Do you find that you get less done in the day because you are bombarded by interruptions?  Do you sometimes get to the end of the day and find that although you’ve been unbelievably busy, you’re not sure what you’ve actually done?

The issue might be that your staff and possibly your colleagues are upwardly delegating to you. For a number of reasons, they are coming to you for advice, help, or answers.  Although you want to be helpful and do the right thing for the team, it is starting to impact on your ability to get anything done.

The first thing then, to do is recognise when someone is potentially upwardly delegating to you and to quickly analyse why they are doing so.  The answer will pretty much always be one of the following:

  • They’re too busy to do it themselves
  • They’re too lazy to do it themselves
  • They don’t have the experience/knowledge/confidence to do it themselves

Having decided which of these categories they fall in to, you can choose how to react accordingly.


They’re too busy to do it themselves

This is difficult, but the honest answer here is that you’re almost certainly too busy too.  On occasion, when someone else is up against a major deadline, then obviously it’s great to help them out.  However it does tend to be the same people who find themselves in this position and if you constantly help dig them out of a hole, they will never learn to climb out in other ways.

If they are one of your reports, then from a business point of view, does it make sense for the more expensive resource (you) to be doing their work?  Can they delegate it to someone more junior? Does it need to be done at all, or are there other things on their to do list that they can delete, or delegate?


Click here if they might benefit from the 4Ds of Time Management


They’re too lazy to do it themselves

If you have concluded that they are just looking to off-load the work, then this is a problem. Not just because they aren’t pulling their weight, but more because they are being disrespectful of your time pressures and the priorities which you need to focus on.

If this is the case, you have to find polite ways to say no.


Click here for suggestions on how to (professionally) say No to people


They don’t have the experience / knowledge / confidence to do it themselves

 This is the biggest trap of all three. You know it won’t get done (or get done right) without your input and you don’t want to hang them out to dry.  That’s fine, but you have to make sure that you coach and direct them, ensuring that they do as much of the work as possible.  The key thing here is that they learn and they build confidence so that they will need less support next time.

Never use the justification “It’ll be quicker for me to do it rather than investing the time training them up”.  The equation just doesn’t stack up when you factor in them coming back to you every time they need to do it.


Click here for a link to delegating more effectively

Click here to minimise interruptions