Management by Delegation vs. Abdication

When it comes to managing teams, it’s important to understand that how you choose to manage can make a huge difference in how your team responds, executes, and grows. 

 There are two types of managers out there: those who delegate and those who abdicate. Well, what’s the difference?

 Management by Delegation

When you delegate, you give tasks and responsibilities to other people on your behalf. You want this person to handle the tasks – usually from start to finish – and expect that they’ll complete the task efficiently and properly. 

 Here’s where some managers drop the ball when it comes to delegation. They forget the part that reads “on your behalf”. Although the manager is no longer handling the ins and outs of the task at hand, they’re ultimately still accountable for the outcome. 

 That said, a manager who properly delegates understands that it’s still necessary for them to stay in the loop. While they may not be as involved in the work as the assigned team member, they should know enough information if asked about the status of the task, for example. 

 A manager who stays in the loop is also able to jump in and offer support or assistance if necessary. Remember, just because a task has been delegated doesn’t mean it’s no longer the manager’s concern. A strong leader will want the best outcome possible. 

 This is the perfect segue into another management style – abdication. 

 Management by Abdication

This management style is much different than delegation – but the two are often confused. Abdication involves allocating tasks to other people on your behalf. Sounds a lot like delegation, right? However, the biggest difference between the two is abdication is synonymous with abandonment. 

 When a manager abdicates, they offload tasks and that’s it – they’re nowhere to be found after that! Unlike a manager who delegates, this type of manager does not remain in the loop about the task and does not make themselves available for support. 

 Management by abdication can create a work environment that is unproductive, unsupportive, and unhappy. And there are few things worse than unhappy employees. 

 It’s probably clear to see which management style is better for productivity and employee morale! Management by delegation builds teams that feel empowered, trusted, and respected. There’s also the obvious benefit of reclaiming some of your time to work on other assignments that perhaps only you can address.

 Does this mean you have to constantly micromanage your team? Absolutely not! You simply need to set your team up for greatness. Clearly outlining expectations and deadlines is a great way to do this. Clearly communicating those expectations upfront eliminates the need for rework and also eliminates frustration.

 Sitting down and figuring out what’s needed, how it’ll impact the organization, and all the other logistics does take a little time and preparation on the front end. But when you’re able to share this information when delegating, the end results are priceless!


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