Four W’s (and an H) of Delegation


When you become a manager, delegation quickly becomes a huge part of your job. It’s exciting, but also a little daunting. Below is a little snippet from Nomadic’s new Delegation module.

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When you do it right, delegating can motivate teams to work harder, more confidently, and more successfully. But if you delegate carelessly, it can demotivate people and put the team’s trust in you at risk. Not good.

Here are a few things to think about each time you consider delegating a particular task:

What: Before passing a task onto someone else, make sure you are crystal clear about what the task is and have a good idea of what the results should look like. Ask yourself:

  • Can you clearly articulate what the project entails and answer questions your team might have?

  • Is there room in this project for the sort of creativity that a fresh perspective would provide?

Who: Knowing your people and delegating accordingly will show your team that you have confidence in them. But assigning tasks randomly can have the opposite effect.

  • Who is the right person for this job?

  • Have I prepared this person to succeed at this task?

  • Does this person have the time, skills, and support necessary to do this job well?


When: Knowing when your task is due and properly communicating that is a no-brainer. But there’s more to it than that. Understanding the task’s level of urgency will help you decide who should do it and how much support they will need.

  • How urgent is this project?

  • Do you have time to properly explain it to your team before it’s due?


Why: The reason this task exists matters — to you and your team––matters.

  • Why is this task important?

  • Why have you chosen this particular person to complete it?

How: Having a firm grasp on how you’ll manage the whole delegation process is key.

  • How does this task fit into the bigger picture of success for your team and for the person you’re delegating to?

  • How will you go about delegating it, and how should the person go about completing it?

  • How will you support them? (or stay out of their way)?

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After a Framework like this, we ask learners to respond with their thoughts and experiences. If you’re a manager, how do you handle delegation? If you’re not, how could your manager be a better delegator?

Carolyn Ruocco

Associate Director, Written Content


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