doing it themselves, managers should help employees develop new skills as part of their professional development.
Barrier 2: It takes too long to explain what I want employees to do.
We all live in a world of urgency, with long to-do lists and constant disruptions. New managers may mistakenly believe it will be faster to jump in and complete a task than to take the time to explain the job to an employee. However, this is not a good long-term strategy.
To overcome this barrier, managers must shift their mindset. Instead of focusing on the short-term inconvenience, they should look at the big picture. Training takes time, but that time is an investment. First, it will grow the skills and abilities of the employee, and then it will free up time for the manager to focus on other things.
Delegation is essential to time management for both the employee and the manager. Delegating work is crucial to time management for the employee and the manager. While employees learn new skills, managers can keep monitoring their progress but also trust that their team will do good work. It may feel time-consuming up front, but letting go of responsibility for these tasks frees up a manager’s time for more important work.
Barrier 3: I feel guilty giving my team more work.
New managers can sometimes feel guilty giving more work to their team. If a manager was recently promoted, it might feel strange to them not to roll up their sleeves and get to work with their team as they did in their previous role. Or, they might know that their employees’ to-do lists are already long and worry about adding to their workload.
To overcome this barrier, managers should work on improving their delegation skills. Delegation isn’t about burdening others with your workload. It is about allocating work to the most appropriate level. New managers can benefit from involving their teams in reviewing roles and responsibilities to ensure they feel empowered and supported.
Learning to delegate effectively takes some practice, and there may be some discomfort along the way. However, new managers should practice self-compassion and understand that learning to overcome mental barriers to delegation will take effort and intention as they grow in their management skills.