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Delegation works

By Douglas Driscoll
25 July 2016 | 1 minute read
Douglas Driscoll

Let’s face it – there’s only a limited amount that you can achieve on your own, however hard you work.

One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is learning how to delegate your work to other people. Remember, no one ever said you have to do everything – you just have to ensure that everything is done!

The ability to delegate is a fundamental skill required by leaders, yet it is one that is rarely mastered. Delegation is not about giving someone a task without guidance and leaving them to it – that’s abdication. Nor is it about giving someone a task that’s appropriate to their post or position – that’s task allocation.


Delegation is about achieving results to a specified level of performance by empowering and motivating others to carry out tasks for which you are ultimately accountable. It is about allocating responsibility with the corresponding level of authority.

Having once been a control-freak myself, I had a habit of biting off more than I could chew, and viewed delegation as a sign of weakness. Over time I came to realise that it’s actually quite the opposite. Trust me when I say this – delegation works.

Here are my top 10 tips for delegation:

1. Have a goal in mind

In order to delegate effectively, you need to know what you are setting out to achieve. You need to start at the end and work backwards.

2. Decide what to delegate

Try to delegate recurring tasks, so that the initial time spent in the delegation process pays dividends in the long term. For instance, tasks that require long and uninterrupted application make your schedule inflexible, so these should be delegated wherever possible.

3. Avoid delegating odds and ends

Try not to delegate tasks that are a mixture of odds and ends. People find work far more interesting and engaging if they can see it from start to finish.

4. Be specific

The delegation discussion is arguably the most important part of the whole process. You’ve taken the time to choose the tasks, selected the person/people, but then your communication goes wrong. If you get this stage wrong, you may face serious consequences down the line. The discussion must be a sincere one. Make your wishes clear, and be sure to end with agreement.

5. Provide training

Delegation doesn’t just mean palming off a task – it’s a chance for others to shine. Discuss and agree on any training or resources necessary to complete the task more effectively.

6. Don’t impose

Discuss how the task could be performed. Do not impose your method unless there is no other way of completing the task. After all, one of the principles behind delegation is that it’s a learning curve for the person given the task.

7. Don’t micromanage

Once you’ve delegated and provided the appropriate level of training and guidance, back away. By all means touch base and provide feedback, but don’t micromanage, as this will be perceived as a lack of faith.

8. Uphold standards

Only accept good-quality, completed work. If you accept work you are not completely satisfied with, others will never learn to do the job properly. You will need to make the necessary changes/amendments yourself, which defeats the purpose of the whole exercise and may also have a detrimental impact on the confidence of your staff. Conversely, when good work is returned to you, make sure you recognise staff and praise their efforts.

9. Exercise patience

Exercising patience and tolerance is paramount to effective delegation. It is very easy to get frustrated, as others will initially take longer than you to complete tasks. But if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that they will quickly become competent and reliable.

10. Say thank you

We all love a pat on the back, so be sure to show gratitude for a job well done.

Delegation works
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Douglas Driscoll

Douglas Driscoll

Douglas Driscoll is CEO of Starr Partners, and was named Industry Thought Leader of the Year at the Real Estate Business Awards 2016. Originally from the UK, Douglas is widely regarded as one of the industry’s preeminent thought leaders, and is lauded for his dynamic and pioneering approach.

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