Delegation – The future of People Management

Many managers or team leaders feel quite threatened by the whole concept of delegation — after all they may have taken some time to reach their current position, so why should they start to give their much coveted job away?

Benefits of effective Delegation

Benefits to the organization:

  • Optimum use of staff resources
  • Tasks performed at the cheapest rate consistent with quality
  • Wider ownership of company mission and objectives
  • Reduce vulnerability to unexpected absences

Benefits to the manager:

  • Free time for more vital tasks
  • Develops staff for wider role
  • Increased staff motivation
  • Spreads the ownership of achieving departmental objectives

Benefits to the individual:

  • Develops increased skills or knowledge
  • Motivation
  • Shows wider view of the company
  • Builds trust and confidence

Trying to decide what to delegate is made easier if we first of all decide which tasks should not be delegated.

Things to consider when deciding what to delegate:

  • Ruthlessly analyse your abilities and the limits of your time, so that you can identify what can best be delegated.
  • By delegating, leave yourself free to do the work that only you can do.
  • Re-examine the tasks you find particularly easy — it may be appropriate to delegate these as well as the tasks you don’t want to do
  • Don’t delegate exceptional tasks, such as tasks only you can do in time or to the required standard
  • Don’t delegate tasks involving confidentiality or particularly sensitive info
  • Use the delegation of important tasks to enrich the team member’s task, improve performance and raise morale.
  • Real delegation requires courage, judgement and faith in others — seek to excersise these qualities whenever you delegate.

The Delegation Process:

Should I be doing this job

  • Always ask yourself if this job could be done by somebody else
  • If I were not doing this now, what more important job could I be doing?

Plan before delegating

  • Make time to plan the delegation process thoroughly
  • Establish key goals, standards of performance and realistic timescales
  • What skills and resources will be required?

Identifying the right person

  • Select someone who has the skills, knowledge and attitude to perform well
  • If this mix is not available you will either have to develop them or do the job yourself
  • This means you have to plan delegation — it’s not a knee jerk reaction!

Reporting Links

  • Who will the individual be reporting to?   The ideal is to one person
  • If they’ll be reporting to more than one person then this will need careful management

Responsibility and Authority

  • Determine the limits of authority being delegated
  • How much money? Who is involved?
  • How much authority will the individual have to make key decisions?
  • The authority limits must be clarified before the job gets under way

Delegate in Full

  • Whenever possible, delegate a whole job and not just parts of it
  • Never delegate the boring bits without the stimulating and interesting parts


  • Always talk through how the work is to be planned and controlled
  • Discuss resources, support, guidance and what to do if things go wrong
  • Be clear about the specific results required and how they’ll be measured
  • Once the briefing is done — let go!

Progress Reviews

  • Establish a clear review progress with dates and times agreed up front.
  • Maintain a discreet oversight of how things are going, and only intervene if a catastrophe looms!
  • Make review meetings positive, honest and motivating

Handling Questions

  • Once the job is under way be conscious of the questions you are being asked and the situations your advice is sought about.   What do they tell you about the person’s ability and confidence?
  • When they ask a question insist they come up with a variety of solutions first
  • Help to develop their self-reliance


  • When the work is completed satisfactorily be generous with rewards and praise
  • If it goes wrong then consider how you might have managed the process differently to have produced a positive result
  • Involve the other person in identifying weaknesses in the plan or execution
  • Praise in public — but always discuss errors or development needs in private!

Benefits of Delegation:

  • Extra Responsibility
  • Higher profile in the organization
  • Possible additional payment
  • Confidence to take on more demanding work
  • Personal growth
  • Improved promotion prospects
  • Building a ‘can do’ reputation

Barriers to Delegation:

  • No extra pay? No extra effort!
  • Not being seen as a ‘company man’
  • Why should I take on your job?
  • I’ve enough work of my own!
  • I don’t think I can do it!
  • I need more training
  • I don’t feel confident about doing this

The 3 Ts of Delegation:

1. The Target:  Everyone needs a very clear and specific target to aim for.   If someone doesn’t know what they are expected to achieve we can’t blame them for not reaching it.

2. The Tally:  Once someone understands what they have to achieve they must be able to monitor or measure their performance so that they are able to change the way they are working.

The measures must be readily available and easy to understand.   It is no use having measures produced monthly, weekly or daily if we expect our staff to modify their work output hourly.

3. The Tools:  Once people understand what they have to achieve and have frequent and accurate measures of how well they’re doing, they need one final element, the tools.   People must have the ability to change the way they’re working so they may adjust their performance to the required standard.

 This may involve giving them:

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