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Demystify delegation

Spread accountability with minimal risk

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Many managers resist delegating work. Here are the questions we hear most often:

Is it enough to delegate spot tasks? Or should I delegate ongoing assignments?

It’s not an either-or proposition. Do both. Start by isolating a job with a clear start and end point and ask an employee to do it by a set date. Upon completion of that task, give the worker another one. After these two tests, reward your employee by turning over authority for an ongoing task that carries more responsibility and visibility.

How much authority should I give? What limits should I set?

When delegating a single task, you retain the authority. But when you turn over an ongoing job, you’d better be ready to pull back and say, “You’re in charge of this. You know what has to get done.” Yet, you will need to create a reporting system and set boundaries on the employee’s authority to avoid a power-grab.

Is it better to delegate in writing?

 It depends. When delegating an important or detailed task, put it in writing. Include a description of the task, performance goals, contact names and phone numbers, other resources and deadlines. The note should build on what you’ve already discussed. Caution: Routinely putting simple assignments in writing is a waste of time.

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