Don’t Take It Back (Part 3 of 4)

Don’t Take It Back (Part 3 of 4)

“My boss gave me work to do, with pretty specific instructions. When I went back to him to clarify something that I wasn’t sure about, he got very huffy and took the work back. He’s going to do it himself! I’m perfectly capable – I just had a question!”

Aaaargh! How would you feel if you were this employee? How frustrating to be given a task, to get it started, to correctly go and ask for clarification, and then to be punished for it by having the task pulled away from you!
In delegation, this is a cardinal sin. For your employees, the messages are:

  • Asking questions is wrong
  • You’re not competent
  • I don’t trust you
  • It’s easier to do it myself

From the employees viewpoint, if this is a regular occurrence, you’ll see lack of enthusiasm, lack of follow through, and inattention to detail.


Because you’re essentially training your employees to count on you taking work back. Why should they expend time, energy, and thought when they know you’ll be taking the work back?

So, what’s the solution? First, go back and read Parts 1 & 2 of this four-part post.

Then, remember that delegation is a four-part process:

  1. Outline the task
  2. Create milestones, expectations, timelines, due dates
  3. Provide feedback along the way
  4. Recognize and reward

Then, take a risk: ask your employees if they see you doing this. Ask for honest feedback and listen to their answers.

Finally, be alert for “taking things back” behavior when you delegate. If you find yourself getting frustrated with follow-up questions, feel the urge to take it back and “do it myself” – don’t! Your employees are capable, right? Else you wouldn’t have hired them! Give them the freedom and latitude and guidance to get the job done. But also give them room and permission to ask clarifying questions.

Need help creating a system for delegation? Working with the business owner, assistant, and/or team is a specialty for us at MBS, Inc. Call us to help clear the delegation fog and let’s get some great work done! (704) 553-8082 or

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