How to Delegate Work Appropriately for Top Results


In leadership positions, success most often comes not from individual results but from the ability to delegate work appropriately to subordinates. Despite this, John Hunt, a leading London business school professor, is quoted in Forbes as saying that, “Only 30 percent of managers think they can delegate well, and of those, only one in three is considered a good delegator by his or her subordinates.[1]” Here are some top tips for delegating work more appropriately in business:

Teach – and Delegate – Repetitive Tasks

Repetitive tasks, or ones that need to be completed over and over again in the same way, are the ideal job to delegate. Have a subordinate or peer work with you carefully in order to understand the process, and then let them take the reins subsequently.

Stop Micromanaging

The Fast Track by Intuit says that, “Delegating but then continuing to control responsibility and authority is micromanaging.[2]” If you are watching every step of the process, you won’t truly be delegating, and you will be so invested in the job that you can’t focus your energy on more important tasks. While the best managers will be liable and take responsibility for these delegated tasks, you should provide others with the independence to follow your instructions however they see fit.

Provide Complete and Detailed Instructions

All too often, superiors provide incomplete instructions when delegating tasks, and then they are not happy with the final result. It is far more effective and efficient to spend a little more time upfront creating clear and detailed instructions. As reminds, “Make sure your employee has all the information needed to complete the job.[3]” Then, those carrying out the tasks can refer to your instructions rather than coming back to you for pointers or confirmation.

James Cash Penney, the man who founded the J.C.Penney chain, is famously quoted as saying that, “The surest way for an executive to kill himself is to refuse to learn how, and when, and to whom to delegate work.[4]” That sentiment rings true today, but these tips can help a manager delegate more effectively in the workplace.