7 Solutions to Effective Delegation

7 Solutions to Effective Delegation


You’re under pressure, your to-do list is mounting and there is just not enough time in your day to get through what needs to be done. You know you need help: this is a double edge sword considering you can’t even find a minute to breathe never mind delegate. You will probably end up with an unfavourable result which will just leave you more frustrated. You don’t want to redo everything again, so what is the point of delegating?

According to the Oxford Dictionary – the noun “delegation” refers to entrusting authority to. This means that in order to delegate, one needs to:

  • Empower someone else to take over a specific task
  • Trust them to run with the task according to a communicated specification

7 Solutions to effective delegation:

  1. Only use delegation for repeat tasks. If a task will take you 2 minutes to do, just get on with it and do it yourself. However, if the task is a repeat task that crosses your desk daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or even annually, it’s probably worth your energy and time to delegate it now to enjoy the freedom of passing it along in the future.
  2. Stop the assumptions. Just because you had an unfavourable result when delegating in the past, doesn’t mean you can’t get it right in the future. Effective delegation requires clear instructions (how, what, why, where, by when). If you have not included all these steps in your instructions, it is not surprising you’ve been dissatisfied with the results in the past.
  3. Tell “what” needs to be done. This is the easy part for most of us but think ‘detail’ instead of ‘big picture’ so you can be ensured of a more favourable outcome.
  4. Build accountability and desire by communicating the “why”. Autocracy seldom enjoys employee buy-in, so instead of assuming that the delegatee is free and available to tackle your task, check their priority schedule first to see if your request is of greater value to the organisation at large. If they understand that the reason the report needs to be done yesterday even though you are only giving it to them to do today, your chances of a positive outcome is greater.
  5. Explain the “how” to prevent wasted time and poor delivery. We are all different and therefore what would be a logical and favourable result for you might not be the outcome delivered. The “how” means getting clear on what you want the outcome to look like. Are you looking for 5 big picture overview bullet points or a thesis? Do you need the bells and whistles, PowerPoint presentation or would a hand scribbled note suffice? If you don’t take the time to explain this point clearly you might find your team member wasting valuable time researching when all you required was a knee-jerk reaction. This one point alone costs companies millions in wasted time (read: money).
  6. Communicate “when” the task is due. If your team member is a perfectionist or last minute racer, pad the due date to protect yourself. In most circumstances though, once you have built a relationship of team engagement and accountability through explaining points 3-5 above, requesting the required task back with a small time buffer for review is in most cases more than adequate.
  7. Stick to your boundaries. If you are presented a result that doesn’t match your requirements, go back to the delegate and request them to rework the content in line with the brief you supplied. Check with yourself to make sure you have delegated the task properly the first time around and question if next time a written request might deliver more favourable results than the verbal alternative you chose. This way you will grow your team dynamic and the individual will learn to pay more attention to the desired outcome next time around.

Taking some time out of your busy schedule today to properly explain what you want by when and how as this can save you valuable time in the long run. Time, once lost, can never be replaced.

Tracey Foulkes
Tracey Foulkes wows audiences with her sharp wit, quick reactions and personable sense of humour. She speaks about procrastination, business productivity, personal motivation and time management. . If you want your team to be inspired to operate outside of the box, contact her for a complimentary productivity assessment, email tracey@getorganised.co or find her on Twitter as Tracey Foulkes or on LinkedIn as Tracey Foulkes.