When delegation is done right it is a positive experience for both the manager and the team member. If you delegate tasks as a way to punish people I sincerely hope you re-consider your career choice. Most leaders understand logically that delegation is a reward. It develops people and can provide growth opportunities. In fact, if you look back at your own career progression you would probably agree that being delegated to played a role in your ability to advance.

Why then are so many leaders reluctant to delegate? One reason is fear of the unknown. They don’t know how the employee will react and are concerned about getting push back. If you are thoughtful about what you delegate and who you delegate to you can dismiss this fear.

The best way to get over this obstacle to delegation is to have conversations with each individual on your team before you start delegating to them. It’s a good practice to have regular one-on-one meetings with your team members anyway to keep the lines of communication open. These coaching sessions are a perfect opportunity to discuss additional responsibilities and find out what they might be interested in taking on.

Select | Direct | Connect

I teach the Select, Direct, Connect delegation model when I’m working with leaders on delegation skills. This is a 9-step model for effective delegation that goes like this:

  1. Select the task
  2. Select the person
  3. Tell the person why you choose them
  4. Assess the risk involved
  5. Indicate their interest level
  6. Assess their experience level
  7. Establish clear expectations
  8. Set the due date
  9. Give recognition

When you’re selecting the person to delegate a task to you want to consider how interested they are in taking on a task and what their experience level is.

Their level of experience will help you determine how much direction they need and their interest level will help you gauge how often you need to check in along the way. If you check in too often with someone who is experienced and interested they will feel like you’re micro-managing and that can quickly demotivate them. On the other hand, if you hand off a task and never check-in with someone who is either inexperienced or not interested they might feel like you are setting them up to fail.

Delegation is something that requires thoughtful preparation but don’t let that deter you from doing it. When delegation is done right it is a major motivator. It equals trust. When you delegate a task you are showing your team member that you trust them. It’s one way to boost morale that doesn’t cost a thing but has a high return on investment.

Delegation: Reward or Punishment?