Why is Delegation So Hard?

How your DISC behavior profile may be a factor

At a recent leadership training session, the management team brainstormed ways that their DISC profile might contribute to a leader’s challenges with delegation. For those of you not familiar with DISC, it’s a behavioral profile tool used by thousands of organizations across the world to improve an employee’s personal and professional insight in their behavioral preferences in decision making, people interaction, preferred pace of their environment, and preference for protocols and standards.

While it is a vast oversimplification to separate people into just four types, it is useful to see how each type struggles with delegation. In reality, we all show a combination of these traits. Click here if you would like to take a complementary DISC.

Delegation for High D’s

High Decisive individuals are described as demanding, driven, forceful, daring and determined. They like new ideas, are bottom line focused and can be impatient to get results quickly. High D’s may struggle with delegation because they want things done their way quickly, but they often lack the patience to convey their vision or instructions in enough detail, assuming others will just know what needs to be done. This could lead to frustration and anger when things don’t go the way they plan, and they could blame the individual for failure and lose trust in the person’s competence, when really the issue was their inability to slow down and communicate effectively. High D’s may begin to think it’s going to be easier to just do things themselves and they could hold onto tasks that really should be delegated effectively to free them up to have the energy to focus on innovation.

Delegation for High I’s

High Interactive individuals are described as gregarious, persuasive, inspiring, enthusiastic and sociable. They get excited easily and enjoy communicating with others and inspiring a team. High I’s may struggle with delegation because in the process of communicating their excitement, they may talk too fast, not listen effectively, forget to share important details and not allow enough time for the individual to ask questions because they monopolized the conversation. High I’s may overestimate that others understand their instructions because they see themselves as “good communicators”, but often in their excitement they lack the discipline to double check they were understood. Also, because high I’s move on quickly to the next inspiring idea, they often lack the discipline to circle back around and confirm that delegated tasks were completed. Over time this lack of follow-through can cause individuals to not worry about being held accountable by their supervisor.

Delegation for High S’s

High Stabilizing individuals are described as patient, predictable, passive, complacent, stable and consistent.  High S’s can be slow to make changes, preferring what’s comfortable and known, over what’s new and different. High S’s may struggle with delegation because they don’t want to offend someone by being perceived as too “bossy” or stepping over lines of authority. High S’s value harmony on a team and they are loyal group members, often sacrificing their time efficiency for the needs of others. High S’s might avoid delegation that initiates change, preferring to keep doing things in their own routine, even if the tasks bog them down and makes them less efficient. High S’s may fear that someone may do something differently and change up the status quo. The comfortable norm may be perceived as better then letting go and forcing a new way of doing things.

Delegation for High C’s

High Cautious individuals are described as perfectionistic, systematic, careful and analytical. High C’s often know the facts, figures, and details around activities and tasks and they have a set way of doing something because in their mind that’s the “right” way. High C’s may be challenged with delegation because they want things done perfectly by their definition of “right” and they don’t like to give up control to others who may be sloppy or imprecise in their approach to a task. High C’s may hold on to tasks at their own expense because they lose sight of the bigger picture, not appreciating that their time may be more effective applied to things not so heavily focused in the weeds.  High C’s are suspicious of changing things unless they can agree that the new way of doing something is going to achieve better results then their current way of getting something done. Delegation can be hard because high C’s fear failure and/or a loss of quality standards.

If a leader wants to master the art of delegation, they need to start with self-awareness of how power, control, fear and ego interplay with their behavior preferences and behavior patterns. Understanding your DISC profile helps a leader become more effective with delegation in the workplace. Schedule a complimentary debrief with a DISC certified expert to go over your profile.

Comments are closed.