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Successful Delegation


Delegation often resembles an act of dump-n-run when what we are aiming for is an empowered handoff packed with clarity.

Here are a few things I have had to learn in order to experience the latter:

1) Ask more, tell less during the pass off. Questions open the other person’s mind and heart up. Open minds and open hearts are like sponges capable of sucking up information, details and the “why” behind the “what”  during  delegation. When expectations are absorbed in this fashion the outcomes are typically strong.

2) Negotiate. More times than not, it makes sense to negotiate two different aspects of the expectations.

  • First determine the sort of urgency this project requires. If it is an “urgent” a.s.a.p. sort of item, clarify it as such. Here is one way to do this: “This project is a stop, drop, and do it sort of priority for us because _______(fill in the blank). What would we have to change in our schedules to get this finished by the end of day tomorrow?” At this point listen and negotiate a reasonable win/win in terms of the adjustments needed to meet the deadline. These terms may include you offering some sort of support such as: “Since this is our top action item, I’ll remain accessible by text and phone. I’ll constantly watch my phone until we meet tomorrow to check this off as complete.” Should you make such an agreement, keep your word and remain available.


  • Next, it is often wise to negotiate an iterative means of accomplishing the delegated item. By iterative, you agree on and scope expectations around a first draft sort of deliverable. This strategy gets you started but does not intend to deliver a fully completed project right from the start. By working in waves, you allow for check-points and valuable discussions as you move from a 1.0 version of the project to a fully finished version. In this fashion, the delegated work unfolds in a creatively guided process and you don’t place undue pressure on anyone. You don’t have to hand off a huge amount of information right up front AND the employee doesn’t have to grapple with excessive details up front.

Hopefully next time you have something to delegate, these few tips supply you with valuable information.

Now that you’ve read this article, you might want to watch the demo clip on how these actually look in a real-time scenario.


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