Monday, April 15, 2024

Delegation and Anxiety

What frequently stops us from delegating responsibilities to our employees is a fear that they may fail us. However, this distrust of our employees can be more damaging than failure itself. Living in fear keeps our lives in holding patterns, and we never grow or allow others to grow. There is no reason to be afraid of failure because it is inevitable. If, however, we are able to view failure as a learning opportunity, then we can become comfortable with the idea and learn to take risks. Here are some suggestions to help you manage your trepidation about delegation:

  • Write down your concerns rather than voicing them or allowing them to swirl in your head. This can help to vent anxieties.
  • Manage your stress levels through exercise. When you do this regularly, you will tend to feel better physically which gives emotions such as anxiety less room to take hold.
  • Meditate regularly to practice staying in the present. Worry is a future-oriented activity but one over which you have little control.
  • Appreciate and celebrate healthy progress over perfection. Our notion of a perfect situation, a perfectly performed task, or any other number of perfect things that we can imagine is actually a linguistic construction. Actual perfection is something that is completely beyond our control.
  • Learn to recognize and counteract magnification -- a distorted thinking pattern in which you imagine the worst possibility as the most likely possibility. Often, when you feel in the grips of an arousal emotion such as anxiety, you tend to think in shorthand and images rather than in complete sentences. Identifying this shorthand, converting it into complete sentences and investigating the logic of that can help lessen your feeling of anxiety. For example, when you delegate an important task to an employee, your anxiety over the situation might prompt shorthand thoughts such as “failure, disaster, poorhouse.” Translating this into a complete sentence might look like “If my employee fails, I will be blamed for the worst possible disaster that can occur at this company, and I will be fired.” Now that you have translated the shorthand into a complete sentence, ask yourself if you would truly be fired over this. Often, you wouldn’t have the level of responsibility you have if your boss was going to be so quick to fire you.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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