The art of successful delegation

Read Time: 5 minutes

Bobby Rae

Bobby Rae

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

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Delegation is probably one of the most important skills for any business leader to learn. 

When you do it well, you’ll increase productivity, boost morale and have a good shot at achieving your goals. Done poorly or not at all and both you and your team will suffer. 

Let’s look at how you can make big improvements to your team through successful delegation.

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What is delegation

Delegation is defined as assigning a particular job or responsibility and is an integral part of effective leadership. Through it, there are several benefits for leaders and their teams. 

Assigning tasks can help you to manage your time more efficiently, allowing the focus to be on higher-level tasks that require your expertise. This, in turn, can improve team performance and morale, as your team feels empowered to take on more responsibility and contribute to your company’s success.

Now that might make it sound easy, but some leaders struggle with delegation. Not only can this have a negative on your team but increase your risk of burnout

One reason for this is a lack of trust in the team’s abilities. That deficit in confidence is felt by those below you. Without empowerment and accountability, you’ll quickly find your team becoming demotivated and possibly looking for opportunities elsewhere. 

Communication and decision-making are further common delegation problems. As a leader, you need to be clear in what your expectations are, set achievable goals and ensure your team has the necessary resources to complete what you ask. Be sure to check in regularly with them and support as needed - without taking over the task yourself. 

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How to delegate successfully

There are a number of “best practices” that can help ensure you stay on top and consistent with how you delegate. 

First. Identify the task that you can delegate. Create a prioritization list and decide who on your team has the skills to complete tasks you don’t need to do yourself. 

Second. Be clear in how you communicate. Set out the task you want completed, your expectations, goals and deadlines. A ticketing system that tracks progress is a great tool to help you achieve this. 

Third. Provide feedback. This is not only letting your team know areas to improve but supporting them as they complete their assigned tasks, offering advice and recognizing when things are done well. 

Fourth. Review and build. Be sure to meet with your team after they have completed their task, discuss strengths and weaknesses and look at how you can help them to develop in their role. 

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Example: How Bezos delegated at Amazon

Amazon’s former CEO Jeff Bezos is a great real-world example of effective delegation. 

Bezos was big on testing and that included how he delegated to staff. He would test if people on his team could do certain tasks, review their performance and adjust as needed. 

As CEO, he was a big believer in empowering his teams to take ownership of projects and made decisions. He famously said failure was part of growth, so accepted that sometimes things don’t work the way you expect them to. However, as a manager, you know how to pick that up, review and help your team move on.

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