The number one problem for new managers is believing they have to do it all and show that they can get things done. This can result in conflict, frustration,  and even burn out. As a leader focusing on listening delegation is a tool to be both more effective and efficient. The lack of delegation is a major issue for many managers. This commentary explores delegation, obstacles to delegation, effective delegation, six key elements of delegation, benefits of delegation, and gives you links to both the delegator’s checklist and the delegatee’s check list.




You only have so much time and you need balance in your life too. You need to master and use many tools to maximize both your productivity and quality of life at work and at home.

One of your most important tools is delegation.

 You need to learn how to delegate and to let it go, but how do you ensure a quality, timely outcome. More on that later with the checklists being provided to you at the end of this commentary.


Obstacles to delegation


Many times, obstacles are perceived, and are not necessarily actual obstacles at all. Let us take a look at actual and perceived obstacles.

It is always difficult to give someone a task to do when you know you are capable of completing it yourself. You do not know what will happen. It is sometimes easier to hold on to the task rather than to delegate it to someone else. Instead of delegating, you become skilled at finding reasons for not delegating.

Below are listed a series of obstacles. Read them and place a “P” by those that are perceived and an “A” by those that are actual obstacles. At the bottom an interpretation of each is presented based on research.

  1. The job needs to be done now, and you can do it quicker and better yourself
  2. You do not know how to delegate
  3. You have not fully made the transition from technician to leader
  4. Fear that the employee will not be able to handle the assignment
  5. Fear of competition from employees
  6. You want the credit
  7. Fear of loss of control and authority
  8. Fear of taking risks
  9. Fear that upper management will think you cannot handle the job
  10. Reluctance to delegate chores or trivia
  11. Failure to see delegation as a means of developing employees’ capabilities
  12. Belief that employees are not accountable
  13. Belief that it takes longer to explain than to do it yourself
  14. Fear that privacy implications may legally prevent you from delegating the activity
  15. You like to do the activity and want to do it yourself


Based on experience the following are actual obstacles are: 2, 8, 10, 14 and 15

The others: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13 are perceived. However, there can be unusual exceptions in some instances. Many times, managers do not delegate tasks because it is a risky decision. After all, you are the one who is going to be ultimately responsible for the outcome of the work.


Effective delegation


Delegation is a tool that allows you the opportunity to assign a task to another person (usually an employee or another team member) that you would otherwise complete yourself.

In addition to assigning the task, delegation involves giving the individual latitude to make decisions about ways to complete the task. With delegation, the individual to whom the task is delegated is held accountable for the results of the task. However, delegation does not mean dumping your job to another person and walking away.

When delegating, you always monitor and control the task you delegate because your ultimately are responsible for their completion.

 You are also accountable for the results of the tasks you have delegated. Establishing trust is a process. Trust has to be earned. Trust will not happen overnight. That means that it may take you a while to shed self-delegation.

It may be that you self-delegate because you have extreme confidence in your technical ability, but not in that of your employees. Remember you were promoted to manage and to lead your work group, not to do work what that could be done more effectively by them. That is the essence of “letting go.” You are evaluated as a manager, by how well your team performs not by how well you carry out tasks. You need to develop others to be a better team.

Delegation must be done properly to be effective. A key concept of delegation is that delegated tasks are developmental.


Six key elements of delegation


A delegated task is a special task that is not part of someone’s current responsibilities. It is not just assigning additional work; it is providing a chance for continuing professional development. While delegation does not change an employee’s work assignments, it does offer a practical method for experimenting with his or her potential. For example, giving authority to others provides an opportunity to assess their performance in new areas.

There are six steps to effective delegation:

  1. You analyze the task
  2. You select a delegatee
  3. You pass the baton but not the buck
  4. Delegatee analyzes the task (look before you leap)
  5. Delegate executes the task (You do not execute the delegate)
  6. You have regular feedback sessions


Benefits of delegation


Each of us is limited in the work we can complete in a given amount of time. The only way we can increase results as a leader is work through others. The most effective way to achieve this is to delegate. Consider the positive results in each of these areas when delegation occurs.

  • Increases in productivity
  • Saves time
  • Eliminates trial tasks
  • Provides leaders with more time to manage, plan, direct, organize and coach
  • Provides self-development opportunities for the delegatee
  • Promotes organizational efficiency
  • Increases leadership flexibility
  • Increases job satisfaction of both the delegator and the delegatee
  • Cross-trains and develops skills among employees
  • Provides variety and novelty to employees
  • Improves the delegator’s ability to evaluate employees’ performance and potential
  • Lowers stress
  • Gives the leader a different perspective
  • Increases morale and motivation
  • Increases self-esteem (demonstrates that the leader values employees)


Links to the delegator’s checklist and delegatee’s checklist


From the book, The Servant Manager, there are seven detailed tips relating to delegation. Two of those tips are the 15 points associated with the delegator’s checklist and 8 points associated with the delegatee’s checklist.  These checklists are downloadable for free through SCRIBD, but if you have any problems, just sent me an email at and I will send you a PDF of each. Use these for consideration when you need to delegate to someone, or someone is delegating an activity to you. This will help you make sure that you are both on the same page. Good luck. Let me know how it goes and if you found this helpful.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]