Why, what, when and how to delegate -tips

Do you remember Susan? The main character of a previous blog? She was extremely busy. Probably overburdened as well. But after she learned how to leave her team’s tasks and responsibilities up to them, she saved more time and space for her own tasks. As a manager she started to feel more at ease and the relationship between her and the team increased every day. Her department flourished. Susan was happy, but again she faced the issue of time, which she still lacked.

Reasons not to delegate
Until now, the word ‘delegate’ was not a part of her dictionary. She was convinced that it was not done to pass some of her tasks on to the team members. They were already caught up in work, remember? In addition, she also thought that it would cost her too much time to explain what needed to be done. That it would be more effective to do it herself. Also, what if the result of the delegated task would not meet her standards?


Reasons to delegate
The prospect of having more time was the decisive factor. She knew which qualities were present within her team and she wanted to make use of these qualities. An additional advantage was that she could simultaneously encourage and motivate her employees to grow. As individuals but also the team as a whole.


Decide WHAT to delegate
First of all, she made a list of her tasks and divided these tasks into categories:

  • Which tasks do I have to perform myself?
  • Which tasks are suitable to delegate, and what would the risk of this be?
  • Which tasks could somebody else perform better?
  • Which tasks could somebody else perform just as well as I could?
  • Which tasks could someone else learn how to do?
  • Delegating which tasks would lead to more spare time?

She placed these answers into a matrix.
The green squares represent the tasks she felt comfortable about to delegate.

Decide WHO to delegate to
With the help of the following questions she approached the list she made before:

  • Who would like to perform this task?
  • Who has time and space for another task, or who would be able to create more time?
  • Who would be most suitable for this task?
  • In what will this person have to improve?
  • How could I contribute to this?


Instruction and guidance
Because it was new to Susan, she first began to delegate the smaller tasks. This allowed her to practice how to discuss the task in question. We explored how she could give instructions most effectively. How she could share her expectations of the results, the why, how, who, and when. She practiced how to let go of some of her tasks, the accompanying responsibilities and authorizations. She learned how to step in when needed.

After a while she noticed the enthusiastic feedback and positive results. This gave her the confidence to increasingly delegate more bigger tasks.


Not much is left of her initial concerns. Admittedly, sometimes the outcome could have been better but she also knows that ‘good’ is good enough. She has learned to expect fine results instead of perfection. Of course it costs time, especially when a task is being delegated to an employee who is not yet competent enough to do the job. Particularly at the beginning this requires instruction and guidance.

And maybe that would be a reason you do not think that delegating a task would be something for you. That is fine.

But Susan now strongly believes in the value and effectiveness of it. It is of mutual benefit to Susan as well as to her employees. It required some preparations but the employees now enjoy developing themselves. The collaboration has led to many improvements. The trust on both sides grows every day and Susan has more time. That was what she wanted.


Karen van Hout