Managers wearily trudge into training here nearly every day. You can tell by the looks on their faces as they scan their phone messages that they are worried about what is going on back at work. We brainstorm lists of challenges they encounter and inevitably, "Falling behind at work" tops the list. Some say they'll have to work for the next several evenings to make up for what they missed during a day at training. Their anxiety is obvious. Others, though, say they are not a bit worried. They report being fully confident that their employees have things at work well in hand. What's the difference? It's usually the the degree to which managers feel comfortable in delegating tasks to their direct reports.
When people are asked whether they delegate enough (or at all), several report that they'd like to do so, but they just don't trust their employees to do the right thing or treat their customers well. So, they continue to withhold projects and tasks that would help people grow. When we discuss this practice, managers quickly admit "hoarding" work is a problem, but they don't want to take a chance that someone else won't do the work exactly as they would.
One manager had an ah-ha moment recently when another participant challenged him. He was asked, "How did YOU learn your job? One time you were a rookie and someone cared enough about you to take a chance, right?" Time limitations, urgency and lack of patience are oft-cited excuses for not providing employees with more responsibility. In the end, the group agreed that a manager's job is to develop people. That means disciplining one's self to MAKE the time, display patience and encourage your direct reports so they can use more of their talents. As a bonus, you can take a day off for vacation, do community service, or even attend training.