The 4 Most Common Excuses for Not Delegating

UPDATED: September 11, 2023
PUBLISHED: March 13, 2023
boss delegating tasks to employee

If you’re working as fast as you can but your career or business is stuck in a rut, ask yourself whether you’re making the best use of your time. Are you taking on too much because you’re afraid of letting anything go? Are you trying to do it all and not delegating tasks?

Outsourcing isn’t always easy for leaders and entrepreneurs to wrap their minds around, says mentor Harry Hecht of Orlando, Florida-based SCORE. “Most entrepreneurs believe that nobody else can do it right, and they have a hard time giving up control,” he says. “And that’s one of their downfalls.”

Bad reasons for not delegating tasks

Does this sound like your modus operandi? Do you have a bunch of reasons why outsourcing isn’t right for your business? Then we have a bunch of reasons why you might be wrong.

1. “Nobody can do it as well as I can.” 

There are indeed things that nobody can do as well as you—and those are the things you should spend most of your time doing. Running a business entails completing lots of tasks, large and small, that other people can do as well as you—and sometimes even better. Try keeping track of everything you do for two weeks, then assess how much time you spend on tasks you can hand off to others. Why waste precious time on those when you could be delegating tasks and concentrating on what you do best?

2. “It only takes a minute to…” 

True, answering an email, ordering office supplies and data entry only take a few minutes. But add a minute plus a minute plus a minute plus a few minutes, and so on and so forth, and suddenly the day is gone. How much more time would you have every day if someone else handled the little things such as answering the telephone? “The phone and email are time-wasters,” Hecht says. “It’s important not to do those continually through the day.”

3. “I can’t afford to delegate tasks.” 

Have you actually done the math on that? What is your time actually worth? Maybe your goal is to earn $250 an hour, and you have tasks that need handling that you can outsource for $100 an hour. Why take those on yourself? “You’re not going to reach your goal if you’re spending your time on $100-an-hour tasks,” Hecht says.

4. “Training someone will take too much time.” 

It’s true that training will take time. But Hecht recommends creating a workbook with step-by-step instructions for everything you need done, which will give your new employees a reference manual, create accountability and ensure consistency if you work with more than one person. And if someone leaves, the workbook is at the ready for training the next hire.

Don’t let your business flounder because you’re afraid of delegating tasks. You can only juggle so much before it all comes crashing down around you.

This article was published in January 2015 and has been updated. Photo by Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Sophia Dembling is the author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.