Understanding the Art of Delegation


Delegation is the answer to most problems you have as a manager or leader at work or in your personal life. It is the answer to your inability to get it all done, exhaustion at the end of the day, and a brain that can frazzle when several projects are demanding attention at the same time.

Delegation, used as a noun, is a group of people working toward the same purpose. Delegation, as a verb, means managing a group of people toward the same purpose. In this article, you will develop a vision for leading a delegation that is excellent, successful, and goal orientated. You will see how the foundation of delegation requires planning. But most of all, you will learn that delegation is the most effective strategy for getting any job accomplished in a timely manner, and at the highest quality of workmanship.

Focus Points:

1. You must make a decision to delegate and develop a plan with follow-through, or it won't happen.

  • Every manager, boss, or leader thinks they delegate. Just ask one. However, delegating involves much more than handing out assignments, putting up an organizational chart, or distributing a few tasks. True delegation takes planning, preparation, and the ability to open yourself up to others. That means, at least initially, it will take some work. It means, in the long run, it will build your team, strengthen your mission, and best of all, give you the freedom to focus your work where it really counts.

  • Every plan begins with an inventory of your own personal goals, your own strengths and talents and, most importantly, a self-analysis of your current style of leadership. It's getting a baseline – a beginning point. You have to know where you are, before you can get to where you want to be. Knowing these things allows you to measure how far you have come, and how far you have to go. It is often difficult to see progress from a subjective perspective. However, if you can track accomplishments, work completion, and other measures of success, you will get a definitive and objective view of the forward movement, as well as all of the pieces that are working together. Being able to track what is happening, using the data from real events or products, will give you the confidence to continue in this direction that puts the best-run organizations at the top.

  • Delegation is an active, ongoing part of an efficient team of any size. It incorporates a leader, a plan, and clearly stated goals and objectives with data that shows progress. The plan must include the mission or vision of the group, specify a person who is responsible for each piece with built-in data collection methods for both communication between the members, and to track progress objectively. It requires communication skills -- both written and verbal -- regular team and individual face time, and an ability to move and change with the progress, or lack thereof, as shown by the data. It is a work in progress, being continually fluid, as the leader and the team adjust the objectives that step them toward their goals or their vision.

2. Appropriate delegation has been proven to produce employees who buy into the company vision, thus giving their best efforts, managers who find more success in achieving their own goals, and a workplace that is effective, positive, and productive.

  • The data collected presents a definitive picture of several key issues.

  • First this process of delegation will give you a solid and viable plan to follow. The plan will spell out specifics about what the goals are, who is responsible for each part, how the progress is to be reported, and state dates and times to review those reports. With this simple strategy, everything you are about is above board, clearly stated, and put out on the table up front. Each person in your team will know how the group will be proceeding toward the outcomes. Each team member will be aware of the fact that each person has been given a task that complements the talents and abilities of the group, as a whole, as well as that of each individual.

  • The second key is that a plan sets up the organization for clear communication about the work, the milestones for each person, as well as for the team, and a visible approach for assessment of work completion and the depth of that work. It also supports an openness about how to use the strengths and weaknesses of the individual.

  • The third key point is that this kind of plan has natural built-in moments for coaching, personal improvement goals, and personal development between members. When you delegate with a plan, your company will be set up to work in a supportive and positive manner, create a productive group, and drive individuals toward their personal best.

  • Unfortunately for some employees, it brings to the surface those who hide behind the work of others, fail to do their share of the work, or are lacking in the skills required. This is key for the leader who evaluates both the team and the individual. The data collected and efforts to support employees within the group will be evidence used in self-evaluation, as well as the employee evaluations that a company demands. It is the perfect start to working with that employee to make a turn-around or a choice to find a job with a better fit.

3. A plan to delegate begins with a simple organizational chart that entails four main parts, and functions to both monitor and assess the completion of each objective through products, data, or demonstration.

  • Part one of the plan is to write the vision for the organization, the company or the team at the top of the plan. This will set the umbrella under towards which all goals will move. It will keep the eye of the manager and his group on the larger picture. The plan will keep the wheels moving in the right direction, at the right speed, and with the right personnel. This vision is not written by the team but by the ownership of the company. The strength of individual goals is only as good as the clarity of the company vision.

  • Part two of the plan is defining goals for the task. The task may be a routine part of the daily job or a project your company has been hired to do. These goals will be stated as "SMART" goals. They will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. This means that each goal will be stated in such a way that anyone can understand exactly what is called for. It will leave no room for inaccurate interpretation. It will clearly frame how the goal will be measured, given in terms that can be managed effectively, measured, and put into a time table that is realistic yet set to meet any deadline.

  • Part three is the development of objectives. This piece takes the goals and breaks them down into steps toward reaching that goal. Every project, routine job, or goal is attained through a series of steps. Each step must be listed under each goal, again in specific language, using words that clearly cite the exactness of this objective requirement, the completion date, and data that demonstrates the quality and correctness of the objective.

  • The fourth part of the plan is to list the names of the person responsible for each objective toward meeting each objective or each goal. Remember that the goal is broader while the objective is the more specific steps taken in reaching that goal. One person might be assigned the goal with an understanding that they are also responsible for each step in reaching the goal. Or different people might be assigned different objectives because of their individual experience or skills. Most often the manager will be tracking the goals and the objectives will be assigned to employees. In a large group the manager might assign a person to track goals or a "goal tender" and then that person report back to the leader.

