How To Successfully Delegate

One of the key things holding back a manager is their inability to effectively delegate.  Delegation not only gives your team the opportunity to grow, it also frees you up to work on more strategic things.


What we typically hear from managers is that they are reluctant to delegate important projects because they believe only they have the ability to do it right. This attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the subordinate never gets the opportunity to work on “stretch” assignments and therefore isn’t able to grow.


The reality is that, if you delegate effectively by making sure people are set up to succeed, your team members will be able take on big assignments.



Here’s our “Take Five” on how to successfully delegate:


  1. Be Clear – Make sure you clearly define the project for the person who will be working on it.  They must understand the parameters of the project, the timing, their level of authority and what you expect as an end result of their efforts.  The clearer you are, the greater the odds are of success.   
  2. Check-in – At intervals during the project, have the person check in to update you on their progress and discuss any obstacles they are encountering. This is a teaching opportunity for you to give them guidance without actually doing the work for them. The employee will appreciate the input and the fact that you are not “taking over” the project.  This gives you the peace of mind to know that things are on track.
  3. Inform Others – Make sure to let others who are involved in the project know who you have delegated it to and that they have the authority to act accordingly.    This reinforces the authority you have given.
  4. Hands Off – Many managers make the mistake of delegating but not letting go.  They get sucked in either by others or by their own desire to be involved.  Even if the employee is away from the office, resist the temptation to get involved.  As long as things are heading in the right direction, don’t interfere.  It can be very undermining if you delegate and yet still insinuate yourself.  
  5. Review – After the project has ended, offer advice on how to improve for the next time. Make sure the employee knows all the things they did well, so that they can continue to do these. Also discuss with them the areas they can improve upon for the next time and, ask them what they have learned throughout the course of the project.


Learning to effectively delegate will yield short and long term benefits for you, your team and the company. We all learn best by doing and that means having the opportunity to work on new projects that test our abilities to overcome the obstacles that are inherent in every assignment.  Just as you are growing when your boss gives you opportunities, do the same for those reporting to you. 


Whelan Stone


Copyright 2008 Whelan Stone. All rights reserved.


About whelanstone

I'm originally from New York - lost my accent when I moved down to Florida - and made San Francisco my home in 1985. I've been recruiting & coaching for 12 years, with the best partner (Fred) you could ask for, and love what I do. When I'm not busy working I write screenplays (haven't sold one yet) and travel - Morocco this past summer was fantastic. Fred and I started this blog because we wanted to share what we've learned along the way. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as we do writing it.
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