Are you really Delegating?

Home / Blog / Are you really Delegating?

Are you really Delegating?

Delegation is a management task that we often see gets confused.

Here is a quick reference guide when considering delegating to others:

  • Assigning work means directing people to carry out duties and tasks that are part of their job
  • Delegating work means giving people the authority to carry out tasks that are normally your responsibility. You are still accountable however for the task.

The key point here is that you can give someone else the authority to carry out a specific task and the responsibility for carrying it out, while you retain the accountability for it. You should not delegate accountability!


Here are poor alternatives that we have seen Managers use, thinking they are delegating:

  • Abdication – stepping aside and letting people sink or swim, leaving them on their own to work it out with no clarity, reasons or expectations, and not knowing if the person has the required skills to carry out the task. This approach is more likely to result in the job not getting done to your satisfaction, and the staff member losing confidence and potentially respect in you, as they struggle with the task. It could also have implications for unsafe work practices. Dangerous option!
  • Micro-managing – giving the task, but watching them closely, telling them how to do it, not leaving them any room for thinking or their own creative input. When micro-managing you may also not be giving the whole picture, just ‘bits’ at a time. This style results in time wastage by you, frustration by your staff member and potentially a decline in respect for you.


 These steps for delegation were developed by participants on a recent SeeChange program:

  1. Acknowledge that you need assistance.
  2. Identify the staff member that you wish to delegate the job/activity to.
  3. Explain the job and ask the staff member if they have the time to do the job – get engagement from the start.
  4. Seek confirmation that the staff member has the skills to complete the job.
  5. Outline the tasks and actions needed to complete the job.
  6. Provide all relevant procedures and instructions necessary to carry out the job.
  7. Set the timeframes/parameters.
  8. Check the staff member’s understanding of what is required.
  9. Explain that (you) the ‘delegator’ will still retain overall accountability for the job.
  10. Invite/encourage contact by the staff member if they need help or clarification.
  11. Check in with the staff member from time to time.
  12. Once completed, acknowledge success and provide feedback. Draw key learnings form the experience


Cole, K. (2005) Management – Theory and Practice Pearson Education Australia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *