A Simple Delegation Formula

3 min min read
Updated on February 22, 2021
by Trevor Throness
A Simple Delegation Formula

If you have someone reporting to you, you have to get good at delegating.  You need a simple delegation formula.

Most of us don’t delegate, we abdicate.  That is, we pick a person, assign them a task and then walk away and hope for the best.  And when it doesn’t work, we say, “Why can’t anyone do anything right around here?”

Abdication is for kings who want to marry their divorced girlfriends, (if you don’t get it, watch season 1 of the Crown) not for managers who want to set their subordinates up to win!  In fact, often we unintentionally set people up to fail;  people we like and want to help.

The formula for delegating well isn’t hard.


Step 1: I do the task and you watch me

Step one is all about awareness of the task. In this step, you’re simply asking the person to watch you do the task. They are free to ask any questions they have about it at that time. Step one can be the time that you determine their suitability for the job too.

 Step 2: We do the task together

In step two, you share the task. Step two is about coaching. You explain to them why you do the task the way you do. Give parts of the job away during this step. Watch how they proceed. Coach and train as necessary.

Step 3: You do the task while I watch

During step 3, watch how they do the job. Ask them to explain each step as they do it. Correct and coach them as necessary. This step provides the employee with the security of knowing that they aren’t being set up to fail. If something goes wrong, or if they’re unsure of how to do a part of the task, you’re there to ask.

 Step 4: Set up a feedback loop and let them go

Now that they’ve watched you do the task, they’ve done the task with you, and you’ve watched them to make sure they know what they’re doing, it’s time to let them do it on their own.

But before you let them go, set up a feedback loop. Decide on how and when they’ll have access to you. Is it:

  • Every day?
  • Once per week?
  • Any time?
  • Scheduled by appointment?
  • By phone or text only?

Agree on your access rhythm. When you meet ask how things are going. Ask if they’re receiving everything they need from you. Coach them. Drop in to check on them periodically. Checking is not micromanagement! It’s security for you and for them.

That’s it!  If you use this simple process every time you give a job away, you’ll increase your chances of winning from 30% to 80%.  Give it a try, it works!

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

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068

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