Delegation - What is the role of a Manager?

Frequently, many managers find themselves firefighting, struggling to get the job done. They are unable to devote sufficient time to long-term planning, creating a company or departmental vision, surveying alternatives, reviewing the competition, and developing new products. Most importantly, they are unable to devote enough time to developing their people.

Some managers are reluctant to delegate or entrust tasks because they fear someone else will do a better job and this could lose them credibility. Managers that do not delegate tend to stock pile their knowledge as a form of justification of their position and importance. They are poor at sharing skills as they have a need to feel indispensible. It is important to be aware that being successful does not mean having to be the best at everything but knowing when to involve the right peoples' skills and knowledge.

Telling or dictating can be perceived as the quick and easy solution. It can give the manager a feeling of being in control. This is however, a misleading notion. The manager's style may upset and de-motivate his staff but they don't have the nerve to show it or offer feedback. The outcome is that they are compliant in his presence but may behave with resentment and poor performance when his back is turned. He is anything but in control!

There is another problem when managers tell or dictate and that is one of 'recall'. Simply, we do not remember very well something we are told or do not experience firsthand. How often have you been a passenger in a car and not been able to recall the route when asked, simply because you were not actively involved in the options and decisions taken?

The manager has to repeatedly provide instructions simply because the employee has not been involved in identifying options, potential obstacles and the selection of the most appropriate course of action. This is a vicious circle that needs to be replaced if productivity and motivation is to be achieved.

Delegation should not be considered as avoiding responsibility by the manager but as giving a task the time and effort it deserves. Managers that adopt a coaching style know that entrusting clearly defined tasks to employees helps to build, not only skill levels but also motivation, commitment and pride. Having the responsibility to deliver a task with the correct and fitting level of support engenders a real sense of purpose in the person or team nominated to deliver. It is important to remember however, that delegation is not abdication; it is the managers' responsibility to check periodically that all is well and to provide support as appropriate.

Delegation demonstrates to employees that the manager trusts and values the others abilities and helps build confidence and strengthens teams. It is important to establish clearly at the outset what is needed from the person or team, then step back and allow them to get with it.

It is an undeniable fact that growing people is enlightened self interest rather than some idealism that offers little added value. Empowering and enabling employees to take on interesting and challenging tasks not only ensures the manager can get on with his more strategic function but promotes job satisfaction and with that commitment and loyalty. This helps ensure that the skills base is maintained and developed reducing the exposure to the company of losing its life blood - committed, knowledgeable and skilled employees.

If a manager delegates using the principles of coaching, he will get the job done to a higher standard and develop his people simultaneously, that is the role we want managers to fulfill.


I built up and sold my successful business and have genuine hands-on experience of running a business and the challenges that entails. I have been responsible for creating and implementing winning business strategies and the development of high performance sales cultures. My direct and holistic approach to business enables me to get to the core of the issue and to...

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