One of the hardest things for new managers to learn is how to delegate tasks to others.  It’s difficult to balance the need to delegate with the desire to retain control and it can seem easier just to do more yourself.  But in the long run, this is not sustainable – you get burnt out and the employee doesn’t feel trusted.

Most people are motivated when they feel they have some autonomy over what they do and how they do it, so delegate to maximise their sense of empowerment.  It’s also important to provide support when you delegate, so as not to overwhelm people with too much responsibility before they are ready.    

Here are some tips for delegating in a way that achieves “supported empowerment”:

  • Decide on areas of responsibility to delegate (eg producing the monthly financial report) rather than one-off tasks (“do the report today”)
  • Clarify your expectations with the person to whom you are delegating (eg the content of the report, the deadline)
  • Delegate the responsibility with the appropriate authority to carry out the task
  • Ask open questions to ensure they understand and agree eg “what are your thoughts”, “how will this affect you”, “how will you go about it”, “when can we review progress”
  • Agree with the person how you are going to monitor it – what progress reporting is required
  • Monitor progress on the due dates as agreed, not before
  • Ensure the person agrees to do it and has the skills to do it, and find out what help they might need from you or others
  • Use delegation as a way to give people the opportunity to learn and develop, not just to dump tasks on them that you don’t want to do

Delegation, done well, makes the world of difference, to you, your organisation, and your team.

(Extracts from How to Get On with Anyone)