I recently read a post in Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper about how to better delegate responsibilities.

This was a timely read, as I had just spoken with a farrier whose experience with delegation resulted in being fired from a barn. The summary: the barn manager/owner doesn’t want the farrier calling the boarders. The farrier called a boarder regarding a direct email question about the trimming cycle. When the manager heard this, he hit the roof and fired the farrier over the phone. Why? The farrier committed the cardinal sin of contacting a client directly. The barn manager/owner wouldn’t listen to the farrier’s side of the story.

A few points that I think are worth mentioning: the boarders love the quality of hoof care that this farrier provided, the boarders pay the farrier directly and the owner/manager is not a trained hoof-care professional. So why should the manager get in the middle of every important hoof-care discussion?

Certainly this is an extreme case, but is still an example of how the perceived leader’s inability to delegate responsibility causes more problems than good. Yes, you want someone who is involved with the hoof-care team, but not one who gets in the way of the duties of other on that team.

There are several reasons why poor managers feel the need to micromanage. Usually, I find these ineffective managers are scared that by allowing others to shine, it will make them look less valuable to higher management or clients. That makes attaining a goal tough, with one member putting his/her needs above the team’s. If I had to bet, I’d say that this barn manager falls into this category. Little does he realize that his boarders care more for how the horses are cared for, rather than who drives the effort.

Communication would be the obvious answer to resolving this type of situation. Good luck with that, as you have to rationalize with an extremely unreasonable person.

Instead, there won’t be a happy ending here. The farrier must replace several accounts and lost income. The owners and their horses now have compromised hoof care. And although the manager may not realize it, he’s lost the confidence and trust of those boarders. When the number of empty stalls begins to climb, that manager will have learned a very tough lesson about delegation.