effective delegator

Becoming an Effective Delegator

Becoming an effective delegator will save you time in the long run, enabling you to focus on the strategy and planning responsibilities required as a manager.

Why Delegate?

Delegation delivers benefits.  When you streamline your workload, you increase the amount of time available for essential managerial skills.  Your staff feel motivated and more confident, and stress levels decrease.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I devoting enough time and resources to strategic planning and overall monitoring?
  • Is my desk overflowing with uncompleted tasks?
  • Are staff enthusiastic and sufficiently motivated?
  • Am I delegating routine but necessary tasks to staff?
  • Is staff training given priority?

The Cost of Avoiding Delegation

Delegation takes time to organise and can be difficult to prioritise but the costs of avoiding it are high.  The manager who does not delegate, or delegates ineffectively, will not only seem disorganised but will spend many hours each week completing low-priority tasks.  Their under-utilised staff will have low morale and the workplace will be characterised by poor quality of work, bottlenecks and slow decisions.

The Effective Delegator

  • Uses schedules when planning
  • Knows the value of delegating
  • Has confidence in team members
  • Ensures staff are fully trained
  • Does not feel insecure

Key Steps to Effective Delegation

Step 1             Define the tasks to be delegated and identify action points

Step 2             Select the individual to receive the task

Step 3             Evaluate each action point for potential areas of concern, additional training needs, changes to authority levels

Step 4             Delegate the task to the individual

Step 5             Assess the progress of the task at agreed times


Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do use all means to communicate with your staff
  • Do strive to regard your associates as competent people
  • Do remind delegates that you respect and appreciate them
  • Do show your delegates loyalty and support
  • Do allow delegates the opportunity to give their opinions
  • Don’t be dismayed by differing perceptions – they are natural
  • Don’t forget that trust is a two-way process that can take time and effort to establish
  • Don’t ask people to do things that you wouldn’t do yourself
  • Don’t use delegates as scapegoats when things go wrong
  • Don’t dissuade staff from speaking out

Barriers to effective delegation

Managers often find delegation difficult.  Barriers are often based on negative feelings of insecurity or mistrust. The gains achieved through overcoming these feelings will far outweigh any possible losses.  Common barriers include:

Doing it yourself.  As a manager, you will probably be more efficient at many tasks than your staff. But if you attempt to do everything because you are quicker, surer, and more proficient you will inevitably find yourself unable to devote sufficient time to higher-level tasks that only you can do.

Fear of overburdening staff.  This is a strong barrier to delegation – if staff members appear to be working to full capacity, how can you delegate without over burdening them?  One solution is to keep back tasks and find time to do them yourself.  A more sensible approach is to make employees analyse their own use of time and free capacity for more work.

Inexperience.  The challenge for managers with limited experience of delegation is to master the more complex aspect of the process, such as controlling and reviewing.  Delegation is a self- teaching activity – you develop and perfect skills through the process itself.  Your confidence and abilities increase the more you delegate.

Losing control of tasks.  The desire to be in total control is a common human trait.  The delegator retains overall control by appointing the right person, having a clear idea of how the task should progress, and exchanging regular feedback.  Managers can be poor delegators if they believe a task must be done “their way”.  This leads to very restrictive briefings with little space for the delegate’s own initiative.  Resist any urge you may have to interfere more than necessary, since this will only create more work and worry for you, thus defeating the object of the delegation.

Insecurity.  Delegating tasks to skilled and motivated people, far from being a threat to a delegator’s position at work, enhances performance and therefore increases job security.  Many top managers have remarkably clear desks – they concentrate on a small number of priority tasks, and delegate everything else.

Being too busy.  Planning your own daily and weekly schedule is an essential precondition of effective delegation.  An overworked manager, with a disorganised schedule, is both the villain and the victim of inadequate delegation.  It is all too easy to establish a vicious circle.  Organise your schedule to ensure you have enough time available to plan and manage a single delegation properly, including writing an effective brief and the actual monitoring of your delegates.

Lacking trust.  A manager must have complete confidence in a delegate’s ability to perform the task, and delegates should feel that their managers are consistent and fair in their approach.  Staff must feel assured about their manager’s integrity, competence, and loyalty.  The continuation of trust depends on good performance and constructive feedback.

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