Delegate without Dumping

DumpingDelegating work to others is both a critical leadership practice and a learned skill.  When done well, delegating is not dumping; it is appropriate and productive.

However, when executed poorly, delegating can result in frustration, low quality results, and fractured work relationships.

So, how do we do it well?


When delegating tasks, follow these three steps:


  1. Set clear expectations. Make sure that you clearly communicate the expected deliverables and the dates they are needed.  Any task delegated without a date is a wish, a hope, and a dream.
  2. Track the destination, not the steps. Snoopervising is the practice where a leader repeatedly follows up with an associate on the detailed steps they are taking to accomplish tasks.  Hold people accountable to the deliverables and deadlines (the destination!), be there for them when they have questions, and revel in the fact that they will often do the job better than you ever could.
  3. Provide useful feedback. The purpose of feedback (positive or negative) is to improve performance in the future.  Motivate your staff by telling them what they did right (or not-so-right), and how the result was affected by their actions.  Delegation accompanied by feedback is an excellent development opportunity.


When receiving delegated tasks, you have the following responsibilities:


  • Ask questions. Make sure you understand the expected deliverables, the timelines, the stakeholders, and the budget for the delegated task.  Make no assumptions, particularly for new projects.  Get the facts.
  • Take meticulous notes. Note-taking will solidify your understanding of the delegated task and verify the expectations of the deliverables and timelines.  Verify your notes with the person delegating the task to you.
  • Provide updates appropriately. Be proactive in updating your leader on the status of the task or project, but do not over-communicate details.  Generally, you want to let them know whether you are:  (1) on target, (2) need some assistance, or (3) completely flummoxed.


Delegation is a doorway to innovation and opportunity at work.  Take a moment today to look at your calendar and your to-do list.  Should you be delegating more work to your team?  Call me and let’s discuss your situation.  The initial assessment is at no cost to you.  My number is 912-417-2505.


This article originally appeared on workWELL, presented by Unum.

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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


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