4 Ways to Delegate Before it’s too Late

You waited too long to delegate if you’re going under for the third time. Delegation isn’t a life preserver for overworked leaders.

Desperation is a lousy context for delegation.

Practice proactive delegation:

#1. List your responsibilities and circle the top three where you believe it’s time to delegate authority.

#2. Get in the habit of making space for others to contribute to the delegation process. Start using ‘we’ more than ‘me’.

#3. Schedule one-on-ones with direct reports to get the ball rolling. Ask them to bring a list of their key areas of responsibility. Within their responsibilities …

  1. What areas could I delegate more to you, if any?
  2. Where could I ‘let go’ more?
  3. What areas could I provide more help?
  4. How could I get more involved?

#4. Seek feedback on your delegating practice from direct reports.

  1. When do you see me doing things others could do?
  2. When am I over-involved in other people’s work?
  3. What could I delegate this week?

(Items #3 and #4 are adapted from an article by Marshal Goldsmith on HBR)

Tip: Schedule a follow up conversation after items #3 and #4 to close the loop. Don’t promise anything. You’re exploring what could be, not what should or must be.

3 rules for successful delegation:

#1. Give high profile responsibilities to experienced team members.

High profile responsibilities aren’t development opportunities for unproven talent.

#2. Delegate to those with aspiration and openness. Don’t delegate to know-it-alls unless they already know how to do the work.

A track record of learning is essential for taking on new responsibilities.

#3. Schedule weekly follow-ups with inexperienced team members for the first month of long-term projects. Step back slowly and stay available.

Tip: Assign experienced team members to follow-up for you. In other words, give people a delegation-buddy that frees you and expands others.

What delegation practices have helped you?

What rules could you add to successful delegation practices?