How to delegate work

Woman at desk

When it comes to delegating tasks or projects to others, there are some key stages needed to achieve the desired results whilst developing and motivating the people around you.

Here are some practical tips on how to to delegate work, aimed at improving your delegation skills and confidence:

  • Be clear why you are delegating the work
    Consider whether your motivation to delegate the task is fair and worthy. Great reasons for delegating work include enabling you to concentrate on higher level tasks; using it as a platform for development; or raising the individual’s profile within the organisation.

    Ask yourself whether you are prepared for someone else to undertake the work in a different way to yourself and whether you will be able to stand back to allow the person to learn how to undertake the piece of work?

    Looking for more help? Try our delegation training.

  • Consider the required attributes for the work and review all suitable candidates
    Having identified the core skills, knowledge and attitude needed for the effective execution of the task or project, select the most suitable candidate for undertaking the delegated work using a fair selection method, i.e. either on ability, moderate risk development opportunity (potentially requiring additional support) or recognition of providing variety and interest to team members.
  • Convey your reasons for delegating the work to the person
    Explaining clearly your thought process for selecting the individual, the reason for delegating the work itself, and the benefits to the person will help to ensure that they will be engaged in completing the task or project.
  • Explain what needs to be done and your expectations
    Provide the context/background to the work; what specifically needs to be done with clearly defined outcomes, expected timeframes and the reasons for them.
  • Agree timetable and format for progress reviews
    Ensure you have both agreed the level of frequency during the completion of the delegated work as well as the best method of review. You may for example hold intermittent face to face reviews with telephone updates if you are managing an individual remotely. Ensure at this stage you provide them with constructive and motivational feedback so that they are clear on how well they are progressing and what they need to do differently to get an enhanced result.
  • Set clear boundaries
    Establishing clear boundaries will ensure that the person delegated to will be clear on their authority levels and when they should refer back to you or others for decision making at a higher level.

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  • Clarify the resources and support available
    Effective delegation also relies on ensuring the person being delegated the work knows how to contact the key stakeholders and they have a clear and easy route to acquiring your support and guidance when needed.
  • Check that the person feels capable
    Once you have fully briefed the person you are delegating the work to, check their understanding of the task, what is expected of them and confirm that they have the skills and resources to successfully achieve the task. Tell them that you have full confidence in them to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Communicate new role to others
    In preparation for handing over the piece of work, inform the key contacts to whom you have delegated the work so that the key stakeholders know who to contact.
  • Plan how to recognise and reward success, effort and learning
    Carefully consider how you will recognise the person’s efforts and success in completing the delegated piece of work so that they feel credited for their efforts and motivated to take on board other tasks and projects in the future.

    Conducting a review of the work they have undertaken to establish what has worked well, what they would do differently next time and how they intend to apply their new skills and knowledge will also ensure continuous learning and development for them whilst you gain valuable feedback on your delegation skills.


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