Five Steps to Effective Delegation


Today we have a guest post from Dr Tade Thompson, who I had the great pleasure of getting to know when I last lived in the UK.

Tade is an Author, Consultant Psychiatrist, and also a dear friend, and he has written an excellent piece on Delegation. Enjoy!

Five Steps to Effective Delegation

By Dr Tade Thompson 

Effective delegation is one of the key skills of a leader in any field. The ability to deploy resources allows you to rise above minor difficulties and focus on your vision for the work stream, regardless of size.

What follows are five steps that I suggest would help:

  1. Be known as a hard worker.

The erroneous lay-impression of delegation is passing the buck, or shirking your work by handing it off to subordinates. In actuality nothing could be farther from the truth, but the idea persists, especially where the task is unpleasant. If your team recognise you to be a hard worker it will go a long way to reversing this impression and forestalling resentment.

  1. Be capable of the task you chose to delegate

In my field we assess and treat patients. I am capable of everything that is required along that pathway from when the person is admitted until discharge and beyond. When I delegate the task to a different team member I know what is required because my knowledge is experiential.

This may not always be possible, but should be your aspiration. If I am responsible for a ward it has to be clean and free of infestation. I know nothing about extermination, but I do know how to access those who do.

  1. Be sure that the person to whom you delegate is capable of the task.

If they can, good. If they cannot, train them or better yet, delegate someone to teach. This is yet another reason that staff training is essential in any workplace. Only when you are sure they can perform the task should you ever delegate. Handing a task to a person you know to be partially or fully incapable is setting them up to fail. This means what you are really doing is looking for someone to blame if the task goes wrong, and that is not leadership. Make sure your team has the tools to perform. You want bricks? Supply straw.

  1. Monitor

Before delegation set up systems for monitoring the task. This way you will know if it is going well, or if you need to allocate to someone else or take over. There may be a failure of step 3 or a new problem. Either way, monitoring will ensure your customers or those downstream from your service line are not affected.

  1. Hold Responsibility

Guess what? Delegation does not absolve you of responsibility for the task. You, General, are responsible for the actions of your unit. This is a good thing. It will spur you to step 3 and 4, you will feel connected to your service, and your staff will feel protected.

These steps should make delegation a positive experience for all team members

© 2013 by Tade Thompson

Tade Thompson is a consultant psychiatrist and writer. He tweets intermittently at

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles