November 2014: Delegation: What Are You Waiting For? A Practitioner’s Guide

A recently promoted friend of mine joined me for lunch. He had something on his mind. He loved being a manager and yet had difficulties passing on tasks to his team. 6 months into his new role he asked his former colleagues, now direct reports, for feedback on his performance so far – they said give us MORE. His own team was telling him to delegate more and do less of his old job. My buddy is not alone.


Many people struggle with delegation from newly promoted first time managers to the most experienced managers who simply take on too much. For the first time manager you are moving from an individual contributor to overseeing the efforts of others. That is a difficult transition and can be a bit foreign. You have to focus and realize that you are promoted, have a different job and now need to spend your time differently and develop very different skills sets. This is one of those new critical tasks that must be mastered. For the experienced manager – delegation also remains a tricky task for a variety of reasons (excuses). These can include not trusting others to do it as well as you could, having been burned in the past, perceived lack of resources, not wanting to “dump” work on others, and simply not taking the time to communicate the goals and tasks to others. While the delegated tasks may change, the same basic guidelines apply equally to the most senior C-Suite executives as they do to the first time supervisors – you must embrace a few things about proper delegation:


  • Your role is not always to do the task, quite the opposite.
  • You won’t scale your organization’s capabilities and capacity without it.
  • You won’t develop your people without it.
  • Most importantly You won’t be an effective and successful leader without it.


The downside of delegating improperly or failing to delegate at all is significant. But so is the upside.  Do it well and you will have a high performing organization with engaged and challenged employees giving you time to focus on higher impact leader tasks, not job functions.


As you do your daily, weekly and monthly planning and reflection make sure that you ask the question “What am I currently doing that perhaps I should delegate?”


Here are a number of articles to review and revisit frequently to make sure you are exercising your delegation muscles regularly. There are a few more than my typical post – but none are duplicative. Given how much people struggle and the variety of reasons for those struggles I felt it appropriate to have more articles than usual to help all.


Why Aren’t You Delegating? (via Harvard Business Review)

Principles to Remember


  • Take note if you’re overwhelmed and your team members don’t seem to have enough to do — it’s a warning sign
  • Keep a visual reminder of your team’s development goals so you can easily identify opportunities to delegate
  • Ask your direct reports to call you out when you haven’t delegated enough


  • Assume that you aren’t biased about other people’s performance
  • Give someone else responsibility for something and then micromanage the task to death
  • Be impatient — practice and learn from your mistakes


Why Successful Entrepreneurs Are Effective Delegators (via Gallup Business Journal)

Maximizing Your Delegator Talent:

1. Identify what to delegate.

2. Identify whom to delegate to.

3. Take time to set things up for success.

4. Allow employees to perform.

5. Give feedback.

6. Use your network to access the human resources you need for delegation.


How To Delegate More Effectively in Your Business (via Forbes)

  • Choose what tasks you are willing to delegate.
  • Pick the best person to delegate to. Listen and observe. Learn the traits, values, and characteristics of those who will perform well when you delegate to them.
  • Trust those to whom you delegate.
  • Give clear assignments and instructions.
  • Set a definite task completion date and a follow-up system
  • Give public and written credit.
  • Delegate responsibility and authority, not just the task.
  • Avoid reverse delegation.


The Secret to Effective Delegation (via Forbes)

One word, I believe, sums it up: clarity.


6 Steps For More Effective Delegation (via Fast Company)

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

1. Prepare

2. Assign

3. Confirm understanding

4. Confirm commitment

5. Avoid “reverse delegating”

6. Ensure Accountability


Do Less, Achieve More: The Beauty Of Effective Delegation (via Fast Company)

  • Does that activity really add value to your company?
  • Are you really great at performing that task?
  • Is there somebody else who can do better, as well as, or nearly as well as you at completing the task?


6 Ways to Delegate More Effectively (via Harvey Mackay and Inc)

1. Don’t look for perfection.

2. Provide complete job instructions.

3. Stop believing you’re the only one who can do the job properly.

4. Focus on teaching skills.

5. Check on progress.

6. Say thank you to the people who have accepted the responsibility.


8 Best Practices in Employee Delegation (via The Biz Coach)

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Analyze everything on your plate.

2. Prepare to document everything for a paper trail.

3. Identify the project.

4. Determine who is qualified to perform the task. Employ the acronym, SMARTER –

5. Meet with the employee and communicate the assignment.

6. Don’t micromanage.

7. Communicate with your boss.

8. Continuously communicate with the employee.


- Tom Deierlein


Combat Leaders has set a goal of 1,000 newsletter subscribers by Dec 31st.


If you enjoyed this monthly newsletter, please forward to a friend and ask them to sign up:


Please follow us on twitter: @CombatLeaders