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From the author of Delegation Is an Investment

Delegation Is an Investment

Delegation can be hard. Many managers embrace the idea of delegating stuff to their workers, but then they fall into the micromanagement trap.2 Insufficient delegation leads to reduced competence, which leads to an increased number of problems, which causes the managers to delegate even less… (Figure 6).

Figure 6 The micromanagement trap

The my-team-is-not-ready-for-authority idea is one of the toughest obstacles to overcome when distributing control in organizations. It is a classical chicken-and-egg situation. Managers don’t relinquish control until team members are fully ready, but team members cannot become fully ready until they get at least some control over their work.

As a manager, you must understand that delegation of authority should be seen as an investment.3 It may take a while to get a return on your investment. In the meantime, inexperienced team members will cost you time, energy, money, and possibly some frustration (see Figure 7).

Figure 7 Delegation as an investment

That’s why delegation of authority should be set at a level that is low enough to build competence in people, but not so low that things easily get out of control. It’s a bit like driving your car as fast as it is allowed and still safe. You push the gas pedal down and keep it right at the point where you can still respond safely to other road users, and police inquiries. After all, you are aiming for distributed control, not for a situation that is out of control.

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