The Six Steps of Delegation

Are you a successful delegator? Delegating is a great way to ensure that more tasks get done in less time, and it also builds team capacity. Unfortunately, a lot of managers don’t pay enough attention to the delegation process, and thus fail to reap the benefits.

Here are the six steps you should work through when delegating:

1. Prepare. Employees can’t deliver quality results if the task delegated to them isn’t fully thought out, or if expectations keep changing. Take the time to map out exactly what you’re asking for.

2. Assign. Next, convey that information to your employees. Be sure to include clear information on timing, budget, and context, and set expectations for communication and updates.

3. Confirm Understanding. One of the most common mistakes made in delegating is assuming that employees understand what you want, rather than making sure that they do. Confirming understanding only takes about 60 seconds, but is the most important determinant of success or failure.

4. Confirm Commitment. Managers often just assume that employees have accepted the tasks they’ve been given, but it’s important to confirm that they’re actually committed to seeing it through.

5. Avoid “Reverse Delegating.” Managers often end up completing tasks they had delegated to others, because those tasks somehow end up back on their plate. I call this “reverse delegating.” It’s rarely, if ever, necessary for managers to take back tasks they had delegated to someone else. If an employee reaches an impasse, coach him or her through it.

6. Ensure Accountability. Two-way communication is a key part of delegating. Finding out at the completion date that a deliverable hasn’t been completed or has been done unsatisfactorily is the nightmare scenario of delegating. That’s why you need to make sure your employees are accountable for the task.

The delegation process becomes faster and more fluid the more you do it. Once you’ve mastered it, it will become a part of your managerial DNA, and you’ll consistently reap outstanding results.