The Do's and Don'ts of Delegation

20 March 2017

Do you ever feel bogged down with work?

The most effective and accessible way to reduce your workload and fully utilise your time is to delegate and delegate well. As brilliant as you are, everyone needs help and support at some point. Some people don’t delegate enough because they are too proud to ask and others because they don’t know how to best approach it.

Here are 6 delegating do’s and don’ts to set you in good stead.


1. DO explain how the delegated task will grow the person’s skills and experience
When you show someone how the task will grow their own skills and experience, the task will be better received and completed with a higher degree of passion.

2. DO start your explanation with what the outcome should look like first
Start at the end and work your way back to the first action required. Explain how that work fits into the bigger picture. This provides perspective and a better understanding, making the detail of the task much easier to organise.

3. DO explain your priorities clearly
Whether you’ve set a list of small tasks or you are handing over a project, you need to establish your priorities. You want to avoid the person concentrating more on the least important tasks and should time run out, you know that the most important things were taken care of at the beginning.

4. DO think about whether it's quicker to complete the job yourself than it is to explain it
Have you set aside enough time to delegate the job effectively? Is there enough time for instructions, training, progress meetings and to make changes if required? If not, it's probably best you do that one yourself.

5. DO think about how the task will affect existing work streams
You don’t want to delegate only to find that the individual cannot complete the most important tasks required in their own role because they were supporting you. Your work should not completely overshadow the core responsibilities of the primary job they are required to do.

6. DO ensure the amount of responsibility is proportionate to the level of authority
You must delegate responsibly. For example, if you ask a junior team member to type up the budget figures but you are responsible for ensuring all the figures match up, that’s still on you. Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, but you cannot delegate ultimate accountability.


1. DON’T lose control of the project
You need to check in at regular intervals to ensure everything is running smoothly. Discuss what’s been completed so far, if the individual is on the right track, and if any re-drafting is necessary. Don’t leave this to the last minute. You need to ensure your meetings happen at a time that allows for any questions to be answered or changes to be complete.

2. DON’T assign tasks at random
You need to consider who is best suited to particular tasks and why. For example, if someone is bad with numbers, don’t assign them a complicated spreadsheet task. This will cost you more time and too many errors. Take the time to identify the right people to delegate to, and if their skills will be of benefit to you and the outcome of the project.

3. DON’T take the credit for delegated work
This is one of the biggest delegation sins. This is a sure-fire way to isolate yourself from any future help and demotivate your colleagues. Ensure you publicly congratulate that person for their work. Not only will that make them see the value in helping you, it will make for better partnership working in future.

4. DON’T presume delegated work is OK before you submit or formally use it
If you are ultimately responsible for the delegated work, read the work carefully before signing it off because from that point onwards, you are accountable for any errors.

5. DON’T micro-manage
Once you’ve administered the instructions or training required to complete the task, let the person get on with it in their own way. Remember, it’s a successful outcome that is most important here and not the specific method in which to get there.

6. DON’T delegate tasks that are confidential or personal to you
You will run directly into trouble if confidential information is leaked or mishandled so ultimately, it’s not worth it. If the task is personal to you, it’s very rare that another person will be able to replicate your thoughts exactly and the amount of questions they will have to ask wouldn’t be worth getting someone else to do it in the first place.

Simon Broadway, UK Team Leader at Projectus Consulting

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