The right way to delegate


Your in-box is overflowing, you have a million unfinished jobs, there’s a huge deadline looming – so, it’s time to delegate a few bits and bobs, right?

Um, no… you may feel marginally better about how much you have to do, but this approach is not a great strategy in the long term. How engaged will your team member be by a few titbits sent their way when you’re too busy?

True delegation involves handing over responsibility for a suitable task and trusting your report to get it done beautifully.

Managers often don’t delegate fully because they are fearful of what could happen when they do

Do you find yourself thinking ‘It’s quicker to do x, y or z myself’? Are you concerned about losing control of a project or not getting exactly what you want? Do you feel some things are too important to delegate?

When you plan your delegation strategy you’ll find these fears start to disappear. It may take extra effort at the start but the rewards are huge. You’re able to be less transactional and more strategic and your team is more engaged and committed because they’ve learned new skills through a development opportunity.

Great delegation is about finding the point between abandoning responsibility altogether and hovering over their every move – creating the perfect win-win.

How to delegate successfully

  • Think about exactly what you’d like to delegate. The best jobs are those that re-occur so you are training someone up to take over completely
  • Consider what impact delegating this task effectively will have on you and your workload
  • Ask yourself what is really important about the task? What is key to get right? Get this message across
  • Consider what training or support will be needed for your staff member to be able to perform
  • Think about what you learned in previously doing this task that you can pass on
  • Make sure you are both clear about what success will look like. What end result do you want?delegation_cropped
  • Agree a support and feedback process. Do they check in and then act, or act then check in? Do you want email updates or a weekly meeting? What extra resources do they need? Will they need to drop other work?
  • Ensure you both know the final deadline, and any key interim dates but don’t delegate the process, delegate getting the end result. Micro-managing your delegated work defeats the purpose
  • Make sure you leave time for mistakes and rewrites. They may be on a steep learning curve
  • Reward success, maybe by delegating a second project – and remember to give credit for great work.


We can learn from each other. I encourage you to share your experiences of delegating with other readers by commenting in the box below.

Katie Duckworth supports third sector organisations to improve management and leadership skills, including how to delegate successfully. Call me on 0208 772 7808 or contact me here for a no-obligation chat about how I can help you or your teams.





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