Any manager who has delegated to employees knows that people aren’t always willing and eager to take on more work. The key to effective delegation is anticipating employee objections and knowing how to deal with them.
Delegation Essentials (free, online manager training for your delegation skills)
Let’s take a look at some of the most common employee objections...
1. “I Don’t Have Time - I’m Too Busy”
This is probably the most common objection because everyone is busy. If your employees aren't busy then you have a problem (and an opportunity to make more use of them). It's a management myth that "Employees are too busy for you to delegate work to them" because:
Over time people get faster at their jobs.
People are incredibly unproductive. Between distractions, personal chores and inefficient working practices the average worker is less than 50% productive. This means there is a huge potential to be more productive
People are incredibly resourceful: when required to they can come up with creative ways to save time and work more efficiently
There is a lot of work that is not value adding or is low priority that can be dropped.
The work cascade means more important priorities flow down the organisation. This means your role as a boss is to take the work that you get from your boss and distribute it to your employees. And this work causes a reprioritization of all work, where higher priority work displaces lower priority work so that.
Allocating work to your employees is not only your responsibility but also helps to make the whole organisation more efficient.
The expression: "If you want something done, give it to a busy man" is because the more pressure people are put under, the better they become at producing output.
This is how you deal with this objection:
Give your employee an estimate of how much extra time is involved
Let them know that everyone has got more work than they can finish
Let them know that a responsibility of doing their job includes managing their workload, prioritising tasks and making time
This should only take an extra hour of your time every week. All of us have more work than we can finish every week and so as part of managing your own workload I consider that it's reasonable for you to prioritise this over less important tasks. You can also find the time by learning how to do other parts of your job in less time.
2. “I Don’t Know How to Do It”
This is another common objection.
Before anyone tries something they don't know how to do it - experts don't start off as experts
You as a boss didn't know the job yourself when you started. And the first few times you did it, you probably sucked at it and made mistakes
The only way to learn and grow is to start by not knowing everything. And the less you know the more you have a chance to learn
Fresh eyes bring fresh solutions - this is a good way to drive innovation
There are many ways to learn what they need to know whether by Google, online learning, shadowing, following a guide, talking to people etc.
You may want to allow a period of learning with extra review and remind them that:
Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Making a mistake isn't the biggest problem, not learning from it is the real problem
3. “What if I Get it Wrong?”
This is very similar to the "I don't know how to do it" objection and many of the points from there apply. Because making mistakes is part of the learning process but in addition remind them that:
"With any new responsibility there is a period of learning and making mistakes. But the whole point of giving people responsibilities is that they should reach a level of competence"
But also be aware of your responsibility as a boss
But having said that - it's simply a fact that some people are not suited to some tasks. One of the responsibilities of you as a boss is finding the right person to do the job. This includes getting to know what your employees are good at and what they aren't good at (by building functioning relationships with them through one on ones and knowing how to apply the DISC behaviour model). And re-allocating work away from employees who aren't suited to the job to employees who are suited to the job.
If you don't do this as a manager then you will constantly be swimming against the tide and your job will be a lot more difficult. And your employees will feel frustrated and unhappy at work. Unfortunately sometimes this means that you have people on your team that don't match the work that you have for them. This is another topic outside the scope of Effective Delegation.
You can communicate to your employee that if they truly prove to be unsuited to the task after a period then you will find a better person to do the task. But for now their responsibility it to do it to their best ability.
A manager’s job is to get things done through others. This calls for effective delegation to lighten the manager’s workload whilst developing the employee’s skills at the same time. But dissent is almost always inevitable. Employees who are more than capable of taking on more will nevertheless think of reasons why they can’t.
Effective managers will anticipate the expected concerns and address them with valid responses in such a way that it not only minimises resistance and anxiety but also encourages cooperation.
Find out how to improve your own delegation skills with delegation training. Delegation Essentials is a free, online management training course.
Tip: Doing the course will enable you to get a certificate for your resume.
Special Mention About Weekly One on One Meetings With Employees
A regular, high quality One-on-One Meeting practice makes managing easy by combining all of your responsibilities into one efficient time slot. One-on-one meetings are also a good place to delegate.
Helpful Resource: Plan and keep track of your delegations with a One on One Meeting Template. Get this and more in the free, online course: 3 Steps 2 Easy 1 on 1s
Do you have any comments, questions or tips about how to deal with delegation objections? Please share in the comments below...