Top 5 Tips to Make You a Master Delegator

If you want to get into senior management, if you want your voice to be heard, if you want to own your own business, you’re going to have to get really good at delegating.

Most people aren’t very good at it.  If you want to be master delegator, remember these top five tips:

  1. Choose the right person to delegate to
  2. Use the 3-step foolproof delegation method
  3. Delegate, don’t abdicate
  4. Build a feedback loop
  5. Build self-confidence

The Professional Leadership Institute provides training on How to Delegate and offers a free preview.

Tip #1: Choose the right person to delegate to

It’s important to remember that there’s someone in the organization that loves to do what you loathe doing.  This is a liberating thought.  The things that drain you, energize someone else!

Often we feel guilty passing work off to others, because we assume that the work we don’t like doing, they don’t like either.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s your job to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the people on your team and play away from your weaknesses and to their strengths.

Choose a person who likes what you loathe.  For example, if you hate compiling a weekly schedule of work shifts, find a detail-oriented person who would love to do that job and delegate it to them.

A simple way to discover strengths and weaknesses is to complete a DISC personality assessment.  The DISC will tell you and them what they’re naturally going to be good at, and what they’re naturally going to dislike doing.

Complete a free DISC assessment here.  This assessment comes with a free download detailing participant’s strengths and weaknesses:

Tip #2: Use the 3-step foolproof delegation method

This 3-step method is actually foolproof.  It works whether you’re hiring an employee in a quick serve restaurant.  It also works if you’re hiring a new CFO for a large business.  The simple steps are:

  1. Let them watch you while you do the job

Let’s say you’re teaching someone how to make a sandwich.  First you let them watch you make one.  You explain what you’re doing while you make it.  You explain where you keep the bread and why, how you apply the condiments, what contents go on the sandwich, and how to you serve it to a customer.

Give them an opportunity to ask questions while they watch.  Then move on to step #2.

2. Do the job together

Now work on the sandwich together.  Remind them to get the mustard from the fridge.  Give them specific coaching on how to apply it.  But work together and keep your eye on them while you work, coaching and teaching and training.

3. They do the job while you watch

Finally let them do the job on their own, but keep watching.  Ask them to explain to you how and why they’re doing each step.  If they make a mistake, offer coaching.

You may do each of these steps several times depending on the complexity of the task.  Or, you might go through them once and the person is equipped to do the job.

Just remember to follow the three steps whenever you delegate a job.

Tip #3: Delegate, don’t abdicate

Delegation is teaching and coaching a person to do a task so that they can develop their skills and at the same time free you from a job you need to give away.

Abdication is giving someone a job and walking away, assuming they’ll get it done the way you want it done.  It seems obvious that abdication is bound to fail, but that’s how most managers do it.

And they’re surprised when things don’t work out. It really isn’t much a surprise when you think about it.

Your goal is to coach, teach and train.  When you do that, delegation is going to work well.  If you ignore it, delegation isn’t going to work.

Think of a time when delegation was a disaster.  Then ask yourself, ‘which steps did I skip?’

You’ll likely find that you were abdicating, not delegating.

Tip #4: Build a feedback loop

This is where many leaders fall down.  They forget that they need to be available to their team members for coaching and advice after the jobs have been delegated away.

Choose access that works for you.  It may be:

  • Open door, talk any time policy
  • Meet at structured meeting times only
  • Text and email even after hours

You decide.  Just make the feedback loop regular and intentional.

When you’re meeting, ask the person how they’re doing, but also ask how you can be a better leader to them.  Are they receiving all of the resources from you that they need?  Are you clear enough in direction?  They can improve, and you can too, so ask.

Tip #5: Build self confidence

A great leader believes that a team member can accomplish more than even they think they can do.  They believe in the person.

You build self-confidence by encouraging strengths.  Point out areas of natural ability that you see, and the person will want to live up to your high opinion of them.

Once the person is confident in their own abilities, they will be a much stronger performer, and happier team member.

In summary:

If you want to be a master delegator, remember:

  1. Choose the right person to delegate to
  2. Use the 3-step foolproof delegation method
  3. Delegate, don’t abdicate
  4. Build a feedback loop
  5. Build self confidence

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on becoming a master delegator.  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here:

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