How to Improve Your Delegation Skills

What is Delegation?

Delegation is the ability to assign responsibility and authority to direct reports and give them discretion in determining how to do their work.

The Importance of Delegation

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one who gets the people to do the greatest things.” — Ronald Reagan

Six Ways to Improve Your Delegation Skills

Would you like to improve your delegation skills at work? Below are six on-the-job activities you can use to help you get started. We strongly recommend that you do not try all of these at once; start by picking one activity and pace yourself from there. Depending on your schedule it might only be feasible to do one activity per week. Note that some activities will also need to be repeated in order to not just develop delegation as a skill, but to be come a more comfortable and effective delegator.

  1. Learn from the receiving end; ask a manager whether there are any tasks he or she can delegate to you over the next week or month. Pay attention to how your manager assigns the task, provides instructions, coaches you through the work, and gives feedback at the end.
  2. Make a list of your tasks. Sort them into three groups: 1) tasks that absolutely can be delegated to others, 2) tasks that may be able to be delegated to others, and 3) tasks that only you can do. Then, look for opportunities to delegate what can be delegated.
  3. Consider team strengths: Write down the strengths of each of your co-workers, and list 1-2 tasks you may be able to delegate based on team strengths and responsibilities.
  4. Check in on team capacity: You will only be able to delegate successfully if your co-workers have the capacity to take on the extra tasks. Have a weekly meeting to check in on progress and ask employees to share whether they have extra capacity (and if so, how much) to support the additional work.
  5. Clearly communicate the goals, objectives, and desired outcomes of the delegated tasks or projects. Provide a clear understanding of the expected results, timelines, and any specific guidelines or constraints.
  6. Think about whether your team has the skills they need to support you in any tasks you may want to delegate. If not, give them opportunities to shadow you, or collaborate with you on your tasks so that they will be ready to take over when the time to delegate comes.

Download the Delegation Competency Guide

These tips are a part of SIGMA’s Delegation Competency Development Guide. Download the free PDF below for a complete list of tips and tricks for developing this critical leadership skill.

SIGMA Can Help

Since 1967, SIGMA consultants have helped thousands of organizations across North America develop their people potential and increase organizational effectiveness. Explore our assessments, coaching, and consulting services below, and contact us if you would like to speak about creating a custom plan for your organization. Develop your delegation skills as a leader with SIGMA today.

Leadership Skills Profile –
Revised™ (LSP-R)

Take our flagship leadership assessment and see how you score on delegation as a leadership competency.

Talent Development

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Coaching with a
SIGMA Consultant

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Looking for More?

If you would like to speak with a consultant about how to build delegation skills at your organization, contact us below. We would be happy to share what we’ve learned from client experience and talk about the specific needs of your team.

Glen Harrison is an organizational transformation consultant and succession planning expert. Over the course of his career, Glen has worked with one-third of the Fortune 500 list and with every level of government in Canada and the United States. Having worked with numerous clients to build robust succession plans from the ground up, Glen has extensive experience in the application of SIGMA’s products and services to help organizations realize their people potential.

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.