Delegating Responsibility

Document created by 1050210 on Oct 30, 2014
Version 1Show Document
  • View in full screen mode

Published Date: 02/17/2014


Reneé Watkins

By Reneé Watkins


Today’s managers are tasked with more responsibilities than ever before, as the need for efficiency and quality to stay competitive is required of all departments within an organization. In addition to personnel management and budget responsibilities, managers are expected to stay current with the ever-changing technology landscape and trends within their industry. Higher-level executives are also tasked with managing the financial health of the business, promoting the mission statement of the company and executing a strategic plan for growth.


A recent poll of managers participating in a management seminar recognized that many managers are not good at delegating when they get overwhelmed. When asked why they do not delegate more, the answers were very candid and provide valuable insight as to where the managers need help most. In completing the statement: “I would delegate more if I …” the primary responses were:


  • … trusted my colleagues more.
  • … was not so controlling.
  • … had more time to think about what to delegate.
  • … knew how.


These answers are not uncommon. Many articles have been written about business leaders reluctant to give up control and delegate to other employees, who are themselves very capable. Those who are willing to release control and delegate sometimes do so without investing the time necessary to ensure a smooth transition and understanding of expectations, which can lead to failure and a subsequent unwillingness to delegate further.


Delegation does not just automatically happen and must be planned and supported by both parties. Several key factors can help to ensure the successful delegation of important tasks. They include:


  • Trust in your people to handle the task with the care and priority that it deserves. Communicate that trust to your employee. In order to empower your employee, you must first believe in them.
  • Decide what tasks you wish to delegate. Start small with a project that does not have to be completed a certain way or by a certain date. Get comfortable with the act of delegating by creating a series of small successes first.
  • Pick the right person to delegate to. Know your people and their capabilities. In order to truly delegate, you must have someone who can work with little supervision from you. Otherwise, you may as well do it yourself. Picking the wrong person will just be frustrating for both of you.
  • Be clear with your expectations. Provide timelines and deliverables. The more detail you can provide, the better the probability for success and the less you will have to be involved.
  • Give the necessary authority. Responsibility without the proper authority to carry out a task can be frustrating. Provide your employee with the necessary latitude to find their own approach for completing the task. This instills creativity and will boost self-esteem.
  • Assist only when necessary. Remain at arm’s length to let your employee know you have confidence in their capabilities. However, also make sure they know you are there to help and offer your experience if they need you.
  • Monitor progress in case you need to redirect or provide guidance before things get too far. Seeing a problem and not speaking up will just set your employee up for failure. Inexperienced employees need more help than seasoned employees.
  • Celebrate success in every milestone and at the completion of the project. Make sure you express your thanks, as your employee has taken a task from your plate that has hopefully made your load a little lighter.


A recent study in the Gallup Business Journal found the most successful teams brought a broad set of strengths to the project, rather than being led by one dominant leader who tries to do everything themselves. In order to build a cohesive and successful team, a strong leader recognizes when to let go and take full advantage of the strengths of others for the good of the entire organization.


CAI offers a half-day Steps to Delegating Effectively program. For more information, please see