15 Barriers To Delegation of Authority and 7 Ways To Overcome Them

Barriers To Authority Delegation

When you are flooded by various tasks as a manager, you may not effectively execute them. As such, it is a good choice to delegate some of the authority and tasks to your subordinates. However, it is not that straightforward, different obstacles may come that way.

Here we will explore 15 barriers to authority delegation that you should consider and some strategies that you could use to overcome those barriers:

Preference for Personal Task Handling

Managers often cling to tasks due to a belief in their superior performance. This desire to maintain control hampers delegation, limiting growth opportunities for the team. It creates a bottleneck that inhibits skill development among subordinates, ultimately hindering overall team productivity.

Insecurity and Fear of Underperformance

Managers fearing being outperformed by their subordinates experience feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. This fear stymies empowerment efforts, as managers hesitate to fully delegate tasks, potentially depriving the team of opportunities for growth and innovation.

Desire to Retain Power and Authority

By hoarding critical tasks, managers showcase their indispensability and retain control over decision-making processes. This approach, while asserting authority, hampers the development of their team’s capabilities, limiting their potential contributions.

Lack of Trust in Subordinates

Managers’ lack of confidence in their team leads to micromanagement or reluctance to delegate. This lack of trust hides the utilization of team potential, restricting professional growth and creating a cycle of underperformance among team members.

Disorganization and Lack of Structure

Unclear roles and ineffective task organization impede delegation efforts. When responsibilities aren’t clearly defined, team members feel uncertain about their contributions, leading to inefficiencies and a lack of empowerment within the team.

Personal Conflicts or Bias

Conflicts or biases between managers and team members disrupt the authority delegation process. Unfair treatment or biased task allocation demotivates team members, hindering their engagement and stifling their potential contributions to the team.

Read More: 8 Pros and 7 Cons of Authority Delegation

Fear of Failure

Subordinates’ apprehension about failing in new or additional responsibilities inhibits their acceptance of delegated tasks. This fear, amplified by an unsupportive environment, discourages risk-taking and the opportunity to learn from mistakes, hindering individual and team growth.

Inadequate Incentives

The absence of proper rewards or recognition from the organization dampens subordinates’ enthusiasm to take on additional responsibilities. New employees, especially, might feel disinclined to engage fully without clear incentives or rewards for their efforts.

Insufficient Resources or Facilities

When necessary tools or resources are lacking, employees might feel ill-equipped to handle delegated tasks. This scarcity hampers their ability to perform efficiently, leading to reluctance to accept additional responsibilities.

Read More: Characteristics of Authority Delegation

Size and Structure of the Organization

Smaller companies might lack clear delegation structures, causing confusion and uncertainty among employees about their roles. Conversely, larger organizations with complex hierarchies may foster insecurity and power struggles, hindering the delegation of authority processes.

Micromanagement Tendencies

Managers prone to micromanaging find it challenging to delegate tasks as they feel the need to oversee every detail. This inclination inhibits the empowerment of subordinates, stifling their growth and potential contributions.

Perceived Loss of Control

Fear of losing control over tasks discourages managers from delegating responsibilities. This reluctance stems from a concern that delegated tasks might not be handled as efficiently, leading to a hesitance in transferring authority.

Read More: Authority Vs. Power

Overburdened Managers

Managers overwhelmed by their own workload might refrain from delegation due to a lack of time or a belief that handling tasks themselves is more effective. This overload impedes their ability to effectively distribute tasks among team members.

Lack of Training and Development

A deficiency in training or developmental opportunities for subordinates can make managers hesitant to delegate. They fear their team may not possess the necessary skills to handle tasks competently, leading to a reluctance to share responsibilities.


Perfectionism is the last one on our list of 15 barriers to delegation of authority. A need for task perfection can hinder effective authority delegation, as managers might believe that nobody else can complete tasks to their exacting standards. This mentality limits the delegation of tasks and prevents the utilization of team potential.

Read More: Definition of Authority, Power, and Responsibility

Overcoming Barriers To Authority Delegation

Although various barriers come while delegating authority in the workplace – you can also use different strategies to reduce the amount of such barriers. Here are 7 strategies you might like to use:

Establish Clear Guidelines and Expectations

Create detailed guidelines and transparent expectations regarding task delegation. Clearly outline the scope of responsibilities, authority, and expected outcomes for each delegated task. This clarity helps alleviate fears and uncertainties among both managers and subordinates.

Foster a Culture of Trust and Open Communication

Promote an environment built on trust and open communication. Encourage dialogue between managers and subordinates to address concerns and build mutual trust. Establishing clear lines of communication allows for honest discussions about capabilities, concerns, and expectations, fostering a sense of confidence in delegation.

Provide Comprehensive Training and Support

Invest in continuous training and development programs for subordinates to enhance their skills and capabilities. Ensure they have the necessary resources, tools, and training to handle delegated tasks effectively. This support system empowers employees and instills confidence, making them more receptive to taking on additional responsibilities.

Read More: Time Departmentalization

Delegate According to Skills and Interests

Match tasks to the skills, interests, and strengths of individual team members. Understanding their capabilities and preferences allows for more strategic delegation. Assigning tasks aligned with their expertise not only improves task efficiency but also boosts morale and engagement.

Encourage Autonomy and Decision-Making

Grant autonomy and decision-making power to subordinates within defined parameters. Empowering them to make decisions fosters a sense of ownership and accountability. It also encourages innovative thinking and problem-solving, fostering growth and development within the team.

Recognize and Reward Achievements

Implement a robust reward and recognition system that acknowledges successful task completion and contributions. Offering praise, promotions, or tangible rewards for delegated tasks encourages employees to actively engage in their work, fostering a culture that values delegation and individual contributions.

Lead by Example

Managers should lead by example by actively participating in the delegation process. Demonstrating trust in subordinates, being open to feedback, and effectively delegating tasks themselves sets a positive precedent. When managers delegate effectively, it encourages their teams to do the same, creating a culture of collaboration and empowerment.

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