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How to articles – Making Delegation Work

Delegating to the team
Delegating to the team

Making Delegation Work

Making delegation work is crucial in our ability to get results through other people. People are our greatest asset and just as we would want to get the best out of an expensive piece of equipment, development of their skills and abilities through effective delegation, will pay ensure that we get the best from them and also ourselves.

Effective delegation is a critical survival skill for managers, leaders and supervisors. Yet, what is less often emphasised is that making delegation work and knowing how to use it right is an important personal time management skill.

Here are some clearly defined steps in making delegation work:

Step 1. Select the Person

The first step is choosing the right person to delegate the task to. This is trickier than it seems because we have to know the abilities of all of our team. It’s best to judge them by two criteria:

  1. What is their performance level in their current job?
  2. Are they ready, willing and able to take on more?

You must ensure that the person you select is ready otherwise you risk overloading them.

Step 2: Plan the Results/Outcomes

Developing a simple plan for the results and outcomes of the delegation will pay dividends at this stage. You must know what you want them to achieve, to what level or standard and by when it should be done. It must meet the SMART criteria. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results based and Time based).

Step 3: Hold a Delegation Meeting

Meet with the person and discuss what is needed. In the meeting delegate by:

  • Results to be achieved, not just task. Don’t just tell them how you would do it. Let them think it through for themselves
  • Rules and limitations – by when and how much etc.
  • Responsibility and accountability

Step 4: Create an Action Plan

Ask the person to create an action plan. It should include timescales, resources needed, people involved and follow up actions to ensure achievement. There may have to be some allowance built into the plan for some support with their existing workload as they will surely be slower at achieving the new task whilst they get up to speed.

Step 5: Review the Action Plan

Ensure both parties are clear of what is to be achieved and by when. Get written agreement if necessary. Make it clear that you are there to support them and for guidance but NOT to help them. Otherwise you will just end up doing it yourself.

Step 6: Implementation and Follow Up

You have to ensure that you check up regularly to see that the activity that was planned is happening. You must also give feedback both during and on completion of the task. This feedback should include what skills you have seen them develop and how this helps them for the future.

Key Points to remember:

  • Find a win-win deal – both parties must benefit. Delegation must not be seen as dumping jobs on other people
  • Delegate the result not just the task – allow the person full responsibility for the outcome. This is very important for the person’s motivation and performance, as well as for your satisfaction with the results.
  • Give purpose to jobs – even the most mundane tasks
  • Ensure you are available for support if necessary
  • Remember – You still have ultimate accountability – delegation is not abdication

And also:

  1. Making delegation work takes a bit more time in the first instance
  2. Yes it is quicker to do it yourself initially but if you don’t make the time to delegate it you will always be doing it
  3. Remember that mistakes will happen. You made them whilst you were learning.
  4. Delegation should always be used as a skill development activity – this ensures full buy-in.

To find out more about how we can train you and your people in making delegation work go to

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