5 Steps to Delegating Work Effectively

Have you ever been busy working and think to yourself: “Ugh, I need six of me”? Well, one secret to good management is that, if you learn how to delegate effectively, it can feel like you have six of you.

Some managers avoid delegating for fear of dumping work on their team members. Others seek perfection and can’t let go. But if you can strike the right balance, you can get more done, build a more satisfied team, and achieve superior results. Here’s how:

Delegate the right task

The first step is to know yourself: What are your strengths? What can only you do? If you’re delegating a task, it’s because your time could be better spent on something else. Delegate those tasks that you can’t do, that someone else could do better, or that don’t interest you.

Delegate to the right person

The second step is to know your team. Delegate work to the teammate that will deliver, not the one who’s just less busy. Also, delegate smaller or less complex tasks to newer or less experienced staff to build their confidence, and also their ability. Try to match the job requirements to the abilities of team member you’re delegating to, but remember that it’s also okay to take the time to teach them. Giving an employee or teammate the chance to stretch themselves helps make the work satisfying for them and, in the long run, will allow you to rely on them to a greater degree as their abilities grow. Related: Still using Microsoft Excel or QuickBooks for accounting? Here are 6 signs that you’ve outgrown financial spreadsheets - WATCH THE VIDEO

Be clear

Explain enough so that the person to whom you delegate has a clear understanding of the project goals and what’s expected of her or him, but not so much that they feel talked down to. Also, it can be helpful to set a date for task completion and also for milestones along the way. Milestones allow you to have a sense of progress without the risk of micromanaging, hovering, or asking vague questions like, “How’s it coming?” which inevitably lead to vague answers like, “Fine,” or worse: “It’s coming.”


Successful delegation requires a certain measure of trust. You are trusting this employee or teammate to get the job done and done well. It’s important that you remember, they may not choose to complete the task in the same way you would. However, this doesn’t mean that their choice isn’t valid or won’t be successful. In fact, the more of a sense of ownership you can give your team member, the more committed to the task they feel. Talking about a project helps solidify a sense of ownership, so even in the early stages of task assignment, consider asking questions of the person you’re delegating to and being open to their suggestions. Also, remember that your goal isn’t perfection; it’s getting the job done. Good enough is good enough. Remember, their work allowed you to spend your time on something that was more worth your time.

Give credit, and thanks

Delegating work isn’t the same as pawning your work off on someone else, so don’t treat it that way. Giving credit is a simple act that can reap rewards. It gives your team member satisfaction and engenders loyalty. And don’t forget that it can reflect well on you: after all, you’re the one who thought to assign the task to the person who nailed it. And beyond that, your show of faith and your thoughtful mentorship may show up in a performance review. Of course, just as delegation isn’t the same as pawning off, credit isn’t the same as thanks. A sincere thank you can go a long way. It makes an employee feel recognized and appreciated, and more likely to take on the next task you’d like to delegate.

 Written by Leah Weston, Marketing Manager at DSD Business Systems

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