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How to delegate to your employees? Practical steps...

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” – John C. Maxwell

We all have to meet deadlines and the pressures of delivering results. One of the most difficult transitions for leaders, according to the Havard Business Review, is to make the shift from doing to leading. (Soustrin, 2017).

….We all start off thinking “I can do it all myself!”

...Maybe this is your chance to show off what you can do – and why you got the job in the first place!

But if you are feeling overwhelmed, then, it’s a combination of your demands meeting your capacity and your thoughts of what is possible.

You end up… working long hours, struggling to stay on top of your current work and having little to no engagement with your team.

Delegation doesn’t mean you should abdicate your responsibilities but it is recognizing that you can’t do it alone and shouldn’t do it alone.

Here’s why you have to delegate, and do it the right way…

  • It frees up your time focus on more strategic tasks and

  • helps you to develop your employees into future leaders and successors

So why do you avoid delegating?

Not delegating is comfortable, it’s safe and…

It’s usually because you are scared of


…not being “needed”


…looking incompetent

And …

It can be one of the hardest things for you to do. The ability to just “let go” and hand over the control.

It’s never easy to find the right balance, between maintaining control, quality and getting the results. Some people have mastered this, but it comes with intentional practice.

The pressure of tight deadlines, producing results and having an engaged high performing team leaves a lot of new managers with one option – just get it done!

Avoid looking stupid, incompetent, or worst … getting fired.

But as leaders we are tasked with key things…

…Removing barriers

...Supporting our teams

…Building capacity and

…Focusing on the bigger picture

I sat down with one of my clients to talk about her journey into management. The first thing that came out was the extreme overwhelm. She repeated, “it’s a lot”, “a lot more than I thought it would be”.

In my client’s case, she had a great onboard, but with the rapid-fire changes within her industry and the demands on her own leadership team, the well intended onboard was short lived. The amount of changes within her portfolio, HR, the deliverables and the personal development was an eye opener for her in a big way.

She was constantly putting out fires, and then moving on to the next thing, to even absorb what she “should” be doing. It became the never-ending hamster wheel. She knew she was ineffective but didn’t know how to stop. It felt like everything had to be done yesterday, and she had to do it!

If you can relate, then I’m the first to say, it can be stopped. After a few sessions, we narrowed down some of the key things that get in the way of delegation…

You believe there is not enough time to train your team to get the results you want

You don’t want to “drop the ball”

You believe you are always right or know what’s best

You feel you won’t get credit or exposure

You don’t believe your team is competent or capable enough

You don’t know your team and haven’t built meaningful relationships

You are worried about overwhelming your team

... If you are a new manager, you have to start somewhere. For the seasoned managers, change is hard, and it’s perfectly normal.

Here are few simple steps to help you delegate better…

Take a step back from your workload.

When everything is coming at full speed, this might feel like an impossible request, but pause, take a step back and look from a 20,000 feet view of your workload.

Make a list of what you are currently working on, and what is on your plate for the next couple of days to a week. This includes minor approvals, calls, check-ins, colleague coverage, anything that is taking up space in your workday.

Identify what you “should” be doing. From the list, highlight the tasks that only you can do, personnel requests, strategic direction, performance management etc. Remember you have one job – leading effectively.

Map out your team structure, list who is on your team, or supporting your team that directly reports to you. Identify their strengths, capacity and identify your aspiring leaders within the group.

Identify who from the list may or may not be able to take on more responsibilities. Narrow down who you can delegate to. Who’s the best person for the job? Don’t overthink it. Your choice should be based on their expertise and capabilities. This will help determine how much coaching, support and or development would be required to complete the task.

Plan for possible resistance that may come up from each of the members of the team. Not everyone will feel excited about more work, but it could be coming from a place of not feeling confident that they can do a good job. Use this step to account for possible delays or unforeseen challenges.

Meet with the team and/or individually. Share or re-share the vision, or goal and objective. This could be done through a team huddle. Don’t simply send emails giving instructions; this can be problematic if misunderstood.

Be clear on the goal, the timelines, and the expectations. Create systems and repeatable processes.

Give your team space for growth. Allow your team to volunteer for solving the problems, not just taking on new tasks.

Follow up. Delegation isn’t abdication. Be supportive, remove the barriers, build trust, and coach them throughout the process.

Simple Tips and Reminders...

  • Be clear and specific on what you want to get done (Point A to Point B)

  • Avoid telling your employees “how to” get things done, focus on what the problem is, the objective and the intended goal

  • Make sure employees are clear on what they need to do

  • Get them to confirm that they understand in their own words

  • Get over yourself! Don't micro-manage. Take small non-critical risks to build the trust, with you and your team

  • If you are struggling with trust, or your team is still fairly new, start with non-critical items to delegate

  • Set expectations and clear timelines, with indicators of what success looks like

  • Be open to providing and receiving feedback. Growth isn’t just one direction - be flexible with sharing what worked and what didn’t.

“You don’t build a business. You build people and then the people build the business” – Zig Ziglar

©2020 Koncave Coaching and Consulting,  All Rights Reserved.

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