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Thread: Fear of delegating tasks as a leader

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    Senior Member rokki balbotox's Avatar
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    Fear of delegating tasks as a leader

    This thread isn't about me

    But I'm curious

    What are some reasons for this fear of delegating?

    For example, doing extensive cleaning and other tasks that should be delegated to subordinates. Even per the book, doing things that should be assigned to subordinates

    To be clear I don't disagree with being participative and helping with tasks

    Have you encountered this or experienced it?
    Last edited by rokki balbotox; 08-13-2019 at 02:30 PM.

  2. #2
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    I've been more likely to experience the opposite: leaders who delegate absolutely every single thing to the point that they are effectively overpaid admin assistants. Their boss asks them to do something, they immediately find someone to delegate it to. They go to a meeting and get asked a question, they leave the meeting and find someone who can answer it. They then go to another meeting and repeat that answer. I don't know why these people get paid so much. I literally believe our admin assistant could do their job, for about a quarter of the pay. Anyone can take notes at a meeting, read off their notes to another employee, take notes on that and then read them at another meeting.

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    Seņor member Limes's Avatar
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    If I've done it, it's because I believe in leading by example on the front lines, in the trenches etc. I also want to be sure it's done right (assuming we're in a meritocracy environment where most senior is most experienced and/or skilled)
    I dislike laziness, so it's not a quality I ever want to be at risk of being considered.

    Right now, I have the opposite too, but we're all just milking a big cow in this gig anyway.

    Anything that keeps us from daydreaming about how big of and what type of creature we would need to be in order to successfully rape a polar bear is a good thing in my opinion.
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    Faster. Than. Ever. Sloth's Avatar
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    Is that person inexperienced?

    I used to have trouble delegating tasks the first couple years I had to delegate things.

    It could also have something to do with that person not trusting that their team. They may think their team is senselessly difficult, and the rationale might be "it's a lot faster for me to just sweep this up myself than to deal with the attitude of [X] person." the problem with running your team that way though is that when shit hits the fan and you legitimately can't do everything yourself there's no team dynamic to fall back on. You aren't going to just magically act as a great team in a difficult situation if you've never acted as a team period.

    If this is someone you're working for and you want to help that person break out of that, one thing you could do is to let them know you're trustworthy by being proactive when you notice something needs to be done --- so they know you aren't there to just give them an attitude and collect a check. Eventually they'll realize you can be counted on and will feel more comfortable delegating things to you. If they start delegating things only to you, that can be corrected with something as simple as quick conversation along the lines of "hey, I'm not sure I can take that on with what I already have, but I think [Z] person would be great at that." and badda bing.

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    they have trust issues and/or team is incompetent
    i sneeze like a grandpa.

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    malarkey oxyjen's Avatar
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    They're not a regular boss, they're a cool boss

    who does it all themselves and are secretly dying inside

  7. #7
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starla View Post
    I've been more likely to experience the opposite: leaders who delegate absolutely every single thing to the point that they are effectively overpaid admin assistants. Their boss asks them to do something, they immediately find someone to delegate it to. They go to a meeting and get asked a question, they leave the meeting and find someone who can answer it. They then go to another meeting and repeat that answer. I don't know why these people get paid so much. I literally believe our admin assistant could do their job, for about a quarter of the pay. Anyone can take notes at a meeting, read off their notes to another employee, take notes on that and then read them at another meeting.
    I don't know the person you have in mind, and I'm not as familiar with corporate internal structures as you are, so there may be other factors in play you've left unstated, but this honestly sounds like it could be decent management. My interpretation is that they know their subordinates, know what they can do, what their areas of expertise are, and use that information to get their tasks done. To me, that's what a good manager does: delegates everything that can be delegated by knowing who on their team can get the work done and done well, and acknowledges if they don't know something but also knows who to go to to find out the answer.

    It seems to me that saying it could be done by their superior's admin assistant overlooks that all the work they are doing frees up that admin assistant to do other things. The very nature of delegation is to pass on work from a person who could do it to someone else--especially in the context of failure to delegate.

    In the case you have in mind, do admin assistants have authority to hire or fire? I'm assuming the manager does.
    People think they understand their own mortality, even when that understanding has just changed.

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  8. #8
    Scenario that could cause fear of delegation: Employee shows excellent job skills and is promoted to management of others who do said skills less well, then let go later because the promotion caused them to become obsolete and rusty in the very skills that they were promoted for having in the first place. Then when budget cuts are made or the company restructures or gets bought out, they are the first to get the ax, and because they've been supervising instead of staying on the cutting edge of the thing they used to be good at, they hit the job market with very little confidence and less competence, and with a higher price tag to maintain the standards they grew into while making manager bucks.

    This happens quite a bit.
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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Fear of awkward social interactions. Count me for that one.

    Regarding middle management, it seems that a lot of my boyfriend's engineering work is like this, on both sides. I know that when he delegates work he frequently has to clean it up or go back and instruct the lower level to go back and do it differently, try something else. When he's satisfied he turns around and puts it into a PowerPoint and delivers it up the chain. He has a project manager, a line manager, plus the client.

    It definitely sounds inefficient... But not to the point that you could completely remove one of the pieces with no other changes and it would still function.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sinny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rokki balbotox View Post
    This thread isn't about me

    But I'm curious

    What are some reasons for this fear of delegating?
    Incompetence
    When tyranny becomes law
    Rebellion becomes duty.



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