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  • Writer's pictureJosephine Paige, CPO, MSE

Delegation: Who gets a Slice?

Whether you are a high-powered executive, small business entrepreneur, a stay-at-home parent, or regular working Joe, effective delegation is a key element to more productive and efficient time management. It is one of the most important skills one can master.

When you delegate and share responsibilities with a child, family member, adult volunteer, co-worker, subordinate or your boss, you are building trust and improving communications. You are also giving yourself the time to focus on higher-level tasks.

If you are in need of assistance in your personal life or professional career, the principles of delegation are key to ensuring a successful outcome.

Here are seven principles of successful delegation to keep in mind:

  1. Delegation is a reciprocal relationship. Delegation is not about dumping work on someone and then abandoning that person. It requires that both parties put forth effort. When delegating, you should be prepared to provide clarification and maybe even some encouragement when needed. Also, if you have no one to delegate a task to, you may have to “negotiate” by arranging a trade, by making a deal, or by simply by asking for help.

  2. Be honest with yourself. Tasks should be assigned based on competency. Delegate the project to someone who is ready and capable of delivering the skills necessary. In some cases, you may have to ask yourself, is this a task best performed by me? Save yourself the time and headache and don’t assign a project to someone who is not at or near the skill level required to perform the tasks involved.

  3. Define the tasks. Provide clear and concise directions. Explain the reason for the work, steps to be taken and what you want achieved. Be open to any question. For assurance that you're on the same page, allow the delegate to explain the task and expected outcome in his or her own words. Allow the delegate to approach the subject using their logic and analytical processes. Everyone does not approach a process in the same way, but they can still achieve the same desired outcome.

  4. Consider resources needed. Ensure all resources --people, location, time, materials, money, and equipment have been lined up to support the project. Communicate to the delegate and confirm the level of authority they have over the resources. Ensure that all team members involved are aware of the delegate’s authority and needs for support.

  5. Agree on timelines and deadlines. Set concrete start and finish dates. Build in time for you to check in and review the project progress.

  6. Let go. Remember micromanagement does not work. You must trust that the person assigned the task will perform to the best of their ability.

  7. Resist the Blame Game. Practice an open-door policy for feedback. It is important that all parties involved feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns. If something hits a snag, remember you are still ultimately responsible for the outcome and must make yourself available to provide input throughout the project. Maintain a position of mentor, not punisher. Give credit where credit is due and acknowledge success graciously.

Whether you are a parent delegating to a child or the boss, these principles are necessary components that should never be ignored when passing a task on to someone else. Delegation should never be about power or authority; it should be an opportunity for development for you as well as the person you are assigning the responsibilities to. When delegating, you are giving someone the chance to embrace new task and enjoy the challenges and rewards as the experience unfolds.

Additional Tip

There may not always be someone available to delegate to. In that case, it may be more cost effective to pay for an outside expert. To determine if you should hire someone for a task, consider the following:

To determine if you should hire someone for a task I recommend the following:

  • First ask yourself, what is my skill level for the task? How long will it take for me to complete the task? If someone were paying me to complete the task, how much would it cost? (Note, even a stay-at-home parent has an hourly rate. If you consider all the things you do and what the going rate is to hire someone to replace you, you can determine what your hourly rate should be.)

  • Next, think about someone who can complete the task more efficiently. An expert may charge more per hour, but can complete the task in less time.

  • If you're going to save time and money, delegate the task to someone else. Hire an expert. Use your time to perform task best handled by you!


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