In our last blog post we discussed delegation and how vital it is when you are a manager. But it’s not about throwing every task away so that you can focus on one or two things…you need to know what tasks to delegate and what ones to look after yourself.

“Delegation is the discovery that your people are 100 per cent more capable than you ever realised.”

David Freemantle in Superboss.

What to delegate?

In ‘Making Delegation Happen’, Robert Burns lists the tasks which he believes make good candidates for delegation:

  • Routine – such as departmental form filling, sorting and prioritising incoming mail or emails
  • Necessity – such as fact gathering for reports such as inventory counts, sales figures, overtime records, classifying customer complaints
  • Trivia – such as organising a farewell party, relocating the water cooler, or deciding on a colour to paint the foyer.
  • Special tasks – such as specialist knowledge necessary at a meeting, or selecting a new computer system
  • Chores – such as screening unsolicited resumes, or compiling reports you undertaken many times before
  • Pet projects – such as redesigning new purchase order forms.


What not to delegate?

In ‘Making Delegation Happen’, Robert Burns lists the tasks that good managers should be reluctant to delegate:

  • Company rituals – such as presenting company awards or farewelling a long-standing retiree
  • Policy making – such as criteria for promotion, or granting credit to customers
  • Specific personnel matters – such as discipline, annual appraisal, promotion
  • Crises and dispute resolution – handling company emergencies, or mediating between warring subordinates
  • Confidential matters – such as counselling or issues relating to personnel data, certain customer information, salary contracts, security data, trade secrets
  • Tasks for which no employee is qualified – such as developing a computerised database (nor can you if you don’t have the requisite skills)
  • Relations with other companies – particularly if delicate negotiations are required
  • Delegation itself – Delegate directly to the person to whom you give authority to do the job. Nor should you request a subordinate to delegate onwards a task that you have given them


7-steps to crystal-clear delegation

Another strategy for successful delegation, this time from Kris Cole, author of ‘Make Time’. Whenever you delegate a task to a colleague, remember to work your way through the following points with the staff member:

  • Goal: Here’s the end result I expect…
  • Reason: This is why it’s important… Here’s how it fits in… Here’s why I’m asking you to do the job…
  • Standard: Here are the standards I expect…
  • Time frame: Have the task completed by… Here are the time constraints…
  • Resources: These resources are available to you… (people, funds, equipment…)
  • Help: If you need advice, here’s where you can get it…
  • Progress: Let’s monitor your progress as follows…


“One definition of management is that it is ‘achieving objectives through others’. You cannot hope to achieve all your objectives on your own – indeed you should not even try. Your job is to manage the operation in such a way that its objectives are achieved. If you cannot do it all yourself, you have to delegate. Successful delegation is the key to successful management.”

R. Kemp & M. Nathan in Middle Management in Schools, Blackwell Education, Oxford, 1989, p. 165.

If you interested in learning more about these types of skills or are seeking further training in a particular area you can contact us on 1800 998 500, email us at [email protected] or visit our website.