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My 10 Tips for Effective Delegation

by Ryan Adam

Delegation has Transformed the Way I Work

Delegation has transformed the relationships I have with my team. Last year, it was a different story, and it all boiled down to trust, or lack or it, and not really understanding why delegation as an activity could boost productivity and morale. I have a team of eighteen at the moment, and we use six contractors for ongoing development projects. We’re a pretty lean team, but it also means the flat structure doesn’t allow for promotion in the true sense!

I was convinced my standards couldn’t be reached and I worried, probably unnecessarily, about letting go of control. My workload was unbearable and I knew there were tasks I could delegate, but I struggled to let them out of my grasp! I read a few articles and this Harvard Business Review blog struck home! I have learned to be less of a control freak!

A New Morning Dawned...

One morning, I started a plan to delegate to one of my star performers, Emily. She’d been urging me to give her more interesting, challenging work and I realised she wasn’t feeling as motivated as she had felt say, six months ago.

We sat down and talked the project through and I could tell she was excited about the prospect. We created a worksheet, like the one we use in the Personal Effectiveness course. We firmed up objectives, the overall parameters and expected outcomes. Emily was up for the challenge. She asked me to let her raise any issues and for me to keep to the 'ground rules' we'd created.


The project was delivered as planned. I only coached when asked for input, challenge or to run through an idea.

My Tips!

This is what I learnt, and now I’m passing these on as my top 10 tips.

  1. Choose to whom you delegate. I chose a star performer, but I didn’t the next time. Rather than picking the obvious person, choose someone for whom the task will be a development opportunity;
  2. Examine your different areas of responsibility and identify tasks which you MUST do and tasks you can delegate;
  3. Think of suitable objectives that could be set in these areas;
  4. Plan how you might "sell" these opportunities and gain people's commitment to them;
  5. Discuss what training they may need - this should not be too big a challenge, but a step-up form of training. The support, if needed, seemed to be more  important.
  6. Work out the communication flow needs, and stick to it, unless problems occur;
  7. Plan how to support and motivate your employees without interfering with their new responsibilities.
  8. Take time out afterwards to review the learnings from each perspective;
  9. Celebrate success – it means a lot when extra effort is noticed;
  10. Learn how to do it better the next time! There was room for improvement from my perspective in terms of communication outside the team, with a supplier.

Now, I delegate often, although it has to be the right development activity. The other piece of good news is that as a result of “true” delegation, I’m managing my time better. That’s a huge bonus, as I can plan time for other leadership activity, and time for my learning too!

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