No Dumping: 5 Keys to Effective Delegation

I have seen, and probably been accused of, dumping responsibilities on people inappropriately and calling it delegation. This form of delegation actually does more harm than good for an organization, because it leaves projects undone or completed sub-par, kills employee morale and motivation, and keeps the mission of the organization from reaching its full potential.  Recently I asked two of our staff people to whom I delegate frequently how I am doing in this area.  It was a good conversation and helped write this post.

The bottom line is that delegation involves more than just ridding oneself of responsibility.  You can’t dump and run and call it delegation.

For delegation to be effective the delegator must ensure the person assuming the delegated project receives:

Expectations – The person receiving the assignment must know the goals and objectives you are trying to achieve. They need to know what a win looks like.  The question “Why are we doing this?” should be answered clearly in their mind.

Knowledge - The delegator insures the proper training, coaching and education have been received. The delegator should remain available during the process so that questions or uncertainties of details that arise can be answered.

Resources – Good delegation involves having adequate resources and money to accomplish the task assigned.  Nothing is more frustrating than being asked to complete a project without the tools with which to do it.

Accountability – Proper delegation involves follow up and evaluation of the delegated assignment.  This is healthy for the delegator, the person receiving delegation, and the organization.

Appreciation – The delegation isn’t complete until the delegator recognizes the accomplishment of the one who completed the task.  Failing to do so limits the leader’s ability to continue healthy delegation.

What would you add?  Have you ever received a “dumping” that was called delegation?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “No Dumping: 5 Keys to Effective Delegation

  1. Awesome! I agree with Jeremy about explaining the "why." Helping people understand the reason not only helps produce commitment, but also helps communicate the philosophy. When everyone on your team knows both the method and the philosophy your team operates at a higher level!

    Great post!

  2. I love what you said about answering the "Why" for them. I think that is far too often overlooked. I think it is extremely empowering to your team when they understand the why.

  3. I would add an expression of confidence or trust in the person to whom you've delegated the task. Nothing is worse than when you've been given a task and the person can't let go of it and trust you to run with it. Set follow up deadlines or milestones, make sure they know when they can come to you if they need help or direction, and then get out of their way.

  4. Good topic. Proper delegation expands our ability to lead effectively. The only item I'd add is support. Making sure the delegatee knows we are here to help them get started.
    I dont get dumped on often. I'll volunteer to help with certain mundane tasks to enable my team to concentrate on top priority items.

  5. Ron,

    This is an excellent guide to delegation. Proper delegation is much more difficult than it sounds which is part of the reason so many managers don't delegate effectively. Too often managers only dump what they don't have time to do themselves. Thanks for sharing.