Level UP with Delegation



How letting go can help you keep your valued employees and grow as a leader.


In our previous Level UP blog, we looked at making the transition from individual contributor to manager, and the tasks and mindsets that need to change – what you should start doing and stop doing. Today, we’re going to dive into how you let go of tasks and delegate effectively.

As a newer leader, you’re used to doing it all and you were likely promoted because you were really good at getting results. But now, you know that you need to let some things go and there are several important reasons why.

Why Delegate?

On the surface, leaders delegate to manage an otherwise-impossible workload. But there are other reasons why both leaders and employees benefit from the delegation process.

6 ways leaders benefit from delegating:

  • Higher Employee Engagement: most employees feel more engaged as they take on deeper responsibilities. They feel invested and empowered, and challenging employees with opportunities to learn and grow ensures they’re fully in the game.
  • Greater Productivity: delegation allows others to share in the workload, helping to achieve greater results and reducing your stress.
  • Greater Teamwork: effective delegation contributes to teamwork, demonstrates trust, and shares authority, allowing all team members to participate in a task.
  • Better Decisions: effective delegation can also result in better decisions. When individuals or teams are closer to a problem, they have more timely information, and can leverage their expertise and innovative ideas.
  • Big Picture Thinking: delegation enables a leader to step out of the day-to-day workflow and think more strategically for greater creativity and innovation.
  • Employee Growth: effective delegation provides individuals with professional growth opportunities; this enhances their confidence and value to the organization as they take on challenging tasks that require them to exercise initiative and problem solving. 

Barriers to Delegation

Handing over responsibilities is easier said than done. Maybe you’re protective of your work, you love performing a certain task, or you worry about your team’s capabilities. If you want to grow as a leader, delegation is essential.

There’s a simple way to tell whether you’re holding the reins too tightly. Ask yourself, “If I had to take an unexpected week off work, would key projects and goals advance without me?”

Have you ever thought or said these words to yourself about delegating tasks?

  • “It’s faster if I just do it myself.”
  • “I’m afraid I’ll forget to tell them something important.”
  • “No one does it better than me.”
  • “I don’t know what to delegate.”
  • “I can’t afford to hire anyone.”
  • “I’m too critical of other people’s work.”
  • “If I give up control over everything, things will start to fall through the cracks.”

You know that to grow as a leader and amplify your results, you need to grow your team. And the reality is, you can’t do it all and focus on your strengths without stretching yourself in too many directions.

Delegation is about handing over authority. The key to successful delegation is to establish what the tasks are, how they should be completed and what the final outcome looks like before you assign the task to someone.

When should you delegate?

Before you can entrust your staff with new challenges, you need to decide what you shouldn’t be doing. Determine what to give away and what to keep.

Make a list of everything you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Then go through the list and determine what’s essential for you to keep doing and what can be given away.

Good questions to ask yourself:

  • What are some tasks that someone else could do better?
  • What tasks do you “go back” to when you’re in a crunch?
  • What is hard for you to let go of?
  • What is a lower priority task you can delegate and use to develop someone on your team?
  • What are you holding onto that’s creating a bottleneck?
  • What are tasks that are no longer appropriate or cost efficient for you to do?


Here’s a useful template to help you decide what to delegate and when:

Who should you delegate to?

In deciding who to delegate to it’s important to first create your processes. Determine what the outcome should be and create the specific, detailed steps needed to get there. Look at the tasks being performed and decide what skill sets are needed.

Pick the right person —it isn’t always about who can do it. Think about…who needs to develop these skills? Who has capacity? Who has shown interest? Who is ready for a challenge? Who would see this as a reward? 

What are the steps to delegating effectively?

Effective delegation requires context. You need to explain why you’re reassigning a project, and how that project fits into the company’s mission. Next, tell the employee why they’re the right person for the job. This dramatically increases the chances that they’ll exceed your expectations.

Don’t stop there. Just as you wouldn’t pass the ball and walk off the court, successful delegators measure results and offer feedback. However, resisting the urge to micromanage is critical. The best way to avoid it is to assign the task, then let your employee figure out how to get it done. Give them the keys, explain the destination, and then let them determine the best route. This approach ensures that they feel challenged and valued, instead of having a backseat driver on the journey.

Key steps in the delegation process:

  • Define the task and purpose; be as clear as possible.
  • Tell the person your perspective on what successful completion of the task will look like.
  • Tell the person why you selected him or her for the task.
  • Ask the person how he or she thinks the task should be done.
  • Have a dialog about the approach going forward and provide alternative solutions and approaches.
  • Schedule how you would like the employee to check in with you.
  • Help the employee understand priorities during accomplishment of the task, and make sure you are available in accordance with the agreed-upon schedule.

Following Up

Instead of leaving people alone once you’ve assigned some work to them, establish specific times you’ll check in with them to see how they’re doing. You might even select a specific point in the project where you’ll review their progress.

For larger projects, ask for regular briefings to make sure you’re on top of the overall progress or big-picture view. Don’t micromanage how things are accomplished, just make sure you’re aware of the current status and available to answer questions.

Make sure the people to whom you delegate any task are given access to the resources they’ll need for successfully completing that task to your satisfaction.

Parting Thoughts…

It’s a process – just like building muscle takes consistency and time, so does becoming a good delegator. It’s a journey and a process so, be patient with yourself.

Sometimes you must force yourself – you’ll have to force yourself to delegate some work away—even if you don’t want to. Even if it’s a task you actively want to be doing, it may be better for you to delegate it away.

Be proactive – if you wait until you’re overwhelmed and on the verge of burning out, delegating a few tasks may end up stressing you out—and it may be too little, too late. Instead, you need to recognize when your work is piling up too high, as early as possible, and take measures to address it before it becomes too much.

Know your team’s strengths and weaknesses – before you start assigning tasks, you need to be aware of your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Each individual brings something different to the table, so to be most effective, you need to cater to those individual strengths. Using assessments like DISC will help you to know what your team’s strengths are so you can match up the right person with the task.

Invest time in teaching – it’s easy to say to yourself, “I have to do this, because I’m the only one that knows how.” Since it will take more time to teach someone than it would to just do the task yourself, it’s important for you to think of training as an investment. You only have to teach someone once, and at that point, they can take on that task indefinitely.

Give and receive feedback – take a moment to give and receive feedback once the delegated task is complete. Successful delegators know when to cheerlead, coach, step in, step back, adjust expectations, make themselves available, and celebrate successes.

Use mistakes as learning opportunities – to be effective, a leader must learn to tolerate risks and mistakes, and use them as learning opportunities, rather than as proof that they shouldn’t have delegated in the first place.

Be patient – delegation takes practice and patience. You may not know it, but others are waiting for the challenge. Your task is to provide it to them. Start small and ease yourself into it. Delegate small, low risk tasks first, then work your way up to something bigger. Eventually, delegation will become less stressful and more routine.


How skilled are you at delegation? 

Take our delegation assessment to find out!

Do your leaders need to be better delegators?

Through our Level UP leadership program, we help companies equip their front-line and mid-level leaders to be more capable and confident in mastering the core skills of leading others.


Do your leaders need to be better delegators?

Through our Level UP leadership program, we help companies equip their front-line and mid-level leaders to be more capable and confident in mastering the core skills of leading others.

Talent Edge Group is a global talent development firm that helps companies improve employee engagement and leadership effectiveness by empowering leaders with self-awareness and training them on essential management skills.

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