Many managers, especially those who are new to management and are taking on the position of a first line manager will find it tough to delegate tasks to their employees. The most likely reason is that the new manager will be keen to make a good impression on the more senior management who have trusted them with this new-found responsibility, and so will be aware that they are being watched and scrutinised more intensely than others whilst their superiors evaluate their decision to place them in the role. Because of this, the new manager will be highly reluctant to trust certain tasks to subordinates and give up control of these areas of the project.

Depending on the size of the overall task or project, the manager may get away with doing most or all of the work themselves. Whilst they may feel more comfortable with being in control of everything, not only will their employees feel like the manager does not trust them or believe in their abilities, but the overall quality of the finished product or service may be lower than if little parts had been done by different people, as the manager has had to rush everything to get it completed on time. This poor quality would reflect badly on the new manager, which ironically was in fact the thing they wanted to avoid and the main reason for them wanting to keep control of everything in the first place!

Even if the manager does manage to complete the project to a satisfactory standard, they may have sown the seeds for disaster next time. If employees feel like they are not trusted or given enough work to do, they may become de-motivated, and will not be inclined to offer suggestions or improve their skills through additional learning. This is likely have an impact on the long-term prospects of the business, especially when another project or task comes up that is simply too much for the manager to handle on their own. By failing to empower employees and giving them responsibility on a small project, there is a good chance of them floundering when it comes to a large and more complex one.

Because of its importance as a crucial management skill, a number of management training courses have delegating and delegation as part of the course syllabus. It is often combined with an element of interpersonal skills such as effective communication and team building so that managers can bring out the best from the employees that they are trusting with the work.