5 Common Barriers to Successful Delegation

resource management stakeholder management Mar 14, 2021
5 Common Barriers to Successful Delegation

Last week we looked at 4 Steps to Diligently Delegate.  There are five very common barriers to enacting a successful delegation. Good project managers understand what these are and avoid the pitfalls.

1.  The project manager may have a personal interest in the task. While you may have a personal interest, your job now is to manage and grow the team. Don't let your personal interests get in the way of a successful delegation, especially if it will help another team member grow. Often project managers think, "I can do it better or faster myself." While this may be true, it's again clearly not helping the team. Give team members the opportunity to grow.

2.  The project manager may lack confidence in the capability of others. It's important for you to personally know each and every team member. Don't lose sight of this - you should confidently know the capabilities of each team member. Have occasional one-on-one meetings to learn more about the team and touch base briefly on a daily or at least a weekly basis.

3.  The project manager may also be afraid to lose control of the work and not know what is going on.  Appropriate follow-up after the delegation is a good way to stay informed.  Set regular progress review milestones. They may be at regular intervals or as some of the work is completed - decide what is best for activity and project circumstances. It is also not appropriate to overload or burden someone. Make sure you consider workloads when you choose the right person for the assignment.

4.  Team members may fear criticism for mistakes or lack of confidence. Give feedback frequently and constructively. If this attitude persists in the team, after you've made a few delegations consider how you might either change your delegation strategy or the feedback that you give to support and empower the team.

5.  Do not make inappropriate delegations. Do not delegate anything you are clearly responsible for and able to carry out. If a task is vague or ill defined, make sure it is better understood before delegating. Or make sure that the team member understands there may be something vague that needs to be accomplished.  Crisis management and sensitive or confidential tasks are usually not good candidates for delegation. Once again, carefully consider how you handle these matters.

Considering these potential delegation issues will avoid unnecessary project risks. A successful delegation needs to be supported as the work progresses. Do not only identify the right person, but follow up with them as the work progresses. Be very clear about your expectations. Be sure you set standards for success, a timeline, and if the work will take more than a few days, set progress milestones for follow up.

If necessary, make sure that key stakeholders, that will be impacted are involved know that a delegation has been made. Then meet regularly with the team member to make sure work is progressing as planned. Keep stakeholders in the loop as necessary. 

And most important, remember to practice acknowledgement. Celebrate success when the task is complete, and make sure the team member knows they were successful and their efforts were appreciated.

Today's post is based on a lesson from Accidental Project Manager: The Online Experience, a Project Hero Academy course.  What to find out if the Academy is for you and learn more about project management?  Visit https://accidentalpm.online/project-hero-academy to apply for free admission.

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