Good supervisors and managers are able to delegate effectively. Delegation is key to good time management and an important skill in developing employees to take on greater responsibility. While delegation is an important management skill, it is not without its disadvantages. There are several barriers to effective delegation and times when work should not be delegated. Good managers must be aware of these drawbacks and know when to avoid delegation or how to leap over the barriers.

Insufficient Training or Skills

It is not enough to simply hand a task to an employee and tell him to do it. The employee must be sufficiently trained and possess the skills needed to perform the task well. If the employee does not have the necessary skills or training, the manager is setting the employee up for failure. To overcome this barrier, a manager or supervisor needs to take the time to train an employee in how to do the task and coach his performance before handing it off permanently.

Morale Issues

Delegation can be a tricky issue for the employees to whom the delegation is being made. If they feel they are being asked to do a task simply because the manager doesn't like the task or because it is unpleasant, they are unlikely to help make the delegation successful. Even if they do perform it to the best of their abilities, it can harm their morale and make them less motivated to perform other tasks. An employee may also feel insecure about the task if she doesn't feel she has the necessary skills or she may feel she doesn't have the time to do the task along with her regular duties.

Lack of Authority

There are some tasks that require a certain amount of authority to accomplish. This authority may come in the form of being able to secure funds or get the cooperation of people in other departments. If a task is given to an employee who lacks the proper authority to secure the necessary resources, the delegation is likely to fail. Managers must ensure that sufficient authority is delegated along with the the task.

Lack of Experience

An employee who lacks experience with an organization may shy away from a delegated task even if he has the necessary skills and training. Some tasks require a familiarity with the organization and its employees. An inexperienced employee may lack the confidence needed to secure the proper resources and perform the task consistently well. However, given that delegated tasks are one way that an employee can gain experience, this is a barrier that can be overcome with patience and persistence on the part of the manager. It must be recognized that the trainee could need more time and more coaching than a more experienced employee would need.


Another barrier to delegation is when the manager or supervisor engages in perfectionism. Demanding that the task be performed exactly as the manager or supervisor would perform it can lead to difficulties in delegation. Unless the task is hazardous or related to safety or money, it may be necessary to allow the employee to develop her own way of performing a task. The manager also must be able to tolerate errors when the task is first being performed until the employee gains experience and knowledge.