The ability to delegate effectively is no doubt one of the most important skills for managers. A study conducted in 2012 by Lawrence Technological University reported that 70% of leaders state they routinely delegate and 20% state they delegate often. Yet that majority of managers report struggling with too much on their plate. More often than not – it’s not that managers are delegating too much but that they are not delegating effectively.

Some signs that you might not be delegating effectively:

  • Your inbox is always full
  • Deadlines are missed
  • You do many of the same tasks you did prior to becoming a manager
  • Subordinates frequently come to you for clarification or guidance
  • You second guess subordinates’ decisions
  • Other managers at your level are consistently less busy than you

From our conversations with effective delegators, we’ve noticed certain patterns that we’re going to share with you in this article. We hope the following tips will help make you a better delegator at work.

  1. Ensure they have accepted the assignment
    You would be surprised how many managers make the mistake of not confirming acceptance of an assignment, and are surprised when tasks aren’t completed or deadlines not met. Communication is the key to success is any team, and it is critical that you confirm your subordinate understands and accepts the assignment.
  2. Define the desired result
    What is the result you seek? This should be clear to both the delegator and delegatee. If the deliverable is clear, and the scope defined, you minimize the number of revisions and clarification emails you receive down the road.
  3. Delegate the problem, not the task
    One of the biggest obstacles to effective delegation is not trusting subordinates to solve a problem, and consequently delegating specific tasks instead of the problem. Not only this reduce employee satisfaction, it creates more work for you. Instead, focus on defining the problem that needs to be solved, and leave the rest to your employee.
  4. Define the desired delivery date
    Needless to say, set clear delivery date expectations! While you might assume tasks can be completed within a certain time, people might have something else on their plate. Don’t let guesswork run your team – communicate, don’t assume.
  5. Track your delegated tasks using a task manager
    If you’re a frequent delegator, you’ll probably find it helpful to track your delegated tasks and when each is due. Avoid trying to remember them all in your head – it will only occupy your mindspace and make you less productive. You can use a journal, place emails in a “delegated” folder, or use GipsyBot, which specializes in managing delegated tasks.