Six tips for better delegating

Allow enough time

Despite your busy schedule, you must allow enough time for delegating the task.

  • Give the process of delegating your full attention and make sure the other person does the same.
  • Organize your schedule to allow for an unhurried and thorough meeting, where you explain the task, convey the essential information, discuss it, respond to questions, and check to make sure the person fully comprehends.
  • Allow plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Communicate all necessary details

Approach this aspect of delegating by asking yourself, "What would someone who has never done this job before need to know?"

  • Explain both what needs to be done and why the task is important.
  • Err on the side of providing too much information rather than too little.
  • Note that in some situations, you may only need a brief overview while in others you might want to provide a detailed written description.
  • Recognize that the level of detail to provide depends greatly on the person, their skills, and the complexity of the task.
  • Provide all necessary background information the person requires to do a good job.
  • Explain the results you expect and the standards that must be met.
  • Explain the deadlines involved and any constraints that apply as well as how flexible or firm they are.
  • Provide the rationale behind any requirements and how the task fits in to the bigger picture.
  • Explain how progress monitoring will take place.
  • Don't assume other people have the same understanding of a task.
  • Let the person know about any limits on authority and resources as well as the milestones and deadlines for completion.

Focus on outcomes

Avoid imposing your methods on the person you've delegated to. Give them freedom to act.

  • Let the person decide how to achieve the results you need.
  • Only discuss methods if some things are currently working well and others aren't, if certain procedures are required, or if the person you are delegating to is inexperienced.

Check understanding

You can only determine understanding if you get comprehensive answers to your questions.

  • Ask open-ended questions to ensure understanding.
  • Ask for a summary as another way of getting a comprehensive answer.
  • Encourage questions from the person you're delegating to.

Provide encouragement

People need to feel you trust them and that they are likely to succeed.

  • Close your initial meeting on a positive note.
  • Let the person know you trust them and you're confident.
  • Thank them for taking on the task.
  • Offer to be available for further help if needed.
  • Show appreciation as the task is being completed. Thank the person, reward progress at follow-up meetings, and give public praise.

Review and monitor progress

Passing responsibility for a task to someone is no guarantee of results. You must keep some control to ensure success while allowing the person the opportunity to deliver on their own.

  • Check in only at regularly scheduled intervals. Sticking to the schedule helps avoid the impression of lack of trust.
  • Provide ongoing support and guidance. When you say you are available, be available.
  • Use open-ended questions to learn how the work is going and head off potential problems.
  • When problems arise, help the person recognize them and implement solutions rather than stepping in and taking over.
  • Show your appreciation.