Delegation is an essential leadership skill, yet one of the hardest to execute. That’s why it’s critical to learn how to delegate effectively to boost your organization’s output and productivity..

Learning how to delegate effectively requires more than just blindly passing the baton to someone else, hoping that this person ends up victorious. When the health of your business is at stake, delegating something is very challenging.

How does delegation teach you the value of time? 

Time management is ensuring that tasks and projects are finished in due time efficiently. To measure efficiency, you look at the margin of error in executing the task. 

This is when the concept of delegation comes into play. As delegation is about assigning someone else to a responsibility to accomplish a specific task or to “divide and conquer.”

The Benefits of Delegation

As an entrepreneurial leader, knowing how to delegate effectively has several benefits that could not only help you as the business owner but also contribute to the growth of the business and its employees.

  • Free up time for strategic thinking and looking for opportunities
  • Increased efficiency as more tasks are completed within the deadline
  • Work continuity, as even in your absence, work is still done.
  • Employee growth and development
  • Increased employee engagement

With all these benefits linked to delegating tasks, it is astounding to know that 75% of entrepreneurial leaders are still having challenges in this area. 

This is according to the Gallup study in 2014, where they studied 143 CEOs in the Forbes 500 list. 

Out of the 143, those with high delegator talent has an average growth rate of 1,751%, which is 112% greater than those with low delegator talent.

Image via Gallup

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Why Do Some People Find it Difficult to Delegate?

While the benefits of delegation are plenty and obvious, many leaders still don’t know how to delegate tasks effectively. As such, they end up overburdening themselves with too many responsibilities in the organization. 

Refusing to hand over control usually hurts the business. It lowers business performance since key tasks are performed by a small group of people. 

It also affects employee engagement since it makes juniors feel that the senior managers don’t trust them. As if that’s not enough, it affects an individual’s personal life since it forces them to spend more time at work and less with their loved ones. 

With all these negatives, some leaders still don’t see the need to delegate responsibility. Let’s review some of the reasons why people fail to delegate. 

They Think Delegating is Just Transferring Work to Someone Else

Most managers often think of delegation as transferring work to someone else. And since they don’t want to burden other people, they choose not to delegate and do all the work by themselves. 

While this selflessness is admirable, the lack of delegation has a devastating toll on the business as we’ve already established. 

To encourage more people to learn to delegate effectively, you need to explain to them the advantages of what you can achieve through delegation. 

For instance, when you delegate you not only make your workload more manageable, but more importantly, provide valuable learning opportunities to other team members. As such, it allows you to empower your employees with new delegating skills and opportunities for professional development.

By using this definition, you can see that delegating tasks is not a sign of weakness, but one of the things that define a great leader. Conveying this to your team can help you inculcate a culture of delegation.

They Believe They Can Do it Better

People who believe they are better at doing something often find it difficult to delegate. Such people need to learn how to delegate effectively since there’s so much to gain when you let someone take off some of your workload. 

For example, as the best at content creation in an agency, you risk not having enough time to deal with important issues like building marketing campaigns to attract customers if you don’t delegate writing responsibility to someone else. As such, you will have more time to perform important projects at work when you delegate tasks effectively.  

They’re Not Ready to Let Go

Letting go is not easy, but accepting that you need to learn how to delegate effectively is important. 

You can be the most important person in the business but the truth is that you cannot do everything by yourself. When you are nervous about the delegated tasks to your employees, remind yourself that your employees want to succeed just like you do, and by delegating to them, you’ll only boost your success. 

They’re Worried it Will Take Longer to Delegate than Doing the Work Themselves

Time is one of the key barriers to the delegation process. Those who don’t delegate believe that it takes a lot of time to assign work to someone else than to perform the job themselves. 

While this may be true, you need to treat delegation as a means to maximize productivity and learn how to delegate effectively. When you train someone to do the work you do so well, you will recoup the investment many times later when they’re able to perform that task as expected.

They Are Emotionally Attached to a Project

Sometimes, someone can be too emotionally attached to a project to pass it on to someone else. For example, you could have a picture in mind of the end product of a project you’re working on and don’t want someone else to take it in a different direction. 

They Feel Guilty

You may feel guilty when delegating work to your colleagues especially when you don’t have authority over them. Guilt is a powerful barrier to delegation since no one wants to dump work on their already busy co-workers. 

