How To Delegate The Right Way

Oct 11, 2018, Written by Sue Miley


I have worked with lots of small business owners, churches, and non-profits over the past decade and there is at least one common issue that plagues all of these organizations and the people who are leading them.

There isn’t a lot of delegation going on.

A critical part of time management and leadership is delegation but many of us aren’t very good at it. We tell ourselves it would just be simpler, faster, and safer to do it ourselves.

Benefits To Delegating

In the long run, delegation can:

  • Reduce your stress and free you up to work on projects that are important to you.
  • Develop your team and give them a sense of ownership that makes them proud to be part of your organization.
  • Decrease staff turnover, which alone can save time, stress, and money.

It’s true that delegation takes effort on the front end, but the alternative is you continue to do everything, you keep all of the burden and responsibility on yourself, and your employees feel they are mindlessly doing tasks.  And, you probably feel that way too! 

Here are some tips on how to effectively delegate:

How To Decide If The Task Is Something You Should Delegate

  • Ask yourself if this project or assignment is a good use of your time. Just because you can do it, and do it efficiently and well, doesn’t mean it is time well spent. So ask yourself if your skills would be better used elsewhere.
  • As a general rule, if a project is dealing with confidential or sensitive information, it should probably NOT be delegated. As well, if skillful completion of an assignment is critical to the success of an organization, it should likely be done by you and NOT delegated.

Who Should I Delegate To?

Don’t expect your team member to be as knowledgeable or efficient as you. As a general rule, delegate assignments to people to can do it 80% as well as you. As time goes by, your team member should grow in skill and efficiency if given the opportunity to do so. Remember this is about team development as well as managing your time and stress level! Here are some useful questions to help you decide who is a good person to delegate to:

  • Do I really need to do this assignment? Is it a good use of my time?
  • Who else has the skills and expertise to do this assignment?
  • Who has the time to devote to this assignment? What tasks will have to be reassigned to free this person up?
  • Who has the desire to do this assignment?
  • How independent is this person? How much supervision will be needed?
  • Is this an appropriate task assignment? As a rule, it is better to assign projects to those closest to the work. For example, if reorganizing the warehouse, it would make sense to delegate this task to someone who works in the warehouse.

How To Delegate Effectively

Don’t expect your team to do things the way you do them. They won’t be as efficient at first and they have their own style. While it isn’t good to micromanage once you have delegated a task, you also don’t want to give up all control. It is a fine line. Taking care to delegate with these things in mind should keep everyone on the same page, give an appropriate amount of freedom, and keep the project under reasonable supervision.

  • State clearly what you expect regarding:
    • Outcome –what should the final project look like?
    • Checkpoints throughout the project –when do you want updates?
    • Deadlines – when do you need the project to be complete?
    • Incentives/Consequences – give your team member good reasons to do the work and do it well. Generally, incentives and rewards are more effective in shaping positive behavior.
  • Confirm these things in writing to avoid miscommunication.
  • When the project is complete, show respect for your team member’s hard work by giving the completed project appropriate time and attention. Don’t you hate when someone pushes you to hurry and complete something and then doesn’t look at it for a week, or two, or never!
  • Give direct, honest, and tactful feedback. If the project isn’t done correctly, explain what hasn’t been done to your satisfaction and allow your team member to address what needs to be fixed. Don’t just take it back and fix it yourself.
  • Acknowledge good work and show appreciation! Nothing is as disheartening as working hard without recognition. Offering kudos to your team member, especially at a staff meeting, will go a long way in creating incentives for all team members to work harder for the good of the company.

Delegation takes work on the front end, but it is a powerful way to free up time for yourself and develop talents and a sense of ownership in your team.

In the end, as a business owner or leader, if you don’t take the time and train yourself to effectively delegate, your business or organization can never grow beyond you.  If you feel like you can’t grow and your organization is stagnant, you may need to look in the mirror.  Without effective delegation, you become a bottleneck to your own company’s growth.

It isn’t that you don’t have anyone to delegate to…it’s more likely that you haven’t learned to delegate!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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