The Disadvantages of Delegation in Management
In management, delegation of responsibilities allows managers to use staff resources to accomplish more objectives. Though delegation is a key aspect of management, many managers feel uncomfortable with delegation or reluctant to delegate for a variety of reasons. For these managers, the disadvantages of delegation may seem to outweigh the benefits.
Some managers may find that delegation requires a considerable amount of time. In some cases, managers may have to train staff to handle delegated tasks; depending on the task, the training may take from a few minutes to several weeks. For simple tasks, managers may feel it is easier and faster to simply do the task themselves than to train staff to take on the responsibility.
Many managers need to delegate tasks that they have performed for a considerable period of time. Managers with a passion for quality control may feel that they can perform the task better than subordinates, and may feel that delegating will sacrifice quality for the sake of efficiency. In some cases, managers do lose some measure of quality when delegating tasks, especially to staff members who are unfamiliar with the work or who have little experience performing the task. Managers can help counter the effects of delegation on quality by retaining quality-control functions and approving staff members’ work, but doing so can take up time and offset the benefits of delegating the task.
Managers who truly love their work may find that delegating places some of their more enjoyable tasks in the hands of others. Because managers have a responsibility to oversee a department rather than to handle individual tasks, delegating tasks both mundane and enjoyable is part of the job. This downside to delegation can become even more frustrating when managers see their staff members doing work that the manager once enjoyed.
When a manager delegates tasks, staff members can take credit for work the manager once claimed as her own. For some managers, not getting credit seems like a loss of political or social capital within the organization. In addition, some managers feel that delegating work reduces the need for their position, and some managers fear losing their jobs because they have delegated away their work. In many organizations, though, managers receive credit for the work their teams perform; delegation in these organizations has a reduced effect on the manager’s credit and relevance.
When a manager delegates work, she must explain the requirements and other key information to the appropriate staff members. Miscommunication can result in poor quality and missed objectives, so managers must make great efforts to properly communicate expectations. In addition, managers must make themselves available to listen to employee concerns regarding the delegated tasks and to answer questions as they arise.