A large number of managers find it difficult to "let go" of tasks and trust others to undertake work on their behalf. They get into a mindset that only they themselves can be trusted to complete work of any importance, fearing that it will be done incorrectly and that they will be the ones to take the blame and be responsible for rectifying the mistakes. Whilst this may be true to some extent, this way of working will not only strain relationships between the manager and his or her employees, but will also significantly hamper and limit the overall productivity of the business as managers struggle to do everything of note themselves.

The Size of the Company Can Play a Part in a Manager's Unwillingness to Delegate

This scenario is especially likely to occur when a sole trader business expands into a small company employing one or more additional people. The manager/owner will have become so used to doing everything themselves that it will feel entirely alien to them delegating the work to somebody else. The fact that the company is still likely to be 100% owned by them, as opposed to a gigantic corporation where the manager is likely to be an employee themselves and not have any ownership of it (apart from a few shares from bonus schemes perhaps), will make them extremely nervous about anything being done incorrectly which could be extremely damaging to the business. Combine this with the fact that a small business would typically find it much harder to absorb temporary declines in demand as a result of problems and mistakes (they may be dependent upon one major client for instance), and it is no wonder that many small business owners/managers have difficulty delegating important tasks.

Even managers of large companies struggle in this way though. Whilst they may have little or no actual ownership of the organisation, they will still be responsible and accountable for the performance of their particular department. If workers "under their watch" make errors which harm the business and end up costing it money or damaging its reputation and brand image, then senior management will want answers from those employees' manager.

The Need for Delegation

Whilst it is not surprising then that managers are reluctant to delegate important work, the reality is that for those companies which have reached a size that facilitated the need for taking on additional people, a manager will have no choice but to "outsource" some of the burden to others as it will be physically impossible for them to get through it all themselves.

Trust Workers Who Have Been Chosen

Unless the manager is new to the role and has inherited a team, it is highly likely that they played a big part during the interview and selection process, and saw enough qualities and ability in the person to believe that they could be trusted to perform competently. If the manager believed they were capable in theory, it is likely that they will be when given tasks for real.

The Manager is Unlikely to Complete Work Perfectly Themselves

A manager who tries to do everything on their own will not only likely find that they begin suffering health issues such as stress trying to get it all done, but will in all probability actually make mistakes themselves trying to rush it or undertake tasks whilst stressed and tired.

A manager who is wary of delegating work out to employees may actually have a false sense of their own abilities by assuming that nobody else could complete work as well as they can. It may be the case that the employee can complete the task to an even higher standard than the manager can, and will be all the more likely if that employee is highly trained and a specialist in a particular area. An example would be a manager who is unwilling to delegate work involving financial projections and budgets because of its importance when they actually have a trained and qualified accountant in their employ. This proves the necessity for managers to take the time to thoroughly understand the skill sets and talents of their staff members so that they have a much greater awareness of not only who is capable of performing a task to an acceptable standard, but also those team members who could actually do it better than the manager could themselves. By delegating tasks to competent employees, a manager may find that overall output is of a higher standard than they could otherwise achieve by doing it all by themselves, as well as freeing up time for them to focus on other issues such as determining the optimum path and direction of the business for the future.


Delegation is one of the hardest things for a manager to do, but is necessary for a business to function to anything like its full potential. It is for this reason that virtually every management training course will at least touch on the subject to some extent as it is an important issue which many managers struggle with.

Without delegation, not only will a company or department struggle to fulfil its objectives, but there is a danger that a manager will suffer from health problems caused by stress and overworking as they try to get everything done themselves by working long hours and suffer a loss of sleep and leisure time. It is therefore an issue which needs to be taken seriously.