They Fear Failure

The fear of failure is a psychological driver for many decisions in organizations. When a leader feels that the best way to avoid failure is to do the work themselves, then they will not see the need to learn to delegate effectively. 

Skills You Need to Delegate Tasks Effectively

Now that you know why people struggle to delegate, let’s take a look at the skills you need as you work to learn to delegate effectively. 

  • Empowerment – When you empower other members at work, you provide them with the tools and resources to solve problems and achieve company goals. When you delegate tasks to your employees, you empower them to become better at their job. 
  • Coaching – Knowing how to delegate effectively involves developing your coaching skills so you can train someone else to perform specific tasks. You’ll be required to use individual and group coaching sessions to guide your team, encourage performance and support their career growth. 
  • Alignment – To delegate effectively, you need to understand your team’s capabilities to know who to assign a new task. You do not want to assign staff members tasks they cannot effectively perform.  
  • Relationship building – Effective delegation is built on the foundation of good work relationships. Through the act of delegation, you’ll have to collaborate, train, and mentor your employees. A good relationship streamlines this process and sets you up for success. 

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How to Delegate Effectively

Understandably, entrepreneurs have developed a sense of independence in executing their projects. Most of them single-handedly turned a mere concept or an idea to a tangible result or product for their business. Thus, they often have the mentality that they can do everything. 

Or, they don’t feel that they can’t trust anyone enough to execute it well to their standards. The reality is that this can only work during startup. 

But, as the business grows, demands increase and so do the tasks and projects to sustain and further its growth. Handling all of these tasks can prove to be overwhelming, even for a budding entrepreneur.

Here are the best tips on how to delegate effectively:

Identify Your Tasks That Can Never Be Transferred to Anyone Else

As you learn how to delegate effectively, you should keep in mind that not every job can be delegated. Some tasks are business-critical or strategic and would benefit from your attention.

Before handing over a task to someone else, evaluate the importance of the task and the implications of passing it over. 

However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid delegating important work. If another team member has the experience and skill set to perform the job effectively, then delegating it would be a great option. 

But bear in mind that achieving the desired outcome remains your responsibility. 

Ideal tasks to delegate include:

  • Recurring work – Recurring tasks are often worth delegating to team members who have the time and energy to do them well. 
  • Work that aligns with an individual’s interest – If an employee has expressed interest to develop a certain skill or improve an existing one, assign them tasks that can help them build those skills. 
  • Work that helps a team member achieve their goals – One of the effective ways to delegate is to allocate work that helps an individual achieve their professional development goals. 

Be Transparent

Having a clear understanding of the goal you want to achieve is essential to communicating the task or project to someone else effectively.

Simply passing off work to someone else is not how to delegate effectively. The work you are transferring to another person should have proper context and a clear connection to the organization’s goals. 

Developing clarity of objective as you figure out how to delegate effectively includes:

  • Defining what success for the project looks like
  • Setting clear project timelines
  • Outlining the technique that will be used to measure accomplishment

When you provide context like this, the person working on the delegated task will know exactly what they need to do and by when. They will also be familiar with the metrics you will use to measure the effectiveness of their work. 

Find the Right Person to Fit the Specific Task

For delegation to work, you need to assign the job to the right team member. As the leader of your organization, your priority as you learn to delegate effectively is to create a situation where you, the business, and the employees have a wonderful experience. 

That is why you need to carefully assess your team members’ capabilities to know who can handle the delegated assignments effectively. 

Providing the list of qualifications required for the job is essential in nailing down the right person to carry the responsibility.

You should also consider a team member’s interests, willingness to learn, and working style when choosing someone for the task. Whenever possible, play to your employee’s strengths and choose someone who is:

  • Capable
  • Interested
  • Coachable

Inexperienced workers may not have what it takes to perform the job correctly. They may also require more coaching and guidance to deliver the job to the expected standard. 

If you don’t have the time to train an inexperienced worker to perform the work you want to delegate, then don’t select them for the assignment. You will be setting them up for failure when you hand them such a difficult job when there are other more capable individuals who can do it right. 

You should also consider how busy someone is before delegating a task to them. Overwhelming someone with too many responsibilities can lead to burnout and poor-quality work. 

Communicate Clearly

When others are involved, open communication is crucial to the success of the task at hand. Before you delegate work to someone, take time to explain the following:

  • Why the work is important
  • Why you’ve chosen them to perform the task
  • What’s expected of them
  • When the job is due

By clearly communicating your expectations, you make it easy for the team members to plan how to perform the task. Use one-on-one and team meetings to clarify project objectives and distribute work among the members. 

