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Delegation for Development

Delegation for Development The famous Dale Carnegie professional training program refers to delegation as “the hardest leadership task to perform properly.” In fact, it offers a three-hour training session dedicated to that specific topic.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the definition of the intransitive verb “delegate” is “to assign responsibility or authority.” One reason this leadership task can be so difficult is because letting go and trusting another person is often a challenge for many leaders. A second reason is that taking the time to assign and explain an assignment may feel tedious or be time consuming. Below are three additional challenges of delegation that many managers face.

Challenges of Delegation

Deciding what projects or tasks can be delegated
According to an article published by, the 70 percent rule is a good place to start. If an employee is able to perform a task at least 70 percent as well as their manager can, the manager should delegate the task. The rule itself acknowledges that the work will not be perfect but will allow the manager to invest time in work that only they can do.

Determining who is best suited for each project or task
Delegation sometimes stems from a subjective selection process. Instead, consider an employee’s past experience, current workload, potential for success, and passion for the work when assigning a new project or task. Also, allocate new opportunities to various employees rather than limiting them to a chosen few.

Setting reasonable expectations
Consider how long a task would take you as an experienced professional to complete and factor in time for a learning curve, or the correlation between a learner’s performance on a task and the time required to complete it. Secondly, consider what outcomes are likely based on the aforementioned 70 percent rule.

Advantages of Delegation

Getting more done faster
With more resources dedicated to a project or task, one can assume that more will be accomplished and in a shorter period of time. While the manager is not performing the project or task, they should still set aside time to explain the assignment and review the employee’s efforts.

Empowering employees to take on new challenges
When managers are able to delegate tasks and projects, this helps to develop direct reports into more valued and satisfied employees, and it helps to develop managers into better leaders. Good leaders balance the needs of employees with the needs of the organization. Delegating assignments can support both. 

Improving teamwork and collaboration
In a Salesforce survey with more than 1,400 participants, 86% believed a lack of collaboration was responsible for workplace failures. Delegating projects and tasks is another way to involve more team members in a common goal and to allow people who may not usually interact to join forces.

Best Practices of Delegation

  • Communicate what needs to be done and by when without controlling how. Employees may surprise you by proposing new and improved practices.
  • Provide organized training, if required, and less formal learning opportunities for team members to ask questions and make suggestions. 
  • Set a deadline for final completion of the project or task as well as interim milestones. This can alleviate both manager and employee concerns that the assignment is off target.
  • Establish performance standards regarding the format of deliverables and frequency of communication; additionally, explain how the assignment will be evaluated.
  • Schedule meetings in advance to review progress and address any challenges or obstacles.
  • Offer constructive feedback on the assignment at regular intervals as well as when complete.
If you would like more information about how our firm evaluates delegation and other leadership skills in candidates, please contact us to reach a Helbling search consultant.