Delegating - how can you do it effectively?

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1 September 2017
Written by Speak First Linked-in icon

 As the calm of the summer break becomes a distant memory, I’ve already started to find myself going ‘I wish I had someone else who could pick up some of this work’.

Delegation can sometimes seem like the easy solution, but I’m sure many of us have cleared their to-do lists by handing it to someone else, just to find it back on there with even greater urgency when that person hasn’t had the time, skill or guidance to do it the way that’s needed.

Delegation if done right can be a great development and learning opportunity for other people, but done wrong it can be demotivating and leave everyone in a difficult position. Delegation is more than giving someone else a task and leaving them to it.

A manager discussing work with his team, delegating work to his subordinates

What can you delegate?
  • Tasks where you add little or no value/low yield
  • Tasks which other people can do better/faster etc
  • Tasks which will help others develop themselves


What shouldn’t you delegate?
  • Tasks you just don’t like doing (maybe they’re boring)
  • Staff/management issues e.g. lateness, underperformance
  • Complex, demanding tasks that only you can do really well
When do you delegate?
  • When you want to develop someone
  • When that person has the knowledge/skills required
  • When you want to test a person’s potential
  • When you have the time to delegate effectively
How to delegate?
  • Give the person adequate support
  • Empower – don’t micro-manage
  • Ensure you have delegation not abdication
  • Put in place checks and monitoring systems
  • Schedule review and feedback/lessons learnt
  • Give the person credit for their contribution
The delegation conversation
  • Discuss the idea with them and how they feel about taking on other tasks?
  • State clear limits of authority/responsibility.
  • Pay attention to the non-verbal elements