Delegate Without Losing Control

The old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” does not always ring true when it comes to project management. It is important to know that you can’t do everything yourself and delegation is an essential part of being an effective project manager.

As a project manager it can be difficult to delegate because you may feel a loss of control and power. After all it is your responsibility to make sure the goals of the project are met. Remember, however, that power must be used appropriately and poor delegation can lead to resistance or even resentment from project members. Maintaining a balance between delegation and control can be very tricky.

First of all, you should use the least amount of power needed to reach the desired outcome. Start out with a small use of power and increase that amount if you feel it isn’t working. It’s also important that you don’t abuse the power you have. Never use power for personal gain especially if you have no authorization to do so.

When delegating duties and power, try giving people a choice but make sure the choices are ones you can live with. For example you could give these two choices: “Would it be possible to do this by tomorrow or do you need until the end of the week?” Don’t however ask: “Do you want to do this?” The answer to that question might not be what you want to hear and it also takes away from the project manager’s power.

Be involved in project members’ tasks, but don’t become over-involved. Frequent checking of progress is important so that you can spot problems early, but too much checking can be interpreted to mean you don’t trust their abilities.

Once you become comfortable using these strategies, you can move on to letting others make decisions and set agendas while you, as project manager, control the environment.

One thought on “Delegate Without Losing Control

  1. The old saying, ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself,’ does not always ring true when it comes to project management.

    Actually it almost never rings true. Neither in project management nor in any managerial role. It doesn’t matter much whether you manage project, product or people.

    Doing everything by yourself is a short way of being a micromanager. You also discourage people from taking risks and prevent engagement. I guess that isn’t something you’d like to see in your team.

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