5 Successful Components of Delegation

Delegation is one of the most critical skills you can learn as a leader. Not only does it effectively train your team and give them ownership of the work you’re doing together, but it’s like adding extra hours to your day. Delegation allows you to get multiple tasks on your to-do list completed at the same time.

Considering handing over tasks to other team members can seem intimidating at first. The real process of delegating goes beyond simply asking a team member to add an item to their to-do list, though. Successful delegation involves five critical steps to ensure that the work you surrender gets done correctly, on time, and without a lot of hands-on time from you. Here are the 5 key components for successful delegation.

1. Give the job to someone who can get it done.

The first step in delegating is, of course, actually asking someone else to take on the job for you. The right person must have time in their schedule. They don’t need to know how to complete the task already. What you’re looking for instead is someone who has access to the resources needed for the job. They may need training or coaching first, so factor that time into your plan. If the training takes a short time and the task is recurring, making the time to bring the employee up to speed makes a great investment.

Try not to stress too much about this step in the process. Think of delegating like giving someone on your team a gift. You’re offering them a chance to increase their skills and improve their value to the team.

2. Communicate Precise Conditions of Satisfaction.

One of the reasons people hesitate to delegate their work is worries about the task being completed incorrectly or remaining unfinished. The best way to combat this issue is with clear communication of expectations. Be sure to outline the deadline, budget, context, deliverables and any special circumstances. Ask your teammate to summarize to you what they heard you ask for. This helps ensure that you communicated your needs effectively and that they feel confident.

Also make sure you clarify how you both want to handle any questions they may have about the task. Do you want them to bring those questions to you? In person? Email? Is there a different person on the team who has expertise who would also be a good resource if you’re unavailable to answer questions?

Putting all of these expectations in writing is a good idea, too. That way you can both refer back to the document or email and see specifically what was discussed. Depending on memory alone can get dicey, especially when we’re juggling lots of other tasks or projects.

3. Work out a plan.

If the project or task that you’re delegating is simple, then this step may be very easy. If it’s a multi-step process, you may need to spend a little more time breaking down the project into steps to be completed.

Whenever possible, have your employee construct the plan for the project. They may surprise you with their ingenuity, and coming up with a strategy reinforces employee buy-in, something we’ll talk more about in a minute.

4. Get Buy-in.

One critical but often overlooked component of delegation is employee buy-in. Does your teammate think it’s possible to complete the task with the information you’ve given them? Does the timeline seem reasonable to them?

At first, these may seem like unimportant considerations. After all, sometimes deadlines are fixed by customer needs. Asking the employee whether they have everything they need to proceed also reinforces your communication with them. And asking the question, “Can you get this done by Friday?” gives the employee an opportunity to raise any concerns they have with the timeline.

5. Set up a Structure for Accountability.

Consider the length and complexity of the project. Decide how often and in what format you wish to be informed about the progress of the task. Maybe it’s as simple as adding a check-in to an already scheduled weekly meeting. You might prefer email updates or status reports. If the project is complex or sensitive, a personal meeting may be more effective.

Whatever the case, decide together on the format you will track progress. Follow up with them how and when you’ve agreed you will. When employees know you’re serious about the accountability systems you’ve set up, they are much more likely to meet those expectations.

Become a Delegating Pro.

There are never enough hours in the day to complete all the tasks we want to, which is why delegation is such a powerful tool. At KCC, we have a whole training session focused on developing employees through delegation. This session teaches you the key steps to efficiently empower and develop your employees.

Check out our training on Developing Employees Through Delegation and get best practices and tips to boost your team’s effectiveness and success.

If you prefer, we can coach you or your employees. We have a team of ICF certified coaches ready to help. You can book a free exploration call here for more information.

Ingrid Kelada and the KCC Team

Owner of KCC Positive Business Psychology & Happiness Expert