Become a better delegator

Learning to delegate has been an interesting process for me! I explained some of the strategies and tools I use with me team on my recent blog at CIO.

In response to that blog, a new acquaintance asked me about how to get mid-level managers to delegate better.

In my coaching, whether mid-level manager and even CIO, there are two big barriers to delegation.

1) Ego/Fear

When faced with delegation, individuals struggle with ego and fear. They believe they need to be the one doing the work or fear that the doing the work is their value.

They may be holding onto the vestiges of their technical talent. They believe (or know) they are the best at a given project. Therefore, turning it over seem counter-intuitive and also MAY make them feel less valuable.

2) Lack of Process Documentation

Most people and organizations do not document as they go. They try to go back and document after the fact. When they do, they over-complicate their documentation, hoping to make it almost a complete technical manual.

Rapid process documentation is best built in small chunks, as you go.

We (my team) start with simple bulleted list. We’ll include links to areas in the document with more detail. But we also assume that some of those blanks can (and MUST) be filled in by the individuals taking on the tasks.

Allow Room for Discovery

As I was admonished by a peer when turning tasks over to my web developer/programmer son…

“Don’t rob him of the frustration and joy of discovery!”

Can you remember learning new technology under the gun? It’s a rite of passage we often try to train away – but that may be a mistake!

Our documentation needs to be thorough enough. Turning over tasks or projects (our delegation) needs to be clear on the objective but provide some leeway in the method. However, make, as part of the project work, basic documentation. A simple framework or outline and some tools that provide our delegatee a simple way to capture what they are doing can go a long way to becoming process documents.


In order to become a better delegator and to create better delegators in our organization, we must ensure that we extol the value of effective delegation (feed the ego) and provide enough (but not too much) process documentation.

Posted in career development, Coaching, Leadership and tagged , .

What do you think?