by George Ambler on Sunday, July 20, 2008

Effective leaders delegate tasks to others, this allows them to work of more important concerns and to help develop other people around them. However, the reality is that you can only delegate work, not responsibility, if it’s your accountability it remains your accountability no matter who does the work. This means that when you delegate a task, you need to make sure that you delegate in way that ensures you get the right outcome. David Maister has an great post on his blog on how to effectively delegate a task and provides the following pointers:

The context of the assignment – ‘Please could you tell me what you are going to do with this when I get it done, tell me who is it for, and where does it fit with other things going on?’
Deadline – When would you like it, and when is it really due?
Scope – Would you like me to do the thorough job and take a little longer, or the quick and dirty version?
Format – How would you like to see the output of my work presented? What would make your life easier?
Time budget – Roughly how long would you expect this to take (so I can tell whether I’m on track or not?)
Relative priority – What’s the importance of this task relative to the other things you have asked me to do?
Available resources – Is there anything available to help me get the job done? For example, have we done one of these before?
Success criteria – How will the work be judged? Is it more important to be fast, cheap or perfect?
Monitoring and scheduled check points – Can we, please, schedule now a meeting, say, halfway through so I can show you what I’ve got and ensure that I’m on track for your needs?
Understanding – can I just read back to you what you’ve asked me to do, to confirm that I got it down right?
Concerns – before I get started can I just share with you any concerns about getting this done (e.g., other demands on my time) so that I don’t surprise you later?

This is a great way to delegate and ensure that you achieve the desired outcomes.