ActionCOACH Southern Indiana

How to be a Great Delegator

As we grow our businesses, we need to grow our teams, and with that growth comes both excitement and fear.  One of the most common growth challenges I hear about is that owners/leaders struggle with delegation, and if they can’t get their team to do what they ask, they might as well do it themselves, right?


Delegation is just one more skill to learn, and it really isn’t all that complicated to learn.  In fact, it is really just a communication skill, so being a better delegator is simply being a better communicator.  So tell me if this sounds familiar – you asked someone to do something, and while they did do something, they didn’t get the outcome you were looking for.  If that sounds like you, don’t worry. Delegation is by far the easiest skill to learn and the fastest way to get better results.

The #1 Reason Delegation Fails

The number one reason that delegation fails is miscommunication, and more specifically, mismatched expectations.  The delegator (you) requests a team member to do something, but even though you have a specific outcome in mind from the task, you don’t mention that.  The team member hears your request and without understanding the expected outcome (which you never shared), does something and is surprised to find out it was wrong or incomplete.

This isn’t bad delegation, it’s bad communication! If you have a specific expectation or result or outcome you are looking for, then you need to clearly communicate that and get agreement that the other person understands and agrees to achieve what is expected.  As leaders, too often we verbalize what we expect someone to be Responsible for, and internalize what we will hold them Accountable for – this is a recipe for failure!  But it is also easily remedied, as you simply need to include your expectations in your delegation discussion.

Here are a few tips to clearly communicate your desired outcome:

  1. Don’t get caught up in listing the “to-do’s” that will lead to the end goal, focus on the end goal itself.
  2. How will you know the end result has been achieved? Is it specific and measurable? If not, you need to more clearly define it.
  3. Get the team member’s buy-in on the end goal. Get their feedback and answer any questions they may have. Have them re-state the end goal to make sure they understand.
  4. Set a deadline to reach the goal, and make sure the team member confirms it.

There you have it – one simple change and you can be a more effective delegator instantly!  Let me know how it goes!

Author: Mark McNulty, Business Coach