Are You A Work Hoarder?


Delegating is a necessary skill. When it comes to delegating how would you rate yourself?

The opposite of delegating – I call that work hoarding.

To hoard is to accumulate; to collect. It’s often done on the sly.

Maybe you’ve seen the show “Hoarders: Buried Alive” on TLC. If you haven’t seen the show, let me bring you up to speed. It’s about people in personal crisis who accumulate all sorts of items. And because they aren’t able to get rid of anything, including nonessential items and trash, many of the rooms in their homes are filled to the brim with what appears to be junk. Even worse, what they have accumulated often attracts unwanted creatures, leaving their homes unsanitary.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched an episode of “Hoarders: Buried Alive.” The excessive amount of clutter the hoarders accumulate stresses me out. And sadly, the abundance of stuff significantly limits them in nearly every aspect of their lives.

Driving a hoarder: fear, grief, and some funky beliefs and ways of thinking.

Work Hoarding

In my conversations with leaders, professionals, and entrepreneurs, I frequently hear how reluctant they are to let go of their work-related responsibilities. The inability to delegate leaves little room for relationships, growth, leisure, and so much more!

Fear is a big contributor to work hoarding – fear of failure, fear of not being important, fear of not being in control, or fear of ___________. We each have different fears that entice us to add more and more without relinquishing responsibilities.

Our funky thinking and beliefs also don’t help. Believing that delegating tasks makes you less valuable or more dispensable just isn’t true. Neither is thinking that no one else will do that task as well as you do it. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t have the time needed to train others to assume some of your responsibilities.

Whatever story you are telling yourself to justify work hoarding, it’s time to address those funky thoughts and beliefs! It’s time to face those fears.

Are You A Work Hoarder?

There’s no mistaking a hoarder like those featured in the TV show – the evidence is all around them. Work hoarding on the other hand is a little trickier to spot. Here are a few clues that you might be a work hoarder:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Focusing on the urgent and letting it dictate your day rather than planning, organizing, strategizing, or developing your team
  • A lack of energy and motivation from your team
  • Perpetually working and skipping vacations and/or not using your days off
  • Letting important things fall through the cracks
  • Failing to follow up
  • Neglecting your relationships, health, development, self-care. etc.
  • Putting delegating on the back burner

A Better Way!

If you suspect you might be a “work hoarder” then perhaps the benefits of delegating will inspire you to ditch a few of your duties. Check out these awesome perks: Delegating…

1. Builds Trust

Have you ever thought about the message are you sending the people around you when you do it all? Your actions are letting them know you don’t think they are capable or up to the challenge – that you don’t have confidence in them.

Delegating, on the other hand, demonstrates that you believe in your people and know that they are up to the challenge – especially if you invest the time necessary to set them up for success.

The bonus: not only does it build trust; they also learn and grow and so does their confidence!

2. Equips & Develops Your People

Your people want to learn, grow, and take on new challenges! Delegating naturally allows them to do all of that and it’s empowering too!

“Leaders who are strongest at delegation are those who are dedicated to using the tasks that come across their desks as development opportunities for others.” Clemson Turregano

3. Saves Time

Turning over an area of responsibility to someone else successfully does take time upfront. Delegating is a skill to be practiced and developed and one that comes more easily the more you do it. So yes, it does take time in the short run, however, in the long run it saves you all kinds of time! And as you hand off different responsibilities, your team is better equipped.

A few tips:

      • Communicate your expectations clearly upfront – what would success look like? What outcome are you looking for?
      • Follow up periodically, not to micromanage, but to help answer any questions they might have or to assist them in working through problems they’ve encountered. This is an excellent opportunity for you to practice your ability to coach them through the process by asking great questions.
      • Offer feedback – what did they do well? What needs to improve?

4. Improves Your Productivity

As you delegate more and more, you are freed up to engage more in the aspects of your work that only you can do. That’s when your productivity begins to soar! And in an environment rich with planning, strategy, innovation, etc., your team will soar too!

5. Increases Your Value

Delegating responsibilities doesn’t make you less valuable, it makes you more valuable. Others view you as an expert and eager to develop others. That makes you more valuable. Then with time freed up, you are able to accomplish more of the right tasks!

As John Maxwell says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

6. Enhances Your Focus

As a leader, professional, or entrepreneur, your focus needs to be on the big picture and imagining what’s possible. It’s tough to be innovative and dream when you are buried in work.

Planning and strategizing takes time, and it is a large part of what having a key role is about.

Developing and utilizing your people’s strengths most effectively also won’t happen when you are rushing form one task to another.

Delegating frees you up to focus on what needs to happen to move your company or organization forward.

7. Encourages Better Outcomes

Even though you might think your way of executing a task is the best way to do it, delegating invites new thoughts, ideas, and ways of getting them done that actually might be better!

8. Keeps YOU Sane!

Let’s face it, a frazzled burned-out leader isn’t a very effective leader.  Besides, doing too much is stressful and exhausting not to mention it has a negative impact on your health!

Delegating not only enables you to work more sustainably, but it also keeps you sane!

Deterrents To Delegating

If delegating was easy, there would be no need to address it here, right? Everyone would be doing it!

Delegating is a skill you can learn to do. It takes practice to do it successfully and it also very worth the effort.

Yet in spite of all the many benefits, there are some very real reasons why you might resist delegating including…

  • Perfectionism – you want it done right.
  • Control issues – you want it done your way.
  • Time troubles – always putting out fires leaving no time to hand off tasks.
  • Trust problems– not feeling confident in the abilities of others.
  • Fear!
  • Confidence issues – doubting your ability to successfully delegate
  • Impostor Syndrome – clinging to what you know to avoid stepping into what you don’t know.
  • Role confusion – now sure what your real priority is and/or how to better use the time you would gain

What keeps you from delegating?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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