Merge's Blog

Overcoming reverse delegation

My latest contribution as a member of’s panel of business experts launched into cyberspace this morning. Frequent readers of the blog will recall that since May, I have been writing regular columns for the online version of Profit Magazine. And in case you didn’t know, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, so I’m pretty chuffed to be in such esteemed company. Today’s column is titled: How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them.  It’s about overcoming the reverse delegation trap.

Overcome the reverse delegation trap

reverse delegation

The column spells out, step-by-step, how to avoid falling victim to the classic leadership trap known as “reverse delegation”, the natural tendency to offer assistance by taking back a task you’ve assigned to someone else.

Reverse delegation occurs far more often than leaders realize (or that they are willing to admit). It is a very easy trap to fall into.  But if you are committed to not allowing your personal workload to escalate AND to building skills and confidence in your people, then it is critical that you know how to respectfully and effectively push back when it occurs.

I pose the question in this article: What will it take to stop you doing your employees’ work for them? The biggest obstacle is you, and your often unconscious mindset of “It’s easier and faster to do it myself”.  The hardest part of escaping reverse delegation is to have the presence of mind to catch yourself before you fall into the trap.  Just remember that your success as a leader comes from your ability to help your staff accomplish their work objectives, not from doing their work yourself.

So take a read-through, and then come on back to the blog and share your thoughts. Have you fallen victim to this classic leadership trap? If not, what has been your approach to avoid reverse delegation? Please share so that we can all learn from one another.


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