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Four Decisions to Relieve your Delegation Headaches

Raise your hand if “delegation” feels like a four-letter word (%@&!).

Your know that it’s supposed to help, but it mostly feels like it makes things worse. The concept of delegation sounds nice, but when you try to actually do it all it does is give you more acid reflux and desires to use real four-letter words more often (f**k!!).

Well my friends, delegation is complex, but most of the time we just make it very complicated. Effective delegation is primarily about mitigating mistakes on the front end that would lead to unfulfilled expectations (for you and your employees).

Here are some common practices I see in delegation that will make things complicated and drive you to pop another Tums and use colorful language:

  • Creating a moving target of success, or what I refer to as “changing the rules after the game has started.”
  • Expecting to be able to hand something off after giving direction once.
  • Micromanaging and/or nitpicking.
  • Delegating too much too quickly, or delegating too early for a new hire.
  • Wanting people to meet expectations that only live in the delegator’s head.
  • Assuming that the other person “just knows how to do the rest.”
  • Miscommunications in what permissions or decision making power someone has (or does not have).

Communication plays a major role in the success of delegation, and a lot of it has to do with a gap between what you said and what they think you meant. So when you don’t have all the tools you need to make delegation effective, it definitely feels super complicated. That either makes people shy away form it, procrastinate taking action, or continue to see perpetuated problems with it.

I am often asked for THE solution to these problems. But unfortunately, and you may not like it, but there is no ONE thing that makes it successful. Rather, it is a mixture of things.

I’d like to give you a jumping off point. Here’s a basic recipe for the decisions that need to be made in order to see success:

  1. Determine what makes the most sense to be delegated. (Remember that it does not always have to be an entire task or function).
  2. Decide why this makes sense. What benefit do you see getting out of it? How will you use that regained time to your advantage? (This “why” will encourage you to stay the course when you’re feeling tempted to take something back on your plate).
  3. Determine who you will delegate things to. Decide who has the skills, confidence, interest, and capacity.
  4. Determine how training training will occur. (It does not always have to be you, but when it’s not you there are are some other things to take into account… I’ll save that for another newsletter 🙂 )

Delegation is one of the most common areas in which I help business owners and leaders reduce headaches. I have a number of resources to help you get started. You can find some of them on my website, or reach out to me and I’ll send you more.

The Excelerator Matrix: Use this to help you determine the WHAT and WHO for delegating… and a little bit of the WHY. Focus your time on the things that create a greater impact for your organization and yourself. Optimize how your teams support you in getting where you want to go.

The N.I.P. Delegation Tool: Nip delegation problems in the bud by using this to ensure that you are communicating the Needs and outcomes (what success looks like), providing all the Information your employee needs in order to meet your expectations, and helping them understand what Permission they do and do not have regarding steps and decisions.

The 5 Levels of Delegation: Implement this tool among your teams so everyone is clear on those levels of permission and autonomy that they have (or don’t). These are the five levels that create clarity around if you are delegating the task, the decisions, and/or the results.


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