How To Effectively Delegate Tasks

When you delegate tasks to your teammate, you should also be delegating the autonomy and ownership of that task to them. If you don’t, maybe because you have worries about how they might complete it, you undermine the value of their work and send messages of mistrust.

First of all, think of the benefits of allowing your team member to take on more responsibility… They will take greater pride in the work and its success…They will work smarter and more productively…They will use more of their creativity…And they will learn more ideas for the future

So, how do you create ownership and allow them to flourish in their new-found responsibility?

Here are some ideas…

Show them the Big Picture: This lets people feel confident and create the best results. If you do this, they will know how this project or task relates to the bigger goals. Make sure they know how their success will impact others or the organisation, and your customers.

Take a step back. Difficult, I know, but essential. If you want people to have ownership, you have to give it to them. If you want others to own a project or task, you have to turn it over to them, and let them do it. Also, when you have mentally let go of the project or task, it’s easier to concentrate on the things you need to do.

Support. Once you have delegated, you then support. Be there to guide but not direct. Be a facilitator to. If it is their responsibility, they need to own it – if you rescue them by taking it back, you destroy their confidence and show them through your actions (however well intentioned) that they never owned it to start with.

Don’t tell them the answers: When you have handed off the project, people will have questions. You will want to answer their questions, but resist. Ask them how they will solve their challenge, rather than solving it for them. Listen carefully (an important part of your support) and help when needed, but talk less and listen more.

Talk about the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’: By telling them how the job should be done, you chip away at their creativity. Besides, you want them to own the journey as well as the end destination. So if you have an idea of how it should be done, let your teammate find or discover it, rather than show them.

Remember; what you’re trying to create are partners in the problem-solving journey. By allowing them to own the task, you get more commitment.

This is very different from them simply doing a task because you didn’t want to do it. Think of delegating tasks that will develop their skills and thinking abilities. That way, the pride in commitment grows and the instilling of ownership flourishes

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 31 January, 2011

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