Coaching Challenge: Delegating

Micromanagers and control freaks can drive people crazy…including themselves!

In trying to control everyone else’s work, they feel like they can never catch up. They’re stressed, and often pass along frustrations through unpleasant interactions with others…barking orders, never acknowledging accomplishments or contributions. They feel overworked and under appreciated.

Enter the coach! Really? Yes…coaching can be very effective in helping a person let go.

Dave was a senior manager who was lost in the weeds of detail and minutia. He jumped in to take on big and small tasks. He suffocated others with constant reminders and suggestion, only to compromise the quality of the work they had so seriously invested in. Dave had lost his proper focus on the big picture and the future. His micromanagement led his people to believe that he ultimately did not trust them to do their jobs properly.

An executive coaching engagement has helped Dave sort out his real responsibilities in the organization…to focus on what’s important, the future rather than the present, the work he should be doing in leading his group versus the work he can pass on to someone else. During his coaching engagement, Dave also discovered opportunities to develop his people by having them assume greater responsibility.

Becoming more skilled at delegation has given Dave more freedom, and has enabled him to develop himself as well. Let’s look at the process:

The big picture

What’s the whole view of the work to be done? What is our purpose? What are our objectives? What are the parts, and the steps to get to the finish line? What tasks can be farmed out to others, and what skills are essential to those tasks?


What must remain under my control, and why? Where are my strengths and weaknesses, and what can I delegate to someone more capable?


What resources—time, budget, people—are available to me? How are these resources currently allocated, and how could that be improved?

Stakeholder Input

How are others—our reports, our team, our department, colleagues, our boss, our customers—affected by our purpose and objectives? What recommendations could they make for improvements? Who could be given more responsibility?

Next Steps

Once you’ve identified tasks to be delegated, you can define boundaries and success criteria, assign necessary resources and supervision, point out development opportunities and any potential problems.

Successful managers are successful delegators. They and their people realize many benefits beyond the work at hand, including:

  • Greater engagement
  • Cost and time efficiencies
  • Individual and team development

Who wouldn’t give up something to gain so much in return? Just ask Dave!

What have you learned from your own delegating abilities?

If you found this post helpful, check out “About the Book” on this blog, and order yourself a copy of “What could happen if you do nothing?” A manager’s handbook for coaching conversations.

4 Responses to “Coaching Challenge: Delegating”

  1. Cyril Beauvert
    April 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    I enjoyed your post…I think the hardest thing for managers to learn is to give up control and trust others to get the work done. Delegation too often happens at the ends of the spectrum, from just dumping work on people who are (a) not experienced or sufficiently prepared (panic!) or (b) too experienced or overqualified to do the boss’s busy work (boredom!). Either extreme breeds resentment and under-performance.
    The art of delegation resides between these extremes, where it can be an effective strategy for getting the work done and for developing people at the same time. And the beauty part is that the manager doesn’t have to “do” the work! Thanks.

  2. Milly
    June 16, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    More posts of this quality, please

    • Carli
      June 23, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      That’s really shrewd! Good to see the logic set out so well.

  3. Doc
    June 18, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Touchdown! That’s a really cool way of putting it!