How To Delegate Work (With 9 Steps To Follow For Success)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As a leader in the workplace, you cannot complete every task that is necessary to the company's success. Instead, you can delegate tasks to other employees and team members so that you can perform tasks that you are good at completing. Understanding how to delegate work can help you create a productive working environment where you capitalise on everyone's strengths.

In this article, we discuss what it means to delegate work and provide steps on how to do it in the workplace.

What Does It Mean To Delegate Work?

Delegating work means shifting the responsibility of completing work from one team member to another. Most often, delegation occurs when a manager reassigns a task to an employee, although some lower-level employees may partake in delegation within reason to retain productivity in the workplace. When a manager transfers the responsibility of certain tasks from themselves to their employees, they can create more time for themselves to complete high-level duties. The delegation of tasks also fosters engagement in employees and helps them feel a greater sense of independence.

Related: 10 Common Management Roles (With Skills And Tips To Improve)

How To Delegate Tasks In The orkplace

Here is a list of steps on how you can delegate tasks in the workplace effectively.

1. Understand which tasks you can delegate

The first step to delegating tasks is to determine which responsibilities are realistic to reassign. The responsibilities that you can reassign may depend on the industry in which you work. For example, an individual who holds a managerial role in the restaurant industry can delegate low-level tasks like cleaning tables and chopping vegetables in the preparation area. These tasks are responsibilities that regular employees can complete with minimal training, so it makes sense for the manager to reassign them as appropriate.

Other tasks are not possible to delegate. For example, you can consider the same role as a restaurant manager. This individual cannot delegate tasks like handling a dispute between employees or completing performance evaluations. The former task requires extensive conflict management skills, while the latter task requires a profound knowledge of each employee's responsibilities and performance over a specific period. Regular employees likely do not have this kind of knowledge, so it makes sense for managers to retain the responsibility of these high-level tasks so that they can maintain productivity for the company.

Related: What Are Principles Of Management? (With 14 Types)

2. Consider your team members' strengths and goals

The next step to delegating tasks is to consider your team members' strengths and goals. If you have an employee who has natural leadership skills and wants to eventually advance to a managerial position, you can assign them tasks accordingly. For example, you may consider assigning them the responsibility of overseeing a minor project that you would have otherwise had to assume.

For other tasks that you have to delegate, you may consider choosing an individual who has a specific skill set. For example, you may select an employee who has advanced technical skills to troubleshoot an issue that you are having with a computer. This delegation can save you the challenge of researching the problem yourself or hiring an external party to repair the issue. Leverage your employees' strengths so that they feel more engaged and motivated to achieve optimal productivity.

Related: Top 10 Employee Strengths Employers Look For In Candidates

3. Determine your desired outcomes

Instead of assigning employees tasks without a purpose, ensure that you determine your desired outcomes. Explain to your employees why they are receiving a new responsibility. Discuss how what they accomplish can help the organisation succeed. You may also establish standards for the task you want them to complete and provide the metrics they can use to measure their progress.

Related: How To Highlight Leadership Skills On A Resume: A Guide

4. Provide the proper resources and define the person's authority level

Once your employees understand the desired outcomes you establish, you can provide the proper resources they need to perform optimal work. These resources may include specific technologies, extra team members or training. You can also define each employee's authority level. You can grant them the access they need to restricted systems, and you can ensure that others within the organisation understand the employee's new authority level. This initiative helps others within the organisation respect the employee and follow their instructions without resistance or refusal.

At this stage, you can also remind yourself that it is okay to not have control over every step of the work that you are reassigning. It is important to let your employee or team member accept the responsibility of the task and allow them to handle it how they see fit. You can prepare them for success by explaining what the desired end results are and why they are important for the success of the organisation. You can also make yourself available to address any disparities between the employee's current skills and the desired outcome.

Related: The Importance Of Delegation Of Authority In Management

5. Create clear communication channels

Once you provide the proper resources and authority levels, you can create clear communication channels for the employees who are receiving the new responsibilities. The employees can use these channels to ask questions or receive clarification on their expected duties. They can also share progress updates within these channels so that you can determine whether they are on track to meet project goals.

Related: What Are Channels Of Communication? (Importance And Types)

6. Plan for challenges

When you delegate tasks, you may consider establishing deadlines that are subject to change. These lenient deadlines can allow employees to navigate any challenges they encounter. Planning for challenges can empower your employees.

You may allow them to experiment with different solutions so that they can find the most practical one and feel empowered in their roles. If you are receptive to other employees introducing new approaches and ideas in the workplace, you may find it easier to reassign work in the future. The ability to delegate without feeling the need to control every aspect of an employee's work can help you contribute to the organisation through the completion of high-level activities that produce greater revenue.

Related: Top 10 Management Challenges And How To Overcome Them

7. Practise patience

When you reassign a task to a new individual, they may not have much experience with assuming the level of leadership or responsibility that you are expecting of them. Be sure to practise patience. Show empathy if the employee takes a longer time to take a task that you can usually complete within a short period. As you delegate more tasks, employees can gain more experience and become more efficient at completing high-quality work.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions And Examples

8. Deliver and request feedback

When an employee completes a task that you assigned to them, be sure to offer feedback. You can provide constructive criticism to highlight any weak points and offer suggestions on how to improve. They can implement the feedback they receive to perform a better job the next time they receive the responsibility of completing a similar task.

In addition to delivering feedback to your employees, you can also request it. Ask your employees how they felt about assuming the new responsibility. You may also ask them if they felt they had the skills and resources to meet your desired outcomes or if they needed more training or assistance throughout the project.

Related: 20 Examples Of Feedback In The Workplace (With Examples)

9. Give praise

While it is important to give feedback to employees, you can also offer words of praise. Explain the responsibilities that they fulfilled and how their contributions helped improve the organisation's operations or image. When you recognise the individuals who have assumed your delegated tasks, they may be more likely to accept future tasks with enthusiasm. This can lead to higher quality work and greater productivity with subsequent projects in the workplace.

Explore more articles