Can’t let go? 8 ways to sort out your delegation

Do you find it hard to delegate? Bad delegation affects you, your team and your business. Here are 8 ways to improve your delegation skills.

Peter Drucker of the Drucker Institute saw effective delegation as essential to his ‘management by objectives’ philosophy. He provided some clear and simple guidelines about how delegation should be approached:


  • choose your delegate based on an objective assessment of his or her skills and abilities in relation to the task
  • give precise instructions; use simple procedures; show people how to do something and explain why it is done that way
  • show how each task delegated contributes to organisational goals
  • clarify expected results
  • develop standards of performance together; recognise excellent performance
  • discuss problems; answer questions; seek employees’ ideas about how to do the job
  • offer support; exhibit trust; keep your promises
  • praise positive achievements in public


  • delegate in a haphazard fashion
  • over-exercise your power; try to dominate people – be a leaderrather than a mentor
  • criticise people in front of others
  • overreact to problems or mistakes
  • over-control the performance

Here are eight helpful tips to improve your delegating skills:

  1. Watch for warning signs
    Hoarding work, and working long hours as a result, is a classic sign of under-delegating.
  2. Understand why you’re not delegating
    Could it be your ego? Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.
  3. Measure how you’re doing
    Sometimes you might not be aware how much of your time is being taken up by routine tasks. Keep a diary to make this ‘routine creep’ more visible.
  4. Choose the right people
    Confidence in the person you’re delegating to is a big issue – if you don’t believe people are truly able to do the jobs you hired them to do, you may have a bigger problem than a reluctance to delegate.,
  5. Integrate delegation into what you already do
    Good delegation is vital to the development of the colleagues or team members you delegate to; make delegation part of your process for creating staff development plans. Discuss which types of projects and tasks you will pass on to them so that they can build the skills they need.
  6. Ask others to hold you accountable
    Give your direct reports permission to tell you when you haven’t delegated something you should.
  7. Really let go
    After you delegate, your job as a manager is to observe and support your direct reports, not dictate what they do.
  8. Learn from experience
    Once you’ve started delegating more, pay attention to the results, and learn from your mistakes. It may take time, but the payoff is great.

If you’re finding it hard to let go of the reins and delegate, follow this approach to delegation. You can only improve your leadership skills and make a positive impact on your business.

Thanks to Mike Riddiford, Editor of CEO Forum and Amy Gallo, contributing editor of Harvard Business Review

Have you enjoyed this article? Click on the graphic below to receive more of the same:

Sign up to newsletter