As we’ve already mentioned, ensure you delegate work to an individual based on their capabilities and interest to boost engagement. 

Additionally, provide the team member with all the information and instructions they need for the assignment. Clearly establish the completion criteria to make it easy for the individual to determine when the delegated work is complete and successful. 

It’s also important to set project milestones so you can check on the project’s progress without micromanaging team members. When you delegate a task to someone else, you need to give them time and space to do the job without constantly checking in to see what they are doing. 

While it’s important to avoid micromanaging team members, consider establishing a clear channel of communication so that the person you’ve delegated work to feels comfortable asking questions and giving progress updates. 

Use these tips to delegate effectively to establish a clear communication channel with your team members:

  • Define the channels a team member can use when they need to share project updates with you
  • Set times for regular check-ins with the team members 
  • Provide feedback throughout the project based on the assessment

Develop Your Team or the Person Doing the Task Properly

Proper training and development must be provided to people involved in the project or execution of the job. When you delegate a task, ensure the person you’re transferring the job to has the skills and resources needed to complete it. 

If they don’t, provide a way for them to acquire those skills through training. For example, if the person you’re delegating to needs to use a specific tool to complete the task, ensure there’s a plan for them to learn how to use that tool. 

If you don’t give them the right training, then you can’t blame them for not performing the task properly. 

Besides training, your employees may also need specific resources to perform the work you’re delegating to them. The resources they need can be categorized as:

  • Financial resources – Does the person need to buy something to perform the delegated task? If so, give them money to buy all the things they need. 
  • Human resources – Will the person you are delegating a task to need help from someone else in the organization to complete the task? If so, tell them who they need to reach out to for help in completing the project. 
  • Informational resources – Provide the team member with relevant training material to develop their skills to perform the job. 
  • Practical resources – Provide relevant supplies for the team member who’s performing a delegated task. For example, if you want someone to stack some papers for you, give them all the documents they should stack. 

Be Patient

As a manager and team leader, you might have more years of relevant experience in your niche. Because of this, an assignment you can complete in one hour may take an employee three hours. 

This realization may cause you to shy away from delegating certain assignments since you know you can accomplish them faster. That’s why it’s important to be patient with junior employees if you want to succeed in delegating work to them. 

Take a trip down memory lane to the first time you performed the task in your career. It probably took longer to complete the task than it does right now. 

As you developed your skills, you became more efficient and can now complete the task in just one hour. 

The employee who’s performing the task for the first time has a lot to learn to finish the task in one hour just like you. But as they become more familiar with the task, they will improve their competence and get the work done faster over time

Focus On Results

The other crucial aspect you need to keep in mind as you learn to delegate effectively is the importance of focusing on results. When you delegate a task, the goal is not to have the team member perform the task exactly like you. 

It’s okay if the person adopts a different working style as long as they get the job done. 

When you delegate and train an employee to perform a certain task, don’t focus too much on how they should perform the task. It’s advisable to provide guidance on how they will accomplish the task, but don’t spend so much time explaining how they should do things. 

Instead, you want to place more emphasis on the end goal. Clearly explain what the person needs to deliver and give them space to come up with the process of delivering the work. 

This allows team members to develop their skills and demonstrate to you that they can handle crucial business responsibilities. 

Trust But Verify

Learning how to delegate effectively involves assigning work to someone else and giving them space to do the work. You also need to check up on them periodically to see if they need any additional support while being hands-off to show that you trust them to get the job done.

However, as an effective leader, you are ultimately responsible for the success of the job and you need to verify that everything is going on well. 

That’s why it’s important to:

  • Implement a review cycle to follow up on the work that’s being done
  • Make recommendations to move the project forward based on your review

Give Credit for a Successful Job

When the work you delegated has been completed successfully, credit those who performed the task. 

As a manager, it’s easy to take credit for work done by your juniors but this could create more problems down the line.

Recognizing the success of others is crucial as you learn how to delegate effectively since it makes those who performed the task feel appreciated. Employees who feel valued are more engaged at work, and this will make you even more successful in the future. 

The more you credit those you delegate work to, the more likely they are to want to help you in future projects. 

