The 5 Steps of Delegation: The Key to Productivity

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What are the steps of delegation? How can you be a more effective delegator?

Delegation can be a challenge for managers. Learning these steps of delegation can help you streamline your process and delegate in a useful way.

Read more about the steps of delegation and how they work.

Steps of Delegation

To give yourself time to do the valuable and high-leverage actions in this chapter and the previous ones, you’re going to have to stop doing low-leverage activities. You can do this by delegating—many lower-leverage activities do need to be done, but not necessarily by you. But first you need to learn how to delegate. Here are the steps of delegation:

1. You and the person you’re delegating to need to know the same information and be in agreement about how to do the task. If the person you’re delegating to can’t do the task without you giving them step-by-step instructions, you’ll need to spend a lot of time giving directions, and the leverage of this time will be low.

2. You can keep the tasks you like doing as long as you’re consciously aware of what’s motivating your decisions to delegate or not to delegate. If you give away a task but can’t let go, you’ll spend time on it regardless, and your leverage will remain low.

3. Monitor the person you’ve delegated to. Even if you’re not doing the task yourself, you’re responsible for it getting done, so you can’t completely step back. To monitor:

  • Check tasks at early stages (draft rather than a polished final report), so that people don’t spend a lot of time finessing something with substantive problems.
  • Monitor people more often if they’re doing something new or unfamiliar, but less often if they have experience with the specific task you’ve given them. (Monitor based on task-relevant experience, not experience in general.)
  • Take samples of the work you’re monitoring instead of inspecting everything. You only need to check enough work to make sure things are going well.

(For more on monitoring, see the “Testing” section in Chapter 6.)

4. When possible, delegate the tasks you’re familiar with rather than the ones you aren’t because it will be easier to monitor something you already know how to do.

5. If you’re delegating decision-making, monitor the decision-making process. Ask the person to reflect before presenting a decision. Then, ask a question to monitor how well she reflected.

  • For example, at Intel, when someone decides to purchase new capital equipment, she prepares a presentation and requests approval. After the presentation, her superiors ask her about her decision to confirm that she’s thought through everything.

Knowing how to delegate can make you more effective and help you build a stronger, more productive team.

The 5 Steps of Delegation: The Key to Productivity

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Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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