Your Boss Doesn’t Delegate to You

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Solution: Reverse Delegation

When the boss doesn’t seem to be able to delegate, our advice is to be patient. When we have a boss who doesn’t seem to understand how to delegate the right way there are two things we can do.

1. Is There Confidence in You?

The first thing you can do is to self-examine and ask yourself, “Is there any reason my leader lacks confidence in me?” Think through your organizational performance, and if there are areas where you may have underperformed those may point to reasons why your boss lacks a little confidence in you. When the boss lacks confidence, they tend to stop giving great assignments and they stop delegating. 

If this is the case, visit with your boss and iron out the problem in a direct conversation and ask for another opportunity. Be careful not to be defensive or shift blame – remember what you are after is another opportunity. Stay focused on that mission.

2. Use the Delegation Process in Reverse.

Use the same steps in the delegation process by asking your leader what you can do to help them. You may even know a specific project that needs to be delegated and is overwhelming your boss. Schedule a specific time when you can have a focused conversation with your boss. State the agenda in advance. In the meeting propose that they delegate that project to you. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Get really specific about what the project is and what outcomes are needed. Seek advice and guidance on how they would do the project and ask if there are any constraints or obstacles you should know about. Finally, agree to a delivery schedule target.

Step 2: Document the assignment and send an email to your boss seeking clarification. Run through the clarify and confirm exercise.

Step 3: Focus on making progress and updating your boss on that progress. Give your boss something to really cheer about with your work. Help your boss have the information they need to brag about you to their peers or their boss.

Step 4: This is normally the step where your boss respects your efforts and innovations. You can flip the table and engage your boss by making sure to respect their insights and inputs.

Step 5: Schedule a regular time to report and keep your boss informed. One of the most serious mistakes a new leader makes with their boss is to not report the status of key initiatives frequently.

Step 6: Whether or not you are formally recognized by your boss, make sure to appreciate and recognize your team.

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