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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Management

The 10 Rules of Successful Delegation

Here at The Muse, we’ve been growing our team (with aims toward total world domination, of course). And as we bring on new employees and I mentor our new managers, one of the biggest questions I’ve been getting is how best to delegate tasks.

How much should be delegated to others? How much training or hands-on attention do people need? How can you ensure a great final product?

To answer these questions (and more!), I’ve compiled what I consider to be the 10 commandments of delegation: The rules that will ensure success every time. Whether you’re an expert exec or a novice manager, keep them in mind the next time you hand off an assignment.

1. Be Patient

The first time you delegate any task, it is almost certainly going to take longer than doing it yourself. That’s normal. Over time, it will get easier.

2. Don’t Over-Delegate

Delegation is not shifting work you should be doing to someone else’s plate—it’s getting those tasks you shouldn’t be doing off of yours. It’s important to know the difference.

3. Pick the Right People

Make sure the person you’re delegating to is qualified to do the task. Better yet, try to delegate tasks that will make use of your team members’ best skills and strengths. Then...

4. Explain Why You’re Delegating

When you select people to delegate to, tell them why you chose them specifically, and how you hope to see this help them grow. Help them see each delegated task as an opportunity to take on more responsibilities or grow new skills.

5. Be Specific

Be specific with your asks, including why a task needs to be done, the deadlines, and the expected results. Vague instructions beget vaguely terrible output.

6. Provide Training

Delegation doesn’t just mean handing off a task—make sure your team members have the resources they need to do the job. A good training rule of thumb is “I do, we do, you do” (i.e., watch me do this, then let’s do it together, now you try).

7. Touch Base

Throughout the course of the project or task, always schedule time to touch base. The more complex the task, the more often you may need to touch base.

8. But Don’t Micromanage

Once you’ve delegated, trained, and set up a schedule for touching base, back away from the project. To succeed (and to help your employee succeed), you have to let go.

9. Offer Feedback

Any time you delegate something, provide feedback on the end result (both positive and constructive). It’s an extra step, but making sure you’re getting exactly what you need—and helping others get better over time—will only help you in the long run.

10. Say Thanks

Hey, your employee is saving you time and providing value. Say thanks!

Are there any rules we’re missing? Tell us what you think on Twitter @TheMuse!