Here are three ways to motivate talent in the workplace by giving credit where it’s due:

  • Make it sincere – Sincerely thank and compliment the team members for a job well done. 
  • It doesn’t have to be public – Some people don’t like public praise. In this case, thank the employee for the good work they’ve done behind the scenes. 
  • Share the credit among team members – If the task was completed by a team, ensure to appreciate and compliment everyone who was involved in the project. 

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When to Delegate

Another barrier that makes it difficult to delegate is that managers don’t know which tasks to delegate and when it’s appropriate to do so. Every manager has tasks that they should and shouldn’t delegate.

Knowing how to delegate effectively involves understanding which tasks you need to perform and which ones you need to delegate. We recommend performing a task audit using the rules below to know when it’s appropriate to delegate. 

  • Tiny – These tasks take very little effort to perform but they add up over time. For example, booking flights, scheduling meetings, and arranging meetings is easy, but the tasks are quite repetitive. Such tasks can be delegated to an assistant so you can focus on other important issues. 
  • Tedious – Tedious tasks, such as copying prospect details from your marketing tool to your CRM, are tiresome and monotonous. However, the tasks require minimal skill and can be delegated to someone else. 
  • Time-consuming – Time-consuming tasks can be broken down into smaller portions and some of the work delegated to others. If you regularly perform a task that takes so much of your time, find opportunities to delegate some chunks of the task to others. 
  • Terrible at – If you no longer have the skills required to perform a task effectively, it would be best to delegate it to someone else. For example, maybe you don’t have current design skills so it takes you twice as long to create graphics for your blogs. In this case, it would be appropriate to delegate this task to a professional designer.
  • Teachable – Can you easily teach someone else to do one of the tasks on your workload? If yes, then that task is a worthy candidate for delegation. 

Tasks That Could (Should?) be Delegated:

  1. Social Media Management

In the information age, a social media presence is crucial. Not all entrepreneurs are social media savvy. Thus, you can delegate this to an employee or freelancer who specialized in managing and scheduling posts on all your social media accounts.

  1. Daily Client/Customer Management

When a business grows, so do your customers. The last thing you want is to keep your customers waiting to communicate or hear back from you. Outsourcing your customer service and other management tasks can help ensure customers are well taken care of.

  1. Handling Administrative Tasks

From data entry, research, generating leads, or other administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, Virtual Assistants (VA) can handle all this for you. Ensure that the VA you hire knows how to perform functions that are assigned to them so you don’t miss a beat.


  1. What are the five principles of delegation?

The five principles of effective delegation are:

  • Right task – Identify the right task as you figure out how to delegate effectively 
  • Right person – Assess your team member’s skills and capabilities to identify the right person for the job 
  • Right communication – Clarify project goals and expectations when delegating a task 
  • Right training – Provide sufficient coaching to help the individual perform the job effectively 
  • Right supervision – Supervise the job to ensure it’s up to standard 
  1. What are the four steps to delegate?

The four steps to effective delegation are:

  • Identify the work to delegate
  • Find the right person for the job
  • Provide the necessary training and resources
  • Follow up and provide feedback
  1. What’s the importance of delegation?

Delegation helps you accomplish more as a team effectively. It also frees you up to do the important tasks in the business.

  1. Why do managers find it hard to delegate?

Sometimes a manager doesn’t have time to train another team member to perform a task. It could also be because they are attached to a project and don’t want someone else to take it in a different direction 

  1. When should I delegate work?

You should delegate repetitive work that can be done effectively by someone else. You should also delegate tedious tasks that keep you away from important work. 

Start Delegating Effectively

Although automation is an option, having a human touch can always make a difference in handling these menial but essential parts of the business. These tasks can often take hours to complete, which could eat up a lot of your valuable time. Outsourcing these projects will make it possible for any budding entrepreneur to focus on what matters most for their business.


About the author

From selling flowers door-to-door at hair salons when he was 16 to starting his own auto detailing business, Brett Shapiro has had an entrepreneurial spirit since he was young. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global and International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and years traveling the world planning and executing cause marketing events, Brett decided to test out his entrepreneurial chops with his own medical supply distribution company.

During the formation of this business, Brett made a handful of simple, avoidable mistakes due to lack of experience and guidance. It was then that Brett realized there was a real, consistent need for a company to support businesses as they start, build and grow. He set his sights on creating Easy Doc Filing — an honest, transparent and simple resource center that takes care of the mundane, yet critical, formation documentation. Brett continues to lead Easy Doc Filing in developing services and partnerships that support and encourage entrepreneurship across all industries.