Apply These 5 Principles For Better Delegation

DelegateDelegation is an ability that is not innate to every person.

Managers are often overwhelmed with their responsibilities, but don’t quite have the necessary skills to hand down assignments to their employees.

The good news is that delegation skills can be learned, such as on our ILM Online Course. While there are many theories on this, a great example to follow is called “the Five Rights of Delegation.”


Although it was originally intended for nurses, it can be applied by managers in all industries.

Principles Of Delegation

  • the right task
  • the right circumstance
  • the right person
  • the right direction/communication
  • the right supervision

The Right Task

The first and foremost thing to evaluate when deciding on what tasks to hand off to your staff members is if the task is appropriate to delegate.

Just because you are swamped, and need help to finish a project, does not mean that project should be completed by anyone other than yourself.

For example, staff’s performance reviews should be done by you, and not a senior team member who you fully trust.

Just because it may cause you to stay overtime to complete other tasks, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to hand off all assignments.

Items that are confidential or simply require a high-level of skill and experience need to be completed by you, the manager.

The Right Circumstance

Once you have decided that the task is appropriate to delegate, assess the circumstance.

Is the person or group you are assigning this to available to complete the assignments?

They may be busy on another project and not have the time available.

Furthermore, consider the project’s deadline to make sure that the person/people will have sufficient time to get everything done.

If the task is due Monday morning, assigning it at 4pm on Friday may not leave enough time to get it completed.

The Right Person

Not every person in your group may be the best candidate for a given task.

People are different, have various strengths and weaknesses, and different skill and experience levels.

You should consider the task at hand, and think of who out of your staff would be the most appropriate to get the job done right.

The Right Direction/ Communication

This step in the delegation process requires a two-way communication process in which the delegator properly and clearly explains what needs to be done and the person being delegated understands.

This may require the employee to ask questions or raise concerns if something is not clear, and the manager to double check that the message was received. This can be improved via Communication Training.

The Right Supervision

The last step in the five steps of delegation requires the right amount of supervision for the given task, depending on the employee and the circumstances.

If it’s a new employee, or one that is doing a project for the first time, a bit of micromanaging may be helpful.

However, if a seasoned staff is completing a series of similar projects, macro-managing may be more appropriate.

Solving Issues With The Principles Of Delegation

In terms of those 5 principles as detailed above don’t think that all will run smoothly. There are many delegation problems that might get in the way. For example, a lot of managers like to hold onto work themselves! How can you overcome this?

In order to answer these questions fully I have created another article called How To Solve The Main Delegation Problems That Exist. I’m sure it will really help you. Within the article I detail the main problems and then the solutions for each one.

We have a range of Management Training Courses you can choose from and attending our Management Development Programme covers delegating skills.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

LeaderDNA button

Updated on: 1 June, 2016

Related Articles

Arrow down

Search For More arrow