Delegate or die!

Proper delegation enhances trust and commitment within your team, improves productivity, and ensures the right people are performing tasks that best suit them. When done well it will inspire loyalty, provide satisfaction for completed work, and become the basis for ongoing development.

What to delegate

There are several reasons why managers don’t delegate. One of the most common is that managers aren’t sure what to delegate. Consider these guidelines when trying to decide what should be delegated:


Do you perform tasks that you could easily train someone else to do? If a task is entirely trainable, in that it doesn’t require your expertise, it’s a prime candidate for delegation.


These are little things that take a small amount of time to complete but add up over time. These might be things a support person could do, such as: scheduling meetings, answering the phone, basic ordering of supplies, or data entry.


These are repetitive tasks, such as counting stock items, or routine set up and pack-down procedures in a venue. Tedious tasks require little skill and can be easily delegated.

Time consuming

If you perform a task regularly that takes a lot of time, look for opportunities to delegate segments of that task to others. These are opportunities to break work into smaller chunks and assign portions of the work to others.

Terrible at

Maybe you have no digital marketing skills, so it takes you six times as long to create graphics for a campaign as it would a skilled designer. It’s better to delegate that task to someone who’s more equipped to complete the work more quickly and to a higher standard.

Time sensitive

Maybe you just don’t have enough time to complete a project with a looming deadline on your own. It’s time to find ways to delegate parts of it to other members of your team.

Tethered to

You may have pet projects from your days as a team member, but it’s no longer your job to complete those tasks. It’s time to train someone else how to do it for you.

If do an honest audit of all the tasks that you perform at work using the above list, you’ll quickly realise there are very few things that can’t be delegated.


Here are some tips for making delegation a positive experience for everyone involved . . .

  1. Choose the right person for the job

A good leader understands their team’s strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. If you need to delegate a task that is going to require a lot of collaboration to complete, don’t delegate it to someone who very strongly prefers working alone. Delegate it to someone who’s a good collaborator.

Once you have a list of tasks you’re looking to delegate, why not sit down with your team, go through the list, and let people self-select the tasks they’re most interested in taking over?

  1. Explain why you’re delegating

When you select people to delegate to, tell them why you chose them specifically and how you see it help them develop new skills and take on more responsibilities. You must be able to explain the benefits. Just saying, “I don’t want to do this is anymore”, doesn’t cut it.

  1. Focus on the outcome rather than the process

A good delegator provides basic and important information without micromanaging. Delegate results rather than methods. Explain the goals or the milestones you want them to hit and let them tackle the problem in their own way. Don’t expect perfection or micromanage; others might approach a task differently to the way you would. If they deliver the result you’re looking for, that’s okay.

  1. Provide resources and training

You have to make sure the person tasked with a job or project has the tools and resources they need to be successful. A good training rule of thumb is ‘I do, we do, you do’ (i.e. watch me do this, then let’s do it together, now you try).

  1. Delegate responsibility, authority, and accountability

If a person has been tasked with something but isn’t fully empowered to make decisions, they end up having to ask for help. The work then stalls and the task takes more time from both the employee and the manager.

Managers who fail to delegate responsibility, authority, and accountability eventually find themselves reporting to their subordinates and doing some of the work, rather than vice versa.

Foster an environment where people feel they’re able to make decisions, ask questions, and take the necessary steps to complete the work. Make it safe for people to make mistakes – that’s often where the most valuable learning occurs.

  1. Follow-up and provide feedback

Check the work when it’s complete and provide any feedback needed to improve when handling the task going forward.

  1. Give praise and say thanks

When someone completes a project you’ve delegated, show genuine appreciation and point out specific things they did well. When you note those specifics, you’re giving people a roadmap for what they should continue to do to be successful.

There are some excellent practical tips on cross-checking and follow-up here.


The takeaway

As a manager, a lot more is expected of you than you can physically achieve yourself. Effective delegation is an excellent staff training and motivational tool. It will allow you to spend time on important strategic issues – that’s what managers are paid to do.


Chris Lambert