Successful Delegation – 9 Essential Ingredients

Successful Delegation – 9 Essential Ingredients

1: Assessment

Analyze your motivations for delegating to this person or team? What are they going to get out of it? What are you going to get out of it? Is this person or team capable of performing the task? Do they understand what needs to be done?

2: Definition

Employees can’t deliver quality results if the task delegated to them isn’t fully thought out by the delegator, or if (our) expectations keep changing. Take the time and develop the discipline to map out exactly what you’re asking for.

3: Explanation

Explain why the job or responsibility is being delegated. And, why to that person or team. What is its importance/relevance? Where does it fit in the overall scheme of mission accomplishment?

4: Confirmation

What specifically must be achieved (i.e., “S.M.A.R.T. Goal” format)? Clarify understanding by getting feedback from the one who is now assigned the task. Make sure they know how you intend to decide that the job is being/has been successfully done. Ask questions to make sure they understand all aspects of what’s required. The best way to begin that process is to ask your employee(s) to verbally paraphrase the request or assignment before the meeting concludes (and then confirm it in an e-mail). The most important part of a relay race is the handing of the baton to the next runner.

5: Resources

Discuss and agree on what is required to get the job done and when it should be completed. Consider relevant resource constraints: people, location, premises, equipment, money, materials, other priorities, related activities, and services, etc.

6: Accountability

The employee/team who has been delegated to must be regularly communicated with about the status/timing of the deliverable so that there are no surprises at the eleventh hour. Finding out at the completion date that a deliverable hasn’t been completed (or has been done unsatisfactorily) is obviously the nightmare delegation scenario.

7: Monitoring

When must the job be finished? Or, if an ongoing duty/project, when are the review dates/reports due? And, if the task is complex, has multiple parts or stages, what are the priorities? Methods of progress checking and controlling should also be agreed to with the one(s) being delegated to because failing to agree on this in advance may cause monitoring to seem like interference or lack of trust.

8: Feedback

It is essential to let the team-mate(s) you’ve delegated to know how they are doing along the way, and whether they achieved the envisioned outcome upon completion. Be prepared to celebrate their success. Or, if things did not turn out as planned, you must review the actual results vs. plan, deal with any problems that can hamper future success, and be ready to personally absorb the consequences of failure.

9: Stay The Course (Prohibit “Reverse Delegation”)

It’s rarely wise for a manager to take back a task that has been delegated to someone else. When necessary, it likely means that not enough time was spent on the preparation stage. If an employee reaches an impasse, treat it as a learning opportunity, and make sure he or she has the resources and knowledge needed to proceed with task completion.