As the monitoring dates approach, the leader of the team, or the assigned "goal tender," will set up a meeting with the individual or group that has that responsibility. It is during this meeting that the leader will assess success in meeting the objective, make changes as needed with personnel, or the time line, or the way the objective has been stated. The exchange between this leader and the employee at this point is of high importance to the accomplishments of the team and of the company. It is during these pointed meetings that listening becomes as crucial as speaking. It is at this juncture that the leader will make decisions about employee coaching, or possible movement of assignments to give more or less responsibility. He must be able to evaluate and note all progress made for reports to his own supervisor.

During this part of the delegation plan, the manager is able to demonstrate to an employee his need for skill development, his strong abilities that support a promotion, and construct feed-back in a non-critical method. The data will speak for itself. The manager will take this information and work to build a stronger and more effective team.


Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Delegation Skills course?

The leader or manager pulls his team together and relates the current job they have been given. The manager pulls out the delegation form he has developed to plan with his team. The company vision is clearly stated across the top and the team has a discussion that reviews their part in that vision. This may seem like a redundant issue but continual reminders about who they are, what the greater purpose is, and how they are part of the overall picture is an important part of staying focused on the work.

The leader will have the goals they need to meet with a time line already worked up. This must be related to the team with an open mind getting feedback about the feasibility and challenges. The leader will make adjustments as needed until the team feels the goals are clear, specific, and manageable. They discuss various methods for reaching the set goals, one at a time. The objectives that will step the team to the completion of each goal are developed with a timeline set for monitor meetings, with stated requirements that will clearly demonstrate that the objective has been reached, and then a measurement about how those requirements will be assessed.

The team discusses the skills and experience needed to complete each objective, and who would best accomplish it. An assignment of objectives is made by the leader and he determines any need for mentorship, coaching, or additional training to support the members. The team moves to the next goal and follows the same procedures.

The leader leaves the employees to work on the job, knowing each job has been suited to each worker and each one knows exactly what the expectation is, what the time factors are, and how their work will be assessed. The leader is now free to do the training, coaching, planning on the next job, have the time to monitor other jobs and evaluate the work. His time is spent communicating this work with his boss, reviewing the work and advising his employees. He is able to use his own skills and talents to meet his own goals and to keep the organization moving through the challenges, the changes that invariable come up, and satisfying himself and his employer that the work is on target for finalization in the time provided.

At each monitor date, which is where the leader will be using his skills to assure the work is correct and the time is being used efficiently, he will look at the demonstration of the data stated, assess the quality as to stated requirements, and lead the individual or group onward and upward. He will set meetings to correct deficits in individual skills, spend time acquiring equipment or solutions to problems his team is experiencing, and run in front of his team to assure they have what they need to accomplish their goals. The work of those whose focus is on the objectives should not be littered with having to find their own supplies, work space, or other essential materials.

An effective plan will clear the field of traps, smooth the bumps from the road, and serve to guide people through the process. If a manger can delegate, the work will improve in every way.

Set up your physical or computerized notebook:

In this section, you will begin the process of developing your own delegation plan of action, so by the end of this class. you will walk away with a specific guide on how delegation can be used in your own workplace. The ideas found here (in these examples) are only given as a guide to be shaped to match your needs.
In this article, your first assignment in the development of your notebook will be to make at least one template for planning that fits your personal business or organization.
Examples are given that you may copy and use and adjust as needed.

Company Vision Statement Here

We Pride Ourselves On Quality Work Without Exception

SMART Goal written here

We will produce a marketing plan for Gem Company that can be shaped and used with all forms of media, that demonstrates their products, their mission, and their excellent reputation, that receives 90% or above scores from peer review surveys within our own team and a 95% or higher score at first review from Gem Company on March 3, 2018.

Goal Start Date: February 3, 2018 Goal End Date: March 3, 2018


1. Brainstorm ideas/various sketches/and words that will catch the eye of the target.

Assigned to:

George W

Samantha M

Cathy G

Progress Data:

Data will include at least 3 mock ideas, each in color and demonstrated for print, television and a computer website. (That is a total of 9 products)

Monitor Dates:

By Feb. 15, 2018.

Sign off:

By manager that this monitor date has been met.

2.Develop a catchy slogan using paying attention to the mock ideas being constructed and working in conjunction with that group.

Mary B.

Progress Data:

Data will include 3 possible slogans that will fit with the mock ideas and be agreeable to at least 2/3 workers in Obj. #1. It will be given to them to work into their pieces.

By Feb. 9, 2018

By manager after at least 2/3 approval.

3. Communication with Gem Company

Andy R.

Data will include contact person, dates, methods and a summary of each with feedback.

Feb. 4,7, 9, 13, 16 and by March 3

By manager

4. You might have a different team take each mock idea and develop further if your company has been hired to do that.



1. How does delegation benefit an organization?

2. Why is a plan for delegation important?

3. What are the four basic parts to any delegation plan?

4. What are SMART goals and how do they keep a job moving and on target?

If you are unsure of these considerations, go back and review the material.