Why Over-Delegation Kills Businesses

Many business-people and top executives believe that one shouldn’t micro-manage and start delegating everything. While delegation does save time, there can be such a thing as over-delegation.

Some decisions need to be taken by someone with the mindset of an entrepreneur, even if they are an employee. They cannot be taken by someone who cannot think beyond 9 to 5. For example, many people think all large scale employee concerns, whether internal or concerning an outside party should be dealt with solely by HR, after all that is what they are paid for. However, with the exception of a small percentage of remarkable HR people, most of them just cannot think long term.

Many cannot understand the consequence of constantly shielding employee concerns from the boss. Many cannot understand the value of initiatives that will positively benefit the mindset and skill-set of employees in the long term and eventually improve the company’s revenue. Entrusting 100 percent responsibility to them to take these crucial decisions or allowing a culture where such communication is shielded can be catastrophic to the business in the long run.

This is true for any department  where information is being withheld/distorted and decisions are being taken that are not in alignment with the long term vision of the company. In this case, over delegation maybe deadly.

There is a game called Chinese Whisper. What happens in this game is that  a person demonstrates some actions in front of another person without anybody else present, for example, pretending to open the cupboard, selecting clothes and combing the hair. The first person goes out of the room, the second person invites the third person and then communicates what they think the first person acted out to the third person. Distortions in what was actually communicated by the first person are already visible in the communication between the second and third person.  The third person then acts what they thought was communicated to  the fourth person. This goes on sequentially, till the last person.

By the time the last person is reached, what started off as pretending to open the door, picking clothes and combing hair turns into random monkey like dancing that makes no sense. The sad part is this is exactly what happens in the top down chain of command in organizations where there is over delegation and no transparency. The reverse is also true. When the junior executives want to communicate something higher up the ladder, that too gets horribly distorted by the time it reaches the CEO.

Now, delegation is extremely important when it comes to scaling and running a large business, however, a culture of transparency needs to be maintained.

Employees should be able to have a communication channel to raise concerns to the decision makers, just like customers are often able to voice complaints to the CEO of the company through email. Communication from external contractors where the impact is significant should be treated the same way. This may seem like a waste of time, and not every issue  needs to be addressed, but you need to at least be aware of it so that you are not moving along blindly and can make course corrections when really required.

A culture where crucial internal or external communication that has long term consequences is either not shared with the true decision maker or is distorted should not be encouraged in the name of delegation.

The only things that should be delegated 100 percent are those that have none or minimal long term impact on the growth of the organization. Even in those cases, you should be reviewing reports regularly and studying the numbers. Remember, many times, the biggest disasters in history happened because of the tiniest of errors.

In Summary: Remember, not everything should be delegated. One cannot delegate their relationship with their spouse to someone else, can they?