DELEGATING tasks can achieve a number of results, namely a decrease in workload of the manager and an increased sense of participation and involvement in the employee.

So why do so many managers complain about being stressed and too busy, and yet are reluctant to delegate? There are two main reasons:

It takes some time and effort up front to organise your workload before delegation, and at a subconscious level, you fear someone else may do something better than you.


The trouble with delegating

When considering delegating work, do you experience any of the following symptoms of “delegatitis” (my term for having difficulty in delegating)? Here they are:

•   I can do it better and faster myself;

•   I can’t trust my colleagues or subordinates to do it;

•   I don’t have time to explain what needs to be done;

•   They already have enough to do;

•   I don’t want to give this task up as I enjoy doing it;

•   They messed up last time so there is no point asking them to do this; and

•   I am the only person who knows how to do this.

Your degree of delegatitis varies from mild with one yes, to critical with five or more. The good news is, there are a number of great antidotes to delegatitis.


Six key points for effective delegation

•   Consolidate: Decide exactly what you want to delegate. Remember that delegating is different to assigning tasks that are already part of an individual’s job description. Also, it is not an opportunity to pass on mundane activities you do not want to do. Give employees something different and stimulating every so often. When you delegate, you are still responsible for the outcome.

•   Eliminate: Get rid of all the tasks that don’t need to be done. If you don’t need to do a task yourself, consider if it needs to be done at all. As management guru Peter Drucker puts it: “Do the first things first and the second not at all.”

•   Interrogate: Ask yourself what you can delegate, as not all tasks are suitable. Never delegate sensitive projects. If it is confidential in any way, the work should not be outsourced. If you were assigned the task due to your specific expertise, be careful when delegating. Ensure you understand the task as you will not be able to delegate an assignment if you do not know how to accomplish it.

•   Abdicate: Resist the temptation to dictate how the task should be done. You are delegating the objective, not your own methodology. Be sure to delegate the autonomy along with the responsibility. Avoid the “Let me show you” syndrome, as you will end up doing the task yourself. Ask for progress reports and don’t look over the shoulder of the person you have delegated the work to every step of the way.

•   Candidate: Once you know what a particular task entails, find the best person for the job. You may find that initially he takes longer to do it than you, but that is because you are the expert. Be patient. If you have chosen the best person and clarified the objectives, he will quickly become competent and reliable. Don’t always give tasks to the same people. Share responsibilities and involvement.

•   Elucidate: Explain clearly what the task involves and make the instructions as clear as possible. Set a time frame for the assignment and schedule update meetings to monitor progress and determine any need for assistance. Ask the person who is doing the work to give you his understanding of both the task and the goals. If there is a mismatch in his answers and your expectations, review the matter in detail again.


When carried out properly, delegation is a win-win situation as it allows you to make the best use of your time and skills as well as help to grow and develop other team members to reach their full potential. You will be surprised how taking on additional responsibility or new tasks can motivate and stimulate employees.


Article by Ana Antunes da Silva, a life and business coach. For more information, visit Article source: