7 Delegation Mistakes That Can Kill Effective Teamwork

You can’t be a good manager if you can’t delegate.

For a period of time, you may be able to complete all the tasks required of you. But that will not last. Your career growth will stagnate. You will get tired of your tasks. You will become overwhelmed and exhausted, struggling to keep your head above the water.

Soon you will be playing catch up almost every day.

We interviewed one of our clients, Niraj Ranjan Rout (Founder at Hiver), to discuss 7 delegation mistakes that are killing your effective teamwork.

Realize that your business is not a one-man show

You may think it is a waste of time to delegate because you feel you can do a better job. But no matter how good you are, you will need your team’s help to get things done effectively on a consistent basis. Delegation is important for your growth.

Let’s look at some of the possible consequences of ineffective delegation:

  • The quality of work will suffer
  • Your team’s morale will suffer, which could lead to trust deficits, fear, and insecurity
  • It could hamper the development of your team members

Now let us look at 7 delegation mistakes that are gradually killing your teamwork and rendering it useless and how you can achieve effective delegation by avoiding them.

Delegation Mistake #1: Not Able to Differentiate Between Delegating and Training

These two concepts are often mixed up by managers. To be clear, training is aimed at improving the employee’s performance or help them attain a required level of knowledge or skill. Whereas, delegation is aimed at reducing the workload of managers so they can focus on important tasks and allow the subordinates to grow in the process.

If a manager delegates a task to a subordinate, the subordinate is expected to complete the task on their own. The manager shouldn’t get involved unless required. Micromanaging the situation will make it look more like training than delegation. By micromanaging, you are essentially defeating the purpose of delegating. It can have adverse effects like low morale, self-doubt, trust deficit, and productivity slumps.

The key here is to trust the employee to perform the task on their own. They may require some guidance in the beginning, but don’t be an overbearing presence.

Delegation Mistake #2: Providing Vague Instructions

Clear communication is fundamental to effective delegation. If you don’t let the team member know what is expected of them in clear and precise terms, the outcome may fall short of the ideal.

This is why when you are delegating a task, you should clearly mention the following:

  • The outcome expected in clear and measurable terms
  • The time it will take for the task to be completed
  • The maximum amount of resources that can be allotted
  • The tools to be used
  • The names and ranks of all the parties involved
  • When and how reporting should be delivered

There shouldn’t be any room for misunderstanding or vagueness.

For instance, if you want to delegate a task like making a report of all the complaints received with respect to a particular feature, the message should appear like this:

Make a 500 word report on customer complaints with regards to the email notes feature, and send it to me via email by 3:30 pm.

The deliverables and other conditions (if any) should be explained precisely and clearly. This will help ensure the end result is closer to what was expected.

Read More: How to Create Processes that Improve Your Bottom Line

Delegation Mistake #3: Picking the Wrong Person

If you delegate a task to someone who is not suited or capable of doing it, the results may be far from ideal. Additionally, it may lead to squabbles, dissent, and lack of respect among your subordinates. As they say in sports, you may end up losing “the dressing room,” and that doesn’t bode well for a leader.

The key here is to gain an in-depth knowledge of your team. Their strengths, skills, weaknesses, and areas of expertise should be known to you. This will help ensure that you pick the right person for the job. For example, if a person has superior math skills, you could delegate statistics-related tasks to them.

This kind of delegation will not only make you more efficient and effective, but it will make you a good leader as well. And, it will help your team develop into a strong, cohesive unit.

Read More: How to Inspire Goal Commitment From Your Team

Delegation Mistake #4: Delegating a Task, and Then Not Monitoring It

Delegating a task doesn’t mean that it isn’t your responsibility anymore. Although you may have explained the task in great detail, it doesn’t guarantee the task will be completed as per your expectations.

You have to keep monitoring the progress and ask for regular updates. This helps ensure he/she is on the right track. And, you can also step in early if there are any errors or mistakes. Nipping it in the bud avoids wastage of time, energy, and resources.

That said, you should always try to strike a balance between monitoring and supporting. You need to give people enough freedom to use their abilities to the best effect.

This is where collaboration tools and timekeeping tools really come in handy. They make it easier to monitor the progress without being nosy or micromanaging the situation.

Delegation Mistake #5: Expecting Perfection

Perfectionism is a major hindrance to getting things done. If you are driven by perfectionism, you will struggle when it comes to delegating tasks.

Your obsession with being perfect can lead to constant meddling and micromanaging. You will never be satisfied with their work, the result will be – endless meetings and revisions. This will eventually drive your subordinates crazy. If someone can complete a task at 80-90%, then let them complete it.

Your focus should be on progress rather than perfection. This will help you save time, and focus on more important things.

Read More: How to Set Effective Goals with Employees and Boost Performance

Delegation Mistake #6: Not Sharing The Rewards and Credit

When you are delegating tasks, you aren’t just sharing the responsibility. Your teammates should get a fair share of the rewards and the credit, too. In other words, don’t hoard the good words or the recognition. Instead, spread the love.

If your top management is happy with the work, let your subordinates know about it. Not only does it keep the motivation levels up, but it will help the subordinates develop and grow.

Always remember to explicitly mention the names of employees who worked along with you on a task or project. They will be more eager to take up delegated tasks next time around.

Delegation Mistake #7: Not Knowing What to Delegate

This happens with a lot of managers regularly. It is due to the fact that they are not able to read the situation clearly, they cannot decide what tasks to delegate.

Here’s a checklist to help you decide what can be delegated:

  • A low priority task, which is something that doesn’t come under your core focus area
  • Less important tasks that eat away at your time and/or energy 
  • Laying the groundwork such as collecting resources, prospect research, data entry, etc
  • Tasks that you are not good at doing
  • A task that your teammates can do better
  • Something that you want your team to learn

Here is an infographic developed by Quickskill, one of the top virtual assistant services for executives, to help you decide what to delegate.

Read More: The Outsourcing Test: When to Delegate Work Outside your Company


Everyone knows that delegation without authority is not effective, yet many of us repeat the same mistake often. This affects your teammates by creating doubt in your abilities to manage them effectively, which renders the whole delegation process useless.

The best way to get rid of this doubt is by empowering your teammates through:

  • Sharing the authority and rewards along with the responsibility
  • Clearly communicating what is expected of them
  • Supplying them with the tools, information, and resources they need to perform

Always remember that a high-performing team is infinitely more productive than a high-performing individual!

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If you need help delegating, here are a few options to help you:

  1. Download our ebook “How to Use Delegation to be a More Impactful Leader” and get a better understanding of what tasks to delegate, how to delegate effectively, and how to create processes that save you time in your delegation.
  2. Book a free consultation call with Quickskill. We can help you regain more of your time by offloading repeatable tasks to a fully managed virtual assistant. One of our experts will help you create a plan to delegate your tasks and we will even train your VA for you.
  3. If you know someone else who’d benefit from being a better delegator, share this post with them via email, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.
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