Delegating, done well, can free managers up to focus on larger department issues.

Delegating, done well, increases the morale, confidence, and productivity of team members.

Delegating is a science, and is not simply “telling someone to do something.”

Delegation, not Abdication

Abdication is to relinquish all responsibility. Abdication is the evil twin of delegation.

When you delegate a task, you are still responsible for the ultimate outcome of the task.

One can delegate a one-time task, or a responsibility that will go on in perpetuity.

Find, Ask, and Equip

Consider whom the best person is to delegate the specific task to.

Ask the person if they are willing to take one the task, and complete it within a designated timeframe.

Delegation often involves training. It can feel like taking one step back, to take 2 steps forward.

The Task Must Be Clear and Achievable

Consider whether what you are delegating is reasonable or possible.

Instead of delegating “Get me a meeting with Dr. Joan for 3pm today,” delegate “Will you call Dr. Joan within the hour, to see if she’s willing to meet with me at 3pm Today? If she doesn’t answer, leave a message and also send an email.”

Don’t be Shy

Out of fear of being considered a “task manager” some managers are hesitant to delegate.

Out of fear of “micromanaging” many delegators aren’t specific enough about what they want.

Don’t believe the hype. Ask for what you want. It’s okay to be specific. It’s okay to be particular about how you want things done.

Set Deadlines

Every delegated task needs a deadline.

If there is not a deadline, the task was not successfully delegated.

It is the responsibility of the worker to report back to you on, or before, the deadline.

Inform the worker, that if there is a problem, he/she needs to report it to you before the deadline.

Tracking Progress

If you don’t follow up to confirm that deadlines were met, and that work is satisfactory, the task was not successfully delegated.

Set calendar reminders to make sure delegated deadlines are met.

If you are delegating a large task, set several small deadlines to make sure progress is being made.

Follow up

If a worker misses a deadline, address this directly.

Not being able to complete a task within by the deadline is not an acceptable excuse for not reporting back by (or before) the deadline.

Look Into Missed Deadlines / Reported Problems

If a deadline is missed, or if a worker is reporting difficulties meeting goals, the delegator must fully investigate the situation, to see what can be done to improve worker performance and task progress.

Review Work

It’s crucial to review delegated work, to make sure it is done well.

Provide clear feedback to workers. Did they succeed or fail at the task delegated to them?

>Beware of Upward/Backward Delegating

At times, workers may try and delegate parts of the project back to you. This might mean that they need more training, that the project is not possible, or that they are not problem solving well, or are too busy, or are worried about making a mistake (to name a few common reasons).

Resist the impulse to accept the upward delegation (it is tempting to put the task back on your plate) and talk to the worker to determine the best course of action.

Feedback and Thanks

Provide feedback on work completed.

Offer praise for a job well done!

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Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore Ph.D. is Founder and CEO at Thriveworks--a counseling practice, focused on premium client care, with 240+ locations across the USA. He is Private Practice Consultant for the American Counseling Association, columnist for Counseling Today magazine, and Author of How to Thrive in Counseling Private Practice. Anthony is a multistate Licensed Professional Counselor and has been quoted in national media sources including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."