Do you need to successfully delegate work?

We cannot do everything, and increasingly as web workers we are working collaboratively across time and space.  We need to delegate tasks and projects.  We have no choice than to delegate. So the challenge is to do this well, and have successful outcomes for all involved.

Using our 6 dimensional model here is what you need to do.

Know: Know what you want.  If you don’t know what you want, you can’t expect anyone else to. No one can be a “mind reader.”

Do: Express what you want clearly. It’s important to give people a clear vision of what you want. What are your goals? What do you need done? Providing instructions can be helpful too, but don’t overdo that aspect of it. The most important thing is that you express everything you want very clearly.

Values: Set expectations. It’s not enough that you’ve told someone what you want. Make sure expectations are laid on the table. “This will be successful if X, Y and Z happen.” And, “I need X, Y and Z finished by Friday.”

People: You need to trust those people you delegate to, otherwise you’ll worry too much, micro-manage and generally make a nuisance of yourself.

Learn: Let your people do it their way and give them as many resources as you can. Let people do things their way (remember the trust?) More importantly, provide enough flexibility that they can add their own flavor to the mix. Let them create. Let them add unique touches to what they’re doing and learn from them.  This is an opportunity for you to learn more about what they do well.

Integrate: Communicate and follow-up. Delegating doesn’t mean abandoning someone to do something until it’s complete. You want to be communicating throughout the process (rinse and repeat steps 1-4) and following-up with people to make sure everything is going smoothly. This isn’t about over-managing, over-analyzing and standing over people’s shoulders staring at their computer screens.  Communication is key, setting measurable mini-goals along the way, and carefully but not over-zealously monitoring progress.

In Susan Abbott’s post she quotes from a book by John Wood founder of Room to Read — “Nobody Ever Washed a Rented Car.” He didn’t originally say that, but when we think about delegating it’s a perfect statement.

The secret to successfully delegating work is to not just make people feel like the work is their own, but to actually give them ownership.  You want to tap into your team’s passion, interests and dedication.

Adapted from

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One Response to Do you need to successfully delegate work?

  1. Pingback: Leading academic projects – A self-study unit | Dimension 6 New Zealand

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