Check out our Podcast!

Total: $0

Sort Articles:

X Clear Search Results


Written by: Ralph Twombly
Published: Mon Feb 22 2021 10:13:04 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

“…as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that

he should share the passion and action of his time…”

Oliver Wendall Homes, Jr.


The final test of leadership is to leave behind men and women with the conviction, commitment and competency to carry on in your absence. This can be accomplished through the process of placing your trust in others, or delegation. Delegation is the on-going process by which a leader assigns additional tasks (i.e., responsibilities and authority) to a subordinate in such a way that there is acceptance of responsibility for the assigned tasks.

Benefits to the leader:

  • Eased work pressures not dominated by minor details
  • Increased time for primary (broader) responsibilities
  • Increased time for self-development

Benefits to the staff:

  • Challenge and interest
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased opportunities to learn and grow

The twin goals of delegation are:

(1) the development of staff member

(2) the increased effectiveness of the leader or person delegating

Why Delegations Fail

Delegation will almost always fail if the supervisor is a perfectionist and believes there is only one way to do a job (which happens to be their way). To begin with, perfectionists have a difficult time turning responsibility for a result over to someone else. In addition, they are usually dissatisfied with the outcome unless they do it themselves or have micro-managed the task every step of the way. Of course, that is not what delegation is all about. Most jobs don’t need to meet some ideal of perfection. They need to meet required standards, and if those are met, the delegation was successful.

  • Delegation is also likely to fail when supervisors do not encourage employees to complete assigned tasks as they see fit. Delegation involves allowing employees the leeway to determine how the job should be done, giving them the authority to carry out the task with minimal supervision, and trusting them to do so.
  • Fear of failure is another reason delegation fails. Many supervisors fear that employees will make mistakes or be unable to meet standards for a task, and, therefore, they are reluctant to delegate work. Failure is a possibility, of course. But failure is not likely if the employee is properly trained, is given sufficient resources, and is adequately monitored and supported.
  •   Delegation also generally fails when a supervisor simply can’t, or won’t, let go of control over the task. Some supervisors like doing a particular task so they don’t want to delegate. Others feel they have to keep their skills sharp, so they do certain things themselves that could easily be done by one of their employees. Still other supervisors feel that they shouldn’t ask employees to do a job that they don’t want to do themselves. Or, they might have the misguided notion that they have to set an example for employees by doing the work rather than what they really should be doing, which is supervising it.

Delegations That Work

Five steps to making delegation work every time.

1. Decide what to delegate – we can never delegate complete accountability for the outcome.

    1. What is the scope (aim or purpose?)
    2. Who is responsible?
    3. What is the timeline?

2. Decide who to delegate to – sometimes we bury our best people in work and the people who need to learn what is being delegated are sliding by. Balance your delegations and make sure that everyone has a chance to succeed. Many time poor performers are left out because of the fear of failure in delegation. If you follow this process you can help poor performers improve their performance. This is one of the hidden values of a good delegation system.

    1. Who can do it?
    2. Who will benefit most?
    3. Who needs the challenge?

3. Build a plan togetherthis part is essential and the key to success. Build the plan with them and they will own it. Let them design, create and stretch on outcomes.

            a. Discuss scope

b. Build a timeline

c. How to approach the task

    1. Discuss communications on task
    2. Define outcomes
    3. Discuss contingencies

   4. Monitor results - Follow-up at predetermined date and time (when will you follow-up).

    1. What should they do if they fall off the agreed schedule?
    2. Build in ways to measure success or failure.

5. Reward

    1. Identify ways to build in recognition. How will you recognize the    employee if they are successful?
    2. Learn what reward means to this individual.
    3. Formalize success – will you publish the results, use word of mouth, formalize by letter or make a part of the employees file?  What other methods might you have available?

14 - Delegation Terms





Managers delegate some of their functions and authority to their staff.


Scope of delegation is limited as leader delegates the powers to the staff on individual basis.


Responsibility remains with the managers but can be discussed and can vary on each assignment.

Freedom of Work

Freedom to innovate, create, share and involve is given to the staff via communications from their leader/manager.

Need on Purpose

Delegation is important in all concerns, whether big or small. No enterprise can work without delegation.

Grant of Authority

The authority is granted by one individual to another.


Delegation is a process which explains leader/staff relationships.


Delegation is essential to all leaders and all organizations and is the catalyst by which staff can learn and prepare for their futures.


Delegated authority can be taken back.



Ralph Twombly

Ralph Twombly

In the 20 years since starting Priority Learning, Ralph has facilitated countless learning experiences and has conducted training for thousands of managers and leaders. With over 30 years of leadership development and organizational development background and work, Ralph continues to build relationships with client companies all over the U.S.