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The Golden rules to delegation

8th September 2017

‘Delegating doesn’t mean passing off work you don’t enjoy, but letting your employees stretch their skills and judgement’ – Harvey Mackay

The biggest barrier to effective delegation is often you. You must overcome your anxieties about giving others responsibilities in order to gain the benefits of successful delegation. Delegation is a reality none of us can escape if we really want to focus on priorities and scale our business.

Delegating is a skill, an art, a technique that should be mastered as a manager. A manager needs to delegate in order to free up time for the bigger and more important tasks, to motivate and develop their staff, and to achieve more.

The benefits of successfully delegating always outweigh the negatives.

What advantages can this have on organisations?

  • Increases and improves reputation as an employer of choice
  • Increases productivity
  • Ensures continuity through smoother succession planning

What advantages can this have on team members?

  • Skill development and enhancement
  • Increases loyalty – There are career growth opportunities
  • Decreases delays for those waiting on you to make decisions or take action
  • Increases and improves motivation and job satisfaction

What advantages can this have on managers?

  • Increases available time for more strategic thinking and development opportunities for you, your team and the organisation
  • The work can still be completed in your absence
  • Your own reputation will improve as being a trusting manager and someone who invests their time in developing their team
  • Your own career progression will be enhanced

So, how can we successfully delegate in future?

The Golden delegation rules are primarily concerned with five fundamental questions surrounding delegation:

  • What?
  • Who? 
  • Why? 
  • How? 
  • When?

Use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. It’s a quick checklist for successful delegation.

Delegated tasks must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.


  • What is to be done?

Describe what is to be done. The aim of the task must be quite clear. What results are to be achieved? What situation do we wish to be in once the task has been completed?

The task description must be clear, complete and determined by the situation.


  • Who is responsible?

State precisely who has overall responsibility for the task, and who is responsible for any sub-tasks. Specify who can alter the contents of the task, the deadline etc. Agree upon the responsibilities and powers of the staff in connection with the task completion. Agree what support will be provided (and by whom).


  • Why is the task to be completed?

Explain the background as to why the task has to be completed. Explain the importance of the task in the total context. Illustrate the personal/business need for the task to be performed. Why me? – sell the personal development benefits.


  • How is the task to be completed?

Explain how the task should, could or even must be completed. Detailed information or coaching may be necessary depending upon the current experience and ability of the member of staff.


  • When is the task to be completed?

Set specific deadlines for all tasks and sub-tasks. Ensure that these are both realistic and challenging. Take account of the pressure of work on staff and possible delays. Resolve and clarify requirements for any other conflicting work-load priorities. Gain acceptance that the timescale is realistic and reasonable. Agree when you will monitor and review progress.


Remember, if you can’t check these points for a task, it’s probably best that it’s not delegated.

In addition, here are some helpful quick-fire tips from Strategic Coach® on the ‘Do’s’ of delegation:

  • Update your team constantly on your key priorities so they know what’s most important
  • Clarify your expectations by specifying how much time and effort you want people to invest
  • Give your team members the support they need to leverage you better
  • Tell your team when you’re just brainstorming so they’ll know whether to take action
  • Be patient. Let others learn and grow
  • Be clear about your team’s level of authority

HINT: When delegating in future, always remember to say thank you to your employee for saving you time and providing value.

‘As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation. I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back. The company must be set up so it can continue without me’ – Richard Branson