Opportunities to Delegate Authority

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One of the most common management mistakes made by new and more experienced managers is missing the opportunity to delegate authority. Many assignments and project action steps are delegated to employees without the necessary level of authority to act provided.

Why does this happen and what can be done to do a better job in order to increase performance?

There are a number of causal factors for not delegating authority. Here are the primary issues.

  1. The manager is acting like a “control freak”, whether by omission or as a matter of management style. They are reluctant to give up the control of every little detail of assignments. They either do not trust the employee or simply have to keep the authority for key steps in the execution.
  2. Often, this type of manager has the feeling that “no one can do it as well as I can.” This is very unfortunate. First, it is a poor reflection on the manager that they have not developed their people to be able to handle the proper use of authority. Secondly, this ego-centric approach limits the scope of what the manager’s business unit can accomplish because no one can act independently.  Eventually the manager gets so tied down holding onto everything that productivity suffers markedly.
  3. The manager fails to recognize the unique opportunity they have to help their people grow and develop. They keep their employees locked into the same duties and responsibilities. Instead of giving them incremental chances to develop by giving appropriate levels of authority, they withhold growing them.

Proper delegation helps to develop your people

One of the key responsibilities a manager has is to “grow their people”, so that individually and collectively the business unit becomes more competent. Their team will be able to take on more and bigger assignments. The manager will develop a reputation for building and managing a high-performance unit. This is only achieved when the manager consistently delegates authority.

This does not have to be an all or nothing process. Each employee can be assigned a bit more authority as part of their development. Find projects or assignments that will stretch them to learn and grow but at a level they can handle. If they execute and use the authority appropriately, give them a bit more on the next assignment. If they do not perform as expected, use the opportunity to do some coaching and then try a small step again. Any positive results should be recognized and attention called to the behavior.

Managers need to recognize this very important point:

Delegating authority is not the same as giving up control. You delegate authority with the appropriate level of accountability and status reports.

The manager who knows how to delegate authority is very specific about the assignment. “Here is your assignment. You have this level of authority under these circumstances but if a different set of circumstances occurs, you need to check back with me first.”  Very often the inability to delegate authority is a result of not having the proper skills to delegate effectively.

These delegation skills can be learned and are an integral part of the ability to delegate authority and grow the business unit. Take this opportunity to check out the Management By Delegation Program aimed at helping managers at all levels to gain advanced management skills and techniques to become a high-productivity leader.

Learn More: You can learn more from our e-books, “Management By Delegation” and “Delegating Through the Lens of the Employee”  bringing real world experience and proven tools to managers world wide. Our Programs provide tested procedures, proven skills and valuable management delegation insights for those who manage people for results.


Michael D. Moore is the publisher of Management By Delegation and is a veteran executive with 40+ years in the Banking and Insurance Industries. A devoted entrepreneur, using his business experience to provide resources for managers and leaders at all levels. For the last 5 years, he has built a growing web presence for helping people with personal and professional development. To learn more about these advanced concepts & join our group Click here 5 Must Have Management Skills

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