How to delegate successfully

How to delegate successfully

Posted on Feb 12, 2014 | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Every manager must delegate, but delegating successfully is an art. Frank Wu, chancellor and dean at the UC Hastings College of Law, offers six helpful tips:

• Delegate work that someone else can truly own. Don’t just foist off your own to-do list.
• Don’t micro-manage a project once you’ve delegated it.
• Give clear and precise instructions.
• Delegation only works when you have people you can count on. Make sure your team is strong.
• Trust your teammates.
• Know when NOT to delegate. Some work — whether because the outcomes are so critical, or the nature of the work so complex — should stay in the manager’s hands.


  1. Michael Watts
    February 12, 2014

    Another great piece of advice from you guys!

    Being someone who struggled to delegate when I was first in a situation to do so, the 6 points above ring true to me, a lot!

    I have been known to not do some of these at times I learnt how to feel confident and less uncomfortable to delegate effectively, and gained the confidence to let go to some pieces of work!

  2. Teamworks
    February 12, 2014

    Thanks again for the great feedback, Michael. In our experience, learning to delegate is a journey not a one-time switch. It’s natural to want more control, especially in high-stakes situations. But the more we delegate successfully, the more comfortable we become doing it again.

  3. Aldric Giacomoni
    February 14, 2014

    I disagree with the examples you give for work which should stay in the manager’s hands. These two examples make it sound like the team, at the bottom line, can’t be trusted with real work (or that the manager wants credit for work instead of giving it to his team).

    Some work should be in the manager’s hands. I consider most of that work to be the work of paving the way for the team and removing blockers so the team can do work uninterrupted. A great manager will get to the blockers ahead of time so the team does not even notice they existed.

    What is the purpose of a manager?

  4. Teamworks
    February 15, 2014

    Aldric: Thanks for your comment. We should probably repeat an important belief from an earlier Teamworks post: “great managers have the amazing ability to be both in the work and above it, alongside the team and ahead of the team.” Our perspective on delegation stems from the assumption that managers are sometimes doers themselves.

    Managers who are fully committed to their teams (which is how we think of Teamworks readers and customers) want their team and all its individual members to win. That means being fully enough inside the work to know when the responsibility for high-stakes work might be better in your own hands. It means understanding the team well enough to avoid putting other people in the impossible position of having to meet expectations that are perhaps not easy to communicate. It doesn’t mean handing the team all the grunt work and saving the glory for yourself.


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