The Delegation Step Most Managers Miss Out

Written by Dave Bailey

Filed under management


In a previous essay on delegation, I suggested two principles that can help you delegate more effectively: (i) delegate problems, not tasks, and (ii) coach, don’t instruct.

What I missed was a third principal: (iii) empower problem-owners in public.

There are three steps to fully empower your team member and complete the delegation circle:

1) Signal the problem owner . . . to the team.

‘As you all know, we have a problem [problem statement]. I’ve asked [name of problem owner] to find a solution to this.’

2) Promote listening . . . to the team.

‘I’d like you all to help [name of problem owner] as needed. And if you have input you believe they’ll need, please, give it directly. 

3) Hold the problem-owner to account . . . to the team.

‘[Name of problem owner], now you’ve heard from the team, what are your next steps? How will you let us all know about your progress?’

This format can take less than a minute to communicate, but it can make a world of difference to the leader who owns the problem. It shows that the problem is important not just to the boss, but to the entire team. It gives the leader authority to make decisions that solve the problem. And it sets up team accountability — they’re no longer just accountable to you, they are accountable to everyone on the team.


Originally published Mar 26, 2021, last updated Jun 1, 2021


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