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Delegation - 5 Tips to Effective Delegation

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Expert Author Meggin McIntosh

Everyone in business talks about delegating and unfortunately, very few are good at it. You can immediately increase your effectiveness as a delegator by integrating these tips into your repertoire.

  1. Delegate selectively. First, you have to consider whether a particular task even needs to be done at all. If so, you then have to determine who would be the right person to handle it, if it is not to be done by you. Being selective both about the tasks and the delegatees indicates wisdom and leadership (both excellent qualities!)
  2. Check in as often as necessary, but not more often. No one likes a micromanager and when you check in too often, you're viewed as a micromanager/control freak. On the other hand, if you do not check in often enough, your project could get derailed and you don't even know it. Also, the person to whom you delegated may wonder a) whether you are interested in the project, b) if they should "bother" you with questions, or c) if the project is still a priority or not. Determine, along with the person to whom you delegate, how often and in what manner you'll be checking in.
  3. Remember that you own the responsibility even when you have delegated the task. This is a key principle that poor delegators do not understand. Delegating a task or project does not mean you have shifted the responsibility. You haven't. You have only brought someone else in to help with the task(s) and so it is your responsibility to ensure that the overall task or project is completed on time, within budget, and up to specs.
  4. Delegate progressively; avoid delegating too much too fast. You will never regret having started small but will almost assuredly regret having delegated too much too early. Delegating small portions gives you and the person to whom you are delegating a chance to figure out the best working relationship. It also allows for early course corrections, if needed. It allows both of you to gain some confidence and some successes, which only leads to additional trust and success.
  5. Delegate, don't abdicate. Delegation is NOT dumping tasks or responsibilities on someone else. Delegation is a transaction. You are asking and the other person is consciously and deliberately accepting. It is actually far more complex than that, however. Delegation rarely involves a simple "ask" and simple "accept." You can be thankful for those times, but know that the transactive nature of delegation means that there is an exchange and usually, a back and forth discussion.

Consistently skilled delegation comes about through practice, experience, growth, structure, and coaching. Take some time this week to integrate at least one of the ideas shared in this article. See what you learn and then apply that knowledge - along with another one of the ideas. You will be an effective delegator and more productive, too!

And if you are seeking more ideas about the specifics of delegation, access the 5-hour training package I did recently on "Deputize...Then Delegate." You'll receive a hefty handout packet and downloadable MP3s--a total of nearly 5 hours of instruction. It will make a world of difference.


(c) 2010 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., "The Ph.D. of Productivity"(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh works with bright people who want to be more productive so that they can consistently keep their emphasis on excellence. It's a blast! Learn more here:

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