Effective Delegation

Effective delegation is a tool of management and time management. However, many managers do not delegate effectively. Therefore, delegation fails. The manager usually blames their team member or delegatee for the task/activity not being completed or delivered to the standards required, on budget and/or on time. The result being that managers delegation does not happen or managers delegate to the same person all the time! Typical reasons given include:

  • It's quicker to do it yourself
  • Your can't trust them
  • They have no interest
  • You have to redo it at the end so you might as well do it yourself from the start

Have you used any of these reasons or others?

How do you Delegate Effectively?

With good planning, organising and communication skills you will be able to delegate effectively. If the task is not completed as required then it is possible that you did not delegate well! Effective delegation is a skill and therefore does take practice. The following will help you develop this important skill.


  • Know exactly what needs to be done, be able to describe the end result to the delegatee in terms of specifications, level of detail required, how the result will be used and by whom, what exactly needs to be in place, deadline, budgets. If you can't describe this then it will be more difficult for the delegatee to have the same picture or understanding of the end result as you. The two may end up being very different!
  • Determine the level of skills, knowledge, experience required to identify who is the right person to delegate to. If you delegate effectively you are also facilitating the learning, development, growth and engagement of your team members.
  • Identify who to delegate to and what training and coaching they will require if any.
  • Match the task/activity to be delegated to the most suitable person based on a number of criteria: Time, training and/or coaching required, natural skills and strengths and fit with career development, current workload.

Step 2: Delegate in Advance using effective communication

  • Give adequate time for the delegatee to review the task, clarify their understanding of the requirements and develop a plan.
  • Use effective communication skills. This includes planning how to explain the task to the individual, using effective two-way communication by allowing them to ask questions, actively listening to their comments, concerns, allowing them to paraphrase their understanding of the task and expectations and summarising what has been agreed.

Have progress update meetings

  • Depending on the size, complexity, experience and length of the task/activity delegated you will need to have progress update meetings. The meeting ensures that the task is moving in the right direction, that they are on the right track and allows changes to be made at appropriate stages before it is too late.
  • Agree times for progress update meetings and stick to them.
  • Allow the delegatee to run their progress update meetings.
  • Practice effective communication skills - lsitening to their update and openly discussing any concerns or difficulties they may be experiencing.
  • Encourage the person to come up with solutions to problems, discussing it with them. Do not make the mistake of taking problems on board yourself and completing. However, do agree any support that you need to give them.
  • Give constructive feedback.

Be patient

  • Recognise that it may take longer for the task to be completed initially than doing it 100% yourself. However, you are still spending less of your time completing the task. Therefore you have more time to focus on tasks only you can do.

The Importance of Delegation

What is the importance of delegation in the workplace?

  • It frees you up to work on tasks that only you can do
  • It develops your team
  • Your team are motivated as each person is being challenged, stimulated, working on tasks that gives them a sense of responsibility and recognition
  • You are achieving results through your team
  • You have time to give to your own development and growth

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