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The Delegation Dilemma: Untangling the Manager's Maze in the Age of Collaboration

By Anna Naveed


Human Resources Blog Library

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In today's dynamic business landscape, effective delegation has become a cornerstone of successful leadership. Patrick Lencioni, author of "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," emphasizes, "A cohesive team is a collection of individuals who hold themselves accountable to the group's goals and why." Managers, however, often grapple with the delegation dilemma: identifying which tasks to relinquish and which to retain for optimal team performance.

When to Empower: Delegation's Strategic Symphony

Delegation isn't just about offloading tasks; it's about strategically leveraging your team's strengths. As Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations at Google, highlights, "Great managers delegate work in a way that makes the most of the team's expertise and helps them grow." Consider Sarah Blake Pearce, CEO of Astrid Design, a web design and development agency. Pearce thrives on delegating website maintenance tasks to her junior team members, fostering their technical skills and freeing her time for client strategy.

Delegation becomes a win-win: the manager focuses on higher-level priorities while team members gain valuable experience and ownership. Additionally, delegation fosters a collaborative environment, a key factor in employee engagement. As a 2021 Gallup study reveals, engaged employees are 21% more profitable than their non-engaged counterparts.

The Art of Not Letting Go: Tasks That Demand Your Touch

There are situations where a manager's direct involvement remains crucial. Laurie Ruettgers, author of "People Power: Unleashing the Expertise of Your Team," advises, "Leaders must reserve bandwidth for strategic thinking and decision-making that advances the organization's goals.” Here are some situations where you, as the manager, might want to keep tasks on your plate:

  • Highly confidential or sensitive issues: Matters involving sensitive information or company secrets might necessitate your direct oversight.
  • Strategic decision-making: As the leader, you set the course for your team. While including your team in strategic discussions is valuable, some final decisions might require your expertise and authority.

Beyond Delegation: Fostering a Culture of Shared Ideas

Effective delegation goes hand-in-hand with fostering a culture of shared ideas and appreciation. Josh Bersin, a prominent HR thought leader, emphasizes, "The best way to get great ideas is to get a lot of ideas." Here are some innovative ways companies are creating collaborative platforms for idea exchange:

  • Slack channels: Slack, a popular communication platform, allows for dedicated channels where team members can brainstorm, share documents, and provide feedback in real-time.
  • Idea boards: Physical or virtual idea boards encourage team members to anonymously submit suggestions and vote on the most promising ones.
  • Internal innovation challenges: Companies can host internal innovation challenges, encouraging employees from all departments to submit solutions to specific problems.


WebHR: Empowering Delegation Through Technology

WebHR, a leading HR solution provider, understands the importance of effective delegation. Their platform offers features like built-in task management tools and performance reviews that streamline the delegation process. Managers can easily assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. Additionally, WebHR's performance review system allows managers to provide ongoing feedback and recognition, fostering a culture of appreciation for individual and team contributions.

The delegation dilemma isn't a binary choice. By understanding the strategic value of delegation, combined with fostering a collaborative and appreciative work environment, managers can empower their teams and unlock their full potential. As Douglas Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup Company, succinctly states, "To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace."