Good Leaders Know How and When to Delegate Effectively

Effective delegation can be the difference between a productive day and a stressful one. Consider a time when you had too much on your plate. How did you ultimately get the work done? Did you work extra hours or exhaust yourself to get things done for a deadline? If so, you’re not alone.

Many new and even established leaders struggle with delegating. For some, delegating feels like defeat, while other leaders simply don’t know how to delegate. In truth, delegation can help you avoid burnout and empower employees. Keep reading to learn how you can stress less and delegate effectively.

What is Delegation?

Delegation is the act of entrusting a task or assignment to a subordinate. A valuable leadership tool, delegation is much more than pushing the task onto someone else. In fact, in the right circumstances, less senior employees can show off their skills. Effective delegation removes the task from a potentially overworked person and gives it to a capable person who has the capacity for it.

What Does Effective Delegation Look Like?

Effective delegation happens when a senior-level employee reassigns a task to a well-suited employee. For example, a communications manager asks an in-house copywriter to create the content for a new email campaign. While this could be done by the manager, the copywriter is just as capable and will likely benefit from the experience. Effective delegation is like a puzzle; everything should fit together.

Tips for Delegating Effectively

Knowing how to delegate starts with recognizing you need to delegate. So once you’ve realized you need to reassign a task, you’re already one step into the process. The next steps to take into consideration. A poorly delegated assignment can backfire and cost you many more headaches in its wake. Here are some tips for delegating effectively.

Self-Assess to Understand Your Current Limitations

Delegation begins with an assessment of your current workload, personal and professional responsibilities, and stress level. Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically achieve in the time allotted. A good leader knows their limitations and plans accordingly. There is no shame in delegating; the work still gets done. If you’re taking on too many tasks, delegating can save you from going underwater.

Evaluate and Order Your Priorities

Not all tasks are created equal, so you shouldn’t assign them the same level of importance. As you examine your workload, prioritize the tasks that only you can complete. Those tasks may require your level of knowledge, your abilities, or something else associated with your position. Additional tasks may be good candidates for delegating, provided you have someone with the skills required.

Pick the Right Person for the Task

Once you’ve decided what to delegate, you’ll need a delegatee. This is the aspect of delegating that drives some leaders away. Assigning a task to the wrong person can set you back even further than if you’d attempted it. You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Consider what previous tasks they’ve excelled in or any new training they may have had. You’ll also need to confirm your delegatee has the time for a new assignment.

Set Clear Expectations and Define the Objectives

Because you’re giving this assignment to someone else, you won’t have the time to walk them through every step. So, you should set your expectations when assigning the task. This way, your team member will have a road map as they attempt something new. You can also refer to these expectations when reviewing the work later.

Provide Guidance, but Don’t Micromanage

While you should pick the right person for the task, you shouldn’t leave them to handle it alone. After all, it was your assignment. Be available in case your team member has questions, especially if the task is new for them. Alternatively, try not to micromanage either. You reassigned the task to focus elsewhere. Micromanaging takes up more of your time and frustrates employees.

Be Ready to Give Feedback and Input

In addition to being available for questions, you should be ready to give feedback once the work is complete. You’ll review the work just as you would if you completed it yourself. If revisions are required, your team member should receive the necessary notes to make the desired changes. Additionally, you can encourage professional development by providing feedback to employees working on new assignments.


The Benefits of Delegating 

Delegating does more than remove a task from your “to-do” list. It can change your work day for the better and even serve as professional development for less senior team members. As you practice delegating, you’ll find a number of perks.

Avoid Burnout and Extra Stress

An exhaustive workload can easily disrupt your work-life balance. A poor work-life balance often leads to job unhappiness, stress, and strains on one’s personal life. You can avoid overextending yourself by delegating when you’re able. Then, you’ll be able to focus on the core responsibilities of your job.

Empowered Employees Show Off Their Skills

Delegating presents an opportunity for your team members. You can think of it as another form of professional development training. Employees will get to use upwardly mobile skills to complete a task typically outside their responsibilities. Many employees would appreciate the opportunity to earn additional experience, provided it did not add too much to their plate.

More Time for the Most Important Tasks

As we mentioned before, there are tasks that only you can perform. Too much additional work can pull you away from your core responsibilities. As a leader, if you cannot do your essential work, anyone below you may be disrupted as well. Effective delegation allows you to reassign that which can be done by another and focus on what must be done by you.

Bottom Line

Delegating a task is a great way for a leader to alleviate excessive work. It also provides employees with the opportunity to train new skills. Most importantly, effective delegation promotes a better work-life balance. You can delegate effectively by reassigning tasks to employees who are able to complete them in the time allotted. By delegating, you are empowering your team member and getting back to your core responsibilities.

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