Let’s face it: some people hate to delegate and simply don’t trust others to get the work done. Rather than try to skip over these objections and teach people how to delegate, this activity acknowledges these fears and downsides of delegation and balances them against the vast benefits of delegation – to the delegator, the delegate AND the organization.
Objective: This group activity is a great way to uncover people’s fears about delegating while bringing to light its significant benefits. By seeing and discussing the pluses and minuses of delegation, participants open up to learning the right way to delegate (so they avoid the pitfalls).
1) Divide learners into two groups. Explain that each group will have a different assignment. Tell the learners that they need to reflect on their own delegation experiences in this activity. Ask them to identify one person in the group who will take notes and record the group’s comments.
2) Read these instructions to Group 1: “Please list the positive aspects of delegation—why it is important to you personally, the people you supervise, and to your organization. Be sure to look for benefits that can come from the delegation process.”
Read these instructions to Group 2: “Please list the negative aspects of delegation—why people are uncomfortable with delegating and being delegated to, potential risks and impacts for you and the organization, why results are sometimes unsuccessful, and the consequences of NOT delegating and trying to do it all yourself.”
3) Create a flipchart page that looks like this. (If you want, provide a few sample statements to get them started.)
Positive Aspects/Benefits of Delegation
You get more out of the people you hire.
Negative Aspects/Reasons for Disliking Delegation
It’s easier to do it myself.
4) Give the groups 10 minutes to complete their discussion. Have each group’s reporter come to the flipchart and list the aspects they identified.
5) Here are some of the answers you might see:
Positive Aspects of Delegation
• Employees and managers discover skills they were not aware of.
• Employees have a chance to succeed.
• You find staff who can take more of the workload in the future.
• People get to contribute.
• Presents an opportunity to share the credit.
• People learn by doing.
• Loyalty and trust are built
Negative Aspects of Delegation
• Micromanaging/hovering creates distrust.
• Employees can feel dumped on.
• Interferes with people’s ego—they don’t want to give up opportunities to receive accolades for completing tasks/ projects on their own.
• Creates situations where a person does all the work but has no authority.
• Other work needs to be put aside when person is delegated to; priorities get confused.
6) Engage the group in a comparison of the responses on the positive and negative sides of the flipchart. Ask some or all of the following questions.
• What impact does delegation have on relationships in the workplace?
• How are you affected as a leader? Are you overworked because you are afraid to delegate?
• How can you delegate smaller tasks without it looking like “dumping?”
• How are your people affected by delegation? Do they have opportunities to reach their potential? Are they developing skills and experience?
• Look at the negative statements—what would it be like to work in an environment where these behaviors and emotions are being expressed?
• How important is trust to the delegation process?
Following the activity, give participants tips on what it takes to be a successful delegator, lead them through a class on the topic or encourage them to do self-study in this area.
This material excerpted from the Facilitator’s Guide to the video program, A Leader’s Guide to Delegating.