Delegating Successfully: A Guide for Managers

Reading time 7 minutes
Delegating Successfully: A Guide for Managers

Many people in management positions find it difficult to hand over tasks. However, proper delegation not only relieves the burden on the manager, but also increases efficiency and motivates employees. Therefore, delegating has become an indispensable core competence for people in leadership positions. In this article you will learn what you need to consider when delegating tasks and how you can learn to delegate.

What does delegating mean?

Delegating means handing over tasks and responsibilities to others. In a professional context, this usually means that a leader delegates some of his or her work and responsibility for the project in question to selected employees. A good leader not only passes on the tasks to others, but also enables them to carry them out. successful to edit.

Here, delegating explicitly means that the manager also transfers responsibility for the project to his employee. If the responsibility remains with the manager and the employee is only to complete a specific task, this is referred to as a work order.

In order to be able to delegate tasks successfully, it is important to find the right balance. For example, it is an obstacle if a manager is reluctant to hand over tasks because he or she fears a loss of control. Others prefer to do everything themselves out of concern that the work will not be done well enough otherwise. With increasing workload, however, such people quickly reach their limits, because after all, their own time and performance are not infinite.

On the other hand, delegating too much can also be problematic. This can happen when a manager finds delegating tasks very pleasant. Because passing on work to others can also mean a great relief, for example because one protects oneself from making mistakes. However, a good leader should always know which tasks to keep in his or her own hands.

Why is delegating important?

Proper delegation has many advantages for you, your employees and your company. You yourself benefit because you can concentrate on the really important tasks. You become more concentrated, more focused and ultimately better at these tasks. Additionally, fewer tasks provide stress reduction. And besides, delegating tasks always means that you connect with your co-workers: You exchange ideas, your social skills are strengthened, and you may receive important information yourself that would otherwise have remained hidden from you.

For your employees it means first of all a positive appreciation when you give them a task. This has a motivating effect and strengthens team awareness. At the same time, you support your employees: through new tasks, they can expand their knowledge and develop their skills. independent become. All this increases job satisfaction and also leads to better results for your employees.

Which tasks can I delegate and which not?

To determine which tasks you can delegate to employees, it is helpful to first get an overview: What work do you have to do right now? Then you should consider which of these things are reserved for you as a leader. This includes, for example, control tasks, employee planning or business development. Tasks that involve confidential information should also preferably remain on your personal to-do list.

All other tasks are in principle suitable to be delegated to your employees, as long as the task spectrum is clearly outlined. If the scope of work of a project is not yet clear to you, the responsibility for it remains with you for the time being.

If there are still a lot of tasks left after this first process of elimination, you now have to decide which tasks you want to delegate. For this purpose, a classification according to two categories has proven to be useful: Is the task important or unimportant? And is it urgent or not? If you arrange the pending tasks according to this principle, you will get four groups:

  • urgent tasks with high importance: do them best yourself
  • urgent tasks with low importance: you can delegate these to suitable employees
  • non-urgent tasks with high importance: set a date when you want to do this work (and record it right away)
  • non-urgent tasks with low importance: you can neglect these things for the time being

According to this rough scheme, you can estimate quite well what you can delegate and what not. However, you should be careful not to delegate only unpleasant peripheral tasks to your employees, as this can quickly have a demotivating effect. For urgent, important work, you can always additionally check whether partial aspects can be delegated to others.

5 steps to successful delegation

After you have determined which tasks you want to delegate, an important step has already been taken. To ensure that your delegation is successful and that everyone involved is happy with the result, you should follow these five steps.

1. selection of the right employee

Not every team member is suited to perform every task. The question is who has the necessary qualifications and the time resources to do it. If a person is overqualified, in the long run, the Motivation lost as the completion of the task becomes boring. Underqualification also usually leads to stress and Dissatisfaction. However, if you have a little more time on your hands, it may make sense to choose someone who is not yet experienced to build up for such tasks in the future.

2. the briefing

If the task and the selected employee are clear to you, you must now formulate the task for the person in question - if possible, in such a way that you pass on all the important information. The five W-questions have proven useful as a guide. These provide a rough scheme and ensure that you don't forget anything in your delegation assignment:

What? Define the task as precisely as possible. What exactly is to be done? Is the task unique or repetitive? What is the goal?

How? Be clear about the exact authority you are delegating to your employee. Ask your employee how he or she would like to proceed with the task.

With what? Consider together which tools your employee needs and where he or she can get them. Does he have access to all the necessary documents, does he know the current status of the project?

When. Inform your employee about the time frame and possibly set interim goals. If you want to hold interim meetings, you can schedule them now.

Waiting for queries Give your employee enough time for questions. It may be useful for him to repeat the task in his own words in order to avoid ambiguities.

3. control

Depending on the employee's level of experience, more or less supervision is needed during independent work time. If your employee has already completed the same or similar tasks, less guidance is needed. You should still be available for questions.

For new tasks or inexperienced employees, close supervision and guidance may be needed in the early days. Be careful to find the right balance: Your employee should not feel left alone, but also not supervised.

4. give feedback

Once the task is completed, give feedback to your employee. Show your appreciation and say thank you to keep your Appreciation to show. If there is room for improvement, you can raise this constructively. In this way, your employee can expand his or her competencies and complete future tasks even more successfully.

5. reflect on delegation

Was your delegation successful? If there were misunderstandings, how can you make sure they don't happen in the future? If the task did not suit your Satisfaction was solved, you should consider where the error lay.

5 typical mistakes when delegating - and how to avoid them

typical delegation mistakes

If the delegation of a task did not work out as desired, you can consider whether you might have made a typical mistake when delegating. It is even better to be aware of possible pitfalls in advance - so you can optimize your delegation in advance.

Comprehension problems

If there are already ambiguities during the briefing, a successful completion of the task is usually hardly possible. Not every employee will ask questions of their own accord if something is still not completely clear to them. Therefore, if in doubt, ask again how exactly he understood the task. If the work is very complex, a written overview can be helpful. Also make sure that your employee knows exactly what your expectations are regarding the result.


Once the task and the responsibility for it have been handed over, really hand it over. Refrain from interfering and give your employee freedom in completing the task. Maybe he has a different way than you, but still comes to a good result. If you constantly control or try to influence him, he will get the impression that you do not trust him with the task. This quickly leads to frustration or self-doubt.


Be careful not to overwhelm your employees with the delegated task. If the task is completely new for the person in question, don't leave him or her to deal with it on his or her own. Signal a willingness to talk and be open to questions. Offer guidance and remember that not everyone can express to their supervisor that a task may be too much for them.

Time Management

When planning your time, take into account that your employee may not be able to complete the delegated task as quickly as you or may need additional training time. Be sure to plan for this lead time.

Also, when giving a deadline, it can be helpful to allow for a small buffer. You should not necessarily communicate this in the briefing. This way, you still have some room in case your employee needs longer or can make necessary changes.

Absence of feedback

Not giving feedback after a task has been completed means that your employee cannot classify the work done. Even if you do not have any suggestions for improvement, this is also an important Feedback. Communicating that is at least as important as offering criticism. 

Otherwise, you run the risk that your employee may do something differently next time because they may assume it due to the lack of feedback, not good enough to have been. In addition, positive feedback ensures that you will have no problems motivating someone to do additional work in the future.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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