Delegating Pre-work

Coach: Sundra Naidoo

Delegation is the assignment of new responsibilities to others, and the authority needed to carry out these responsibilities.

Delegating is a necessity in today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking work environment. As competition in the industry changes and customer demands shift, leaders cannot singlehandedly tackle group goals or manage all tasks themselves. The job of a manager involves getting results through others. Delegation is not only for direct reporting people—you may find yourself delegating to (or asking for help from) peers or even your manager.

By delegating tasks and providing the necessary authority to others, you and your teammates will gain the following benefits:


  • Maximization of employees’ strengths. Employees will have the opportunity to demonstrate their unique strengths and improve their areas of weakness while contributing to the results of the organization.


  • Development of employees’ knowledge and skills (e.g., decision-making and problem-solving), which will help prepare them for future assignments and positions and offer you a broader bench of talented employees to assist in future goal attainment.


  • Motivation of employees by making their jobs more challenging, interesting, and meaningful. They will strive harder and be more productive with the appropriate challenge.


  • Increased commitment and buy-in necessary for effective implementation of decisions and courses of action. When employees are involved in decisions that affect them, they have more ownership in ensuring successful implementation.


  • Increased confidence and self-esteem of employees. This, in turn, builds your trust and confidence.


  • Better management of your time. You will have more time to handle important or urgent work and to lead your team.

Barriers to Delegation


  • Lack of confidence in others: If you want it done right, do it yourself!


  • Fear of being blamed for mistakes made by others.


  • Insecurity: need to feel indispensable and/or maintain complete control; concerned about job security: What if someone else does it better than I could?


  • Don’t trust employees.


  • Perfectionism: Nobody can do it better than I can.


  • Time constraints: By the time I explain it all to him/her, it will be easier to do it myself.


  • Too important to delegate: A lot is riding on this assignment.


  • Project contains confidential information that can’t be shared.


  • Feel that the employee lacks the skills or knowledge to ensure success in a new area.


  • Inherited a weak staff from previous manager.


  • No one to delegate to.


  • New managers were previously accountable for and rewarded for doing outstanding technical work, not for delegating or developing people.


  • My boss wants me to do this project, not delegate it.


  • Don’t know how to do it effectively; not trained in how to delegate.


  • • Uncomfortable asking someone else to help or to do something.
  1. Determine the delegation ASSIGNMENT and who the person will be.


  1. COMMUNICATE the assignment to the employee.


  1. MONITOR the completion of the assignment


  1. Upon completion, DEBRIEF the delegation process and outcomes.

Step 1: Assign


STEP 1: Determine the delegation assignment and the employee.

  • Identify the requirements of the delegation assignment

– Size and complexity

– Importance and organizational impact

– Knowledge and skills required

– Knowledge and skills that could be developed through this assignment


  • Assess employees’ knowledge, skill, interest level, and confidence          relative to the requirements of the assignment

– Ensure that the employee can perform the job

– Don’t set people up for failure by delegating beyond their capacity or outside their sphere of interest: balance the desire to stretch the employee and the need to provide work within his/her grasp

– Build on successes to delegate more challenging tasks in the future


  • Use delegating as a development tool for everyone on your team

– Avoid the trap of delegating all the work to your best people

– Choose the lowest level of employee who can handle and learn from the assignment

– Expect the best


  • Gradually assign responsibilities for tasks you usually perform yourself

– Develop your people while freeing up your own time for greater challenges

– Discover who enjoys work that has become less challenging for you

– Consider delegating portions of projects when you can’t delegate the whole thing


Step 2: Communicate


STEP 2: Communicate the assignment.

  • Appeal to the employee’s pride and confidence

– Explain why you feel he/she is the best choice for this assignment

– Communicate your positive expectations for success


  • Set clear expectations and check for understanding and acceptance

– Results expected/Deadlines

– Why the assignment is important


  • Focus on the what and the why, not the how

– Let the employee determine how to perform the job

– For a complex task or for a less experienced employee, ask for an action    plan

– Don’t assume that the way you would do the job is the only way


  • Consider the individual employee’s style and learning curve

– Adapt level of detail to the employee’s communication style

– Scale your direction/oversight to the employee’s skill and experience level relative to the specific task

– Expect and encourage questions after he/she has had time to think about the assignment


  • Provide the employee with the resources needed to do the job

– Background information/Reference materials

– Tools/equipment

– Time

– Who else can he/she turn to for additional help?


  • Clarify the authority the employee has

– What can he/she do without checking with you?

– What does he/she need to inform you about after he/she takes action?

– What do you want him/her to check with you on before taking action?

– Is it OK to re-assign the task to others on the team, in the department, or more broadly within the organization?

Step 3: Monitor

STEP 3: Monitor the completion of the assignment.

  • Monitor progress

– Agree on how and when progress discussions will be conducted

– Don’t look over the employee’s shoulder

– Be available and interested in how the work is progressing


  • Be accessible

– Encourage the employee to come to you with potential problems and his/her proposed solutions

– Delegate, don’t abdicate!

– Follow up to see how it’s going, but don’t micro-manage


  • Provide coaching and support

– Be a sounding board when employees are discouraged or frustrated, but don’t take back the delegated assignment

– Help the employee problem-solve to achieve the necessary results

Step 4: Debrief


STEP 4: Upon completion, debrief the delegation process and outcomes.

  • At the end of an assignment, debrief learnings

– What went well?

– What did not go as well as expected?

– How could the employee apply what he/she learned to avoid future mistakes?


  • Realize that mistakes are part of the learning process

– Hold people accountable for performance and results

– Don’t expect perfection or expect the person to do the task exactly the same way you would have done it


  • If a delegated assignment does not meet your expectations

– Coach the employee to redo the assignment

– Don’t do the work yourself


  • Be sure to give recognition for a delegated job well done

– Give specific objective examples of what the employee did that contributed to the successful result

– Communicate your appreciation; praise is motivation for future effort


  • Ask for feedback on your delegation. Consider asking:

– Has this assignment been challenging—a realistic expectation, with a stretch?

– Have I provided the right amount of support and direction?

– How has the delegated work impacted your other responsibilities and assignments?

– What could I do differently next time to delegate more effectively?

– What kinds of assignments would you like me to delegate to you to develop your knowledge and skills?


  • Encourage your team to delegate

– Reward people for developing others by delegating challenging work

– Ask others what assignments they are currently doing that their staff could do


Please complete this before coming to group coaching:


Delegation Exercise:

Consider the work that is currently on your plate. Include recurring responsibilities and projects you are working on or anticipate in the near future. Indicate which you currently/could delegate, could partially delegate, and those you never delegate, or think cannot be delegated.


  Current Task List

 Could Delegate

  Could Partially Delegate

Never or Cannot Delegate





































Discuss the following with your subgroup. Choose the answer that best expresses your opinion in your subgroup:























  1.        If you delegate a job to someone else, you have to be prepared to accept a wider margin of error than when doing it yourself.


  1.        You shouldn’t ask someone else to do something that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.


  1.       It’s often faster and easier to do a job yourself than to teach someone else  to do it.


  1.       If you delegate too much or too successfully, you could find yourself out of a job.


  1.        You shouldn’t delegate things that you don’t trust others to do right.


  1.        You should delegate jobs that push people outside of their comfort zones.


  1.       You should delegate jobs that go beyond someone’s normal job responsibilities.


  1.        Only one person should be delegating work to someone at any one time.


  1.        When you delegate a job, you are no longer personally responsible for it.


  1.      Delegating is only for direct reporting people—you can’t delegate to peers or “higher- ups.”