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Five impediments to delegation

It’s a cliché: delegate as much as you can.  The prerequisites for effective delegation, often unstated, are that there is someone to whom you can delegate and who is competent, less expensive, and has time to do the work well.


Stated in the negative, at least five reservations hold delegators back: control, risk, job security and ego, quality of the delegee, and severability of the work


  1. We all feel more in control of a task or responsibility if we do it.  Entrusting someone else when any blame will come back to you is fretful step.
  2. Lawyers worry about things going wrong; they are more prone than most people to be averse to risk, and there is inevitably more or different risks when you assign work to someone else.
  3. Some in-house lawyers may hoard work because they want to be busy and seem essential.
  4. Mistrust of the ability or motivation of the delegee clogs delegation.  If the available person just isn’t very good at the task and training time isn’t available, delegation is a non-starter.
  5. The work doesn’t lend itself to being broken into delegable chunks.  By the time you slog through explaining the work, parceling it out, and melding the pieces, it’s not worth it.