Originally posted 12/16/2018.  Updated 1/4/2021.

I can’t believe that it has been four years since my last blog post about effective delegation.  I find this fact surprising because effective delegation within a business is one of the most important foundations of long-term success.  Without delegation at all levels of a team, the company and team members will not maximize each of their potential to create value for themselves, their customers (clients or patients), their company, their market and their community.

Following are the ten keys to effective and successful delegation:

  1. Present the desired result and confirm it is fully understood. If you ever listened to your pilot communicating with air traffic control while flying, you would have noticed that the pilot doesn’t just acknowledge the controller’s instruction.  The pilot always repeats the instruction back to the controller.  That insures the instruction was fully understood.  When you delegate, it is imperative that the person you are delegating to, repeats the desired result back to you.  Ask questions to make sure that there is complete understanding of the desired result.
  2. Present guidelines or limits as to how the result is to be achieved. Define the “playing field,” their authority to contact, direct or contract with other departments or outside resources they may need.  The company’s CPA or attorney for example.  Is the project or task confidential?  If so, what level of confidentiality is to be followed.
  3. Discuss the resources that are available. Budget, team, equipment or space must be clearly defined.
  4. Establish a timeline. Discuss time constraints or deadlines, both internal and external.  In situations where there is flexibility, buy-in can be achieved by asking “When can you have this completed?”
  5. Make yourself available if assistance is needed and requested. Make it clear to the delegatee that you are available if they ask for assistance.  And make it clear that such a request will not be held against them.  One common example of required assistance is to overcome the resistance of people in other departments within a company to respond to the delegatee because they do not have a high enough title.
  6. Set accountability and KPI’s to measure progress toward the goal. You cannot manage something if it is not measured.  Setting measurements supports Key 8 and eliminate disappointment and surprises.
  7. Discuss the consequences both good and bad related to the desired result. This is the opportunity to present why the desired result is important.
  8. Periodically follow up. Without follow up questions, such as “How’s it going?” or “Are you on schedule?” or similar, there is only abdication, not delegation.  I have observed many instances of failure due to lack of follow up.
  9. Delegate Authority and Responsibility not just the Task. Giving a task to a team member without giving them the authority to command the necessary resources nor the responsibility to get it done, is NOT DELEGATION.
  10. Do not Jump-In to rescue. You may need to assist when a project goes off the rails.  However, if you jump-in and take the project over, you are doomed to having this repeat on future projects.

“Successful delegation has more to with the delegator … not the one being delegated to.” – Darren Hardy

The ActionCOACH DelegationRICH workshop expands and details this subject.  If you want to get leverage of your and your team’s time, knowledge and talents, my colleagues and I will be happy to assist you to become a world class delegator.

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About the author,

Certified, Award Winning Executive, Leadership and Business Coach - My mission is to assist as many business executives and owners as possible to leverage their talents and experience for the purpose of maximizing the value they bring to their markets, teams, families, and communities.