Seven Steps to Successful Delegation

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One of the most important things we can do to scale up a business is to develop a team. Successful delegation is a crucial part of team management and a powerful way to boost your productivity. While most people think they know how to delegate I have found them to be ineffective because they miss crucial steps. With these seven steps you can become an expert delegator:


Step #1: Decide on what to delegate

Before delegating anything, first ask yourself whether the task needs to be eliminated or automated? If the task is necessary and cannot be automated then I put it through the following matrix to see what to delegate:

As a general rule I want to keep all items in zone 1 – The Flow Zone with me. These are tasks that I’m highly passionate about and I’m very proficient at too. These are items that energize me and add the most value to my business.

I want to delegate all other tasks in zone 2, 3 & 4, starting with those tasks in my disconnection zone first. These are tasks that I have a low passion and proficiency for.

Step #2: Select the appropriate person to delegate to.

It was a revelation for me to find that there were things that were in my “disconnection zone” that were in the “flow zone” for other members of my team. This is why it’s important to build a complimentary team.

I have a team member who loves to follow up and close people on the phone. I, on the other hand, find it tedious. So it’s one of the tasks I specifically delegate to her. It keeps both of us happy!

Step #3: Communicate the workflow

In an earlier blog I covered 5 simple steps to systemize your workflows or process. This makes a task easy to delegate. The simple recipe is there.

Review it with the person you are delegating to if it’s the first time they will be doing it. Create a wiki for key processes. It makes things easy to find and it makes delegation easier. I typically use Evernote to capture all my processes.

Step #4: Provide the necessary resources

Provide the team member with the necessary resources. In the process note I also include what resources are required to complete the task.

Sometimes it’s physical resources and other times it would include access to digital resources for example a login and password to access a certain app or software.

Step #5: Specify the delegation level

This is a crucial step and often missed step leading to the failure of many delegation efforts. You have to be clear about the authority level you are delegating. Typically I see there being 4 types of authority:

  • Do exactly as I say and do not deviate from my instruction.
  • Do some research on a specific topic and come back to me with specific options.
  • Do some research and come back with some recommendations for my approval.
  • You make the choice and let me know what you have decided.

Each level is going higher and that signifies that you are developing a great second line. Typically the first level of authority is for entry-level team members.

Step#6: Give them room to operate

If you do the previous step properly then you don’t need to micro manage. You can give your team member the space to operate. This is one of the ways in which you can show that you trust your team member.

Step#7: Check in and provide feedback

You can’t delegate a task and just forget about it! Have a periodic system of check-in for work that you have delegated. Let your team member know when and where this check-in needs to be updated. It could be an additional part of an existing report.

Leave a comment below on what are some of the delegation challenges you have been facing.

15 Responses

  1. Dear Neeraj, its a useful article.thank you. However in certain professions like mine as a CA and as a Teacher, the clients / students expect more personal interaction. They don’t want to speak to others or junior level staff. How to overcome this?

    1. Dear Srinivasan – I think it’s a matter of also training your clients and empowering staff. If at the outset new clients are taught that one of your staff is the key person to contact it becomes easier to delegate. Helping your team shine in front of existing clients is also another way of building trust and confidence of your clients on your team.

  2. I am highly impressed by Niraj.
    He is so focus and clear headed.
    Wonderful ideas on delegation. Simple and doable.
    I have applied his seven steps to organised working which I learnt in the BNI Summit in 2015.
    They worked wonders, not only for me but for many people I shared with. I have also put them on my blog for more people to benefit from.
    I wish Niraj all the best in his new endeavours. He will rock as much outside of BNI as he did in it.

  3. Dear Neeraj, very nice article. It gives a deep insight into the process of delegation. I realised, how important it is to go through all the steps you have mentioned and the reasons why it fails sometimes. Delegation is such an important tool to achieve super-productivity!

  4. Please Give me Idea How to Develop Sales in Proper Price & Get Orders from Clients ??
    How to do Cost Cutting & Product is More Cheaper than Competitor ??

    1. Hi Jigar – Please have a look at my blog on how to sell more to existing clients. Developing a product funnel can help maximize sales to existing clients which are much easier to sell to than new prospects. I think you will find that useful. The other thing is that in your marketing you need to define the ideal type of customer that you want. You need to get good at articulating the value that you deliver so that clients are more likely to buy from you. Most people are not good at articulating that and therefore succumb to just trying to sell on price. I don’t know your product or market and therefore cannot comment further.

    1. Hi Srini, it depends on the timeline of the task delegated. It depends on the turnaround time expected. An urgent and important task may require a much shorter feedback interval.

  5. mr.Neeraj,

    wonderful article, very much relevant for me NOW.

    i own and manage our family hotel.

    1) i need to open a chain of coffeehouses, i have the prototype outlet ready running successfully, but before scaling up i need to delineate the process, document them with S.O.P, identify, fine tune
    and capitalize my KPI, KRA.,
    protect my value drivers(baristas)

    2) strategising ,planning for risk mitigation at various scale,
    identifying /creating entry barriers for copycat competitors,price disruptors etc

    could you recommend a relevant professional to coach me on this ?

  6. sir, excellent article,thanks
    flow matrix is very good.

    how to learn using evenote ?i am not so tech savvy.
    it is a complementary team or complimentary team?

    what is meant by “Create a wiki for key processes. “?

    1. Evernote is a free software – It’s like having an electronic diary where you can write down anything.
      The correct term is Complementary.
      Create a ‘wiki’ – its like an internal website which has key systems and processes so people can find things quickly by searching for relevant terms.

  7. Hello,
    In delegation task i face following difficulties
    1. The people i hire don’t have technical know how
    2. Those who have technical background are not capable to lead or to get the work done from subordinates

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