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Successful Delegation

This month we are going to follow-up the Time Management tip we sent in March with a discussion about successfully delegating the jobs you don't have to do yourself.

Successful Delegation

A couple of months ago we looked at Time Management. Hopefully, you've now had the opportunity to practice some of the tips which help you to manage your time more effectively.

If not, we hope it's because you already manage your time well.

One of the tips was to delegate, which helps by freeing you up to focus on the matters that really do require your attention. It also helps to develop your teams by enabling them to use their abilities to the greatest extent.

Why Delegate?

As you probably know, delegation means giving a certain amount of power to someone else to make decisions and complete activities. What you may not know is that by sharing this responsibility, you enable individuals to grow and to further develop their knowledge, skills and abilities.

Sure, there will be times when, as a manager, you feel that you will save time or effort by simply completing a task or project on your own. Avoid the temptation to do this. The most effective leaders understand that just as they themselves must continue to grow, they must help their teams to reach their fullest potential.

Good delegation is a vital management skill, which takes a certain amount of know-how and practice. It stimulates your team members, while allowing you to focus on the high value issues that only you can deal with. Delegation is a strong win-win tool, without which no leader can be truly successful.

Know the Task, Know the People, Manage by Exception

The art of delegation is to clearly define what is to be done, when it is to be done and other criteria for the work. Then let them get on with it, but keep yourself informed to the right extent.

  • Be clear about the specifics of the task to be delegated. Think through the details of the work; how it fits into the wider picture; the objectives and timescales.
  • Know your team members. It's important to know the experience, knowledge and skills of the individual as they apply to the delegated task. What are their strengths and their development needs?
  • Understand how the individual works best. Know what they want from their job and what they aspire to.
  • Check the person's current workload. Make sure they have time available.
  • Be clear about the task/project's timelines/deadlines. Check how much time there is available.
  • Consider resources for the individual. What do they need to do the job?
  • Your expectations or goals for the project. What quality are you expecting.
  • Understand your role in ensuring success. You may need to coach, monitor and support the individual.
  • Set-up mechanisms for controlling and monitoring the job. Agree when and how you want to be updated.

Management By Exception

This is a term that describes how the best delegation works. You define a task and the frequency of updates, but insist on being told immediately the task goes off course.

"Get on with this, except if there's a problem, then let me know"

This means you can concentrate on other things because you will be told as soon as there's a problem (notably regarding time), and if there's no problem, you don't need to interfere.

Checklist for Delegating

When you are delegating remember these things:

  • Brief your team member appropriately. Don't forget to take time to explain why they were chosen for the job.
  • Do not delegate all the boring or mundane tasks - remember it's about incentivising your teams to develop.
  • Explain the required results/outcomes and set clear parameters.
  • Agree all timelines including a schedule for checking-in with progress updates.
  • Eliminate misunderstanding - check the understanding of the person you are delegating to.
  • Make the person's authority clear.
  • Be prepared for the individual to come up with their own ideas on how to complete the task - they may be different to your own!
  • Don't keep interfering!
  • Offer support and guidance.
  • Ensure regular review and feedback.
  • Be positive and praise the individual as they make good progress.


  • Don't delegate all the boring and mundane jobs - your colleagues won't benefit, and you'll get a reputation for dumping
  • Don't keep interfering
  • Don't expect too much - if it's critical, do it yourself

Can you bear to lose control?

Delegation doesn't mean that we abdicate control altogether. In delegating effectively, we have to find a balance between giving enough space for people to use their abilities to best effect, whilst still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively.

These tips will help you to delegate effectively, manage your time better and develop your teams.

Finally, remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success. When you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.

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