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Even for managers there are only 24 hours in a day...

‘Pfff... Lately, I even have to skip the campo di bocce on Sunday,’ said an Italian who had no time for the traditional pétanque game! Mario, my weary-looking neighbor, was bitterly complaining while pruning his olive trees. Did he need some extra manpower? An enthusiastic bloke who could help him? Such a person can’t be that difficult to find...

It’s all about delegating, to use a big word. However, putting out the work was no option for Mario. According to him, teaching the tricks of the trade to an inexperienced pruner would take too much time and the result is not guaranteed at all. No way, he would lose too much time... and by the way: if you want a job done right, do it yourself!

This is a short-sighted, but not unusual reaction. Delegation problems occur frequently. Managers are overworked: their agenda is chockfull and they are walking their legs off. Although the tasks need to be carried out very urgently, they still don’t manage to delegate them in a structured way. As a coach, I often ask myself in such situations what their team members are doing all day long. Are they just wasting their time?

Strangely enough, there’s dissatisfaction at both levels: the managers are overworked and the people reporting to them, tell me they are bored because of too much routine. Their boss prefers to do everything by him/herself because (s)he doesn’t trust his/her employees.

There are four stereotypes who don’t like to pass on responsibility:
  • ‘Power machos’ are afraid of losing their position if they pass on too much responsibility to their employees.
  • ‘Inflated egos’ think their subordinates can’t do the job well enough. Nothing would be entirely perfect anyway. They only rely on themselves.
  • ‘Busy bees’ don’t take the time to explain what needs to be done. They are doing everything by themselves in order to avoid losing time, so to speak.
  • ‘Faultfinders’ do delegate, but are constantly checking everyone in such an irritating way that no-one can learn anything or develop his/her creativity.

But still, delegating is a must! You must delegate in order to make some progress. As we have already mentioned more than once: a team can always achieve more than a solo player. Maradonna was a highly-gifted football player, but without his team mates, Argentina would never have won the world cup...

A few remedies in a row:
  • Clearness. Speak in no uncertain terms. Clearly set your priorities and do what you have to do, ‘together’ with your team.
  • Insight into human nature. What are the skills of your team members? Make sure you know your people and put the right (wo)man on the right place.
  • Training. Invest time and money to allow your team members to develop their talents.
  • Learn by experience. Dare to make mistakes. Don’t always look back: allow your people to make mistakes and to learn from their mistakes. This is the only way to enable them to evolve and take more and more responsibility throughout the years. Everyone makes mistakes... Don’t you?
  • Guidance. Control freaks are seldom successful. Coach your people so that they can develop their talents and become more self-confident.
  • Appreciation. Dare to make compliments: if you are satisfied, just say it! Praise your people for the progress they have made and you will be surprised of their performances. In the course of time, they will desire more responsibility and be able to deal with it. Don’t forget motivation is an essential incentive: motivated people simply perform much better.

Are you a good delegator? Look in the mirror: just ask your employees whether you delegate well or not. Accept constructive feedback and you will undoubtedly make some progress. A well-guided 360° can perform miracles!


By Herman van Herterijck

"my ambition is to put the importance of pragmatic and continuous self-coaching on the agenda of current business leaders"

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