Resist the Urge to Delegate Up

The whole process of delegation has been compared to moving a monkey from your back to the back of someone else. As a manager, you have the responsibility for getting the work done. The monkey is on your back.

When you delegate, you transfer the monkey to someone else’s back. A team member who feels uncomfortable may try to get the monkey to jump back onto your back. You can recognize this process when the person brings the task back to you and says, “What do you want me to do about this?” Because decision making is a new responsibility, it is uncomfortable; the person tries to make the monkey jump onto your back. If you allow this to happen your attempt to delegate has failed. Your team member has lost the opportunity to grow, and you have become entangled in low payoff activities once again.

Take a look at your own behavior in this area. Do you tend to delegate up to the person you report to? When you accept a delegated task, accept the responsibility also.

Leadership Management Institute
Reprinted with permission


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