The temptation of reverse delegation (Guest Commentary)

Nobody wins when managers take back the work they’ve doled out
By Evert Akkerman
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/17/2015

We’ve all seen situations where managers delegate a task to an employee and then end up doing the work themselves, either because they take the assignment back or they allow the employee to give it back. This phenomenon is called reverse delegation. When this occurs, organizations make less-than-optimum use of their human resources.


Bosses who delegate work and then take assignments back from their staff are like parents who say to their kids “Here, I’ll do it for you” or “Forget it, I can do it faster myself.” In a work environment, this leads to two negative learning outcomes: 1) the employee doesn’t learn how to handle the task independently and 2) the employee learns that the boss doesn’t trust her to do a good job.