PM Quick Tip #1: When Should You Delegate?

When Should You Delegate?


During today’s PM Quick Tip, I will discuss the important and often overlooked topic of delegation.  Key takeaways from this article include understanding how, when, and why to delegate tasks to subordinates within your project team.

Delegate, Don’t Micro-Manage

Two root causes of Micro-Management are a lack of trust and an undefined scope.

Micro-Managers engage in the minute details of “the How,” and they’re very concerned with the steps taken to achieve the end goal.  As a consequence, they often lose sight of their own jobs and responsibilities, while also stifling the creativity and inspiration of their team members. On the contrary, I try to clearly explain “the What” or the end goal, and then take time to ask for feedback and answer questions.

Delegate to Establish Trust

The first step to effective delegating is to select project resources who are capable and willing to get the job done.

Next, clarify some measurable expectations for the task at hand, such as reporting requirements or frequency of communication. This clearly defined scope will enable the future leader to whom you’re delegating to identify the path that they will take to achieve their objectives.

Project team members who are empowered to be responsible for segments of the project will operate in an environment of trust, and grow within this space.  Particularly during the initial stages, I regularly check in with the team member in order to stay abreast of progress and risks, while allowing him or her some freedom to lead the task autonomously.

Delegate to Avoid Bottlenecks

The “I want to control it all” managers, we all know one, double as project bottlenecks when they hinder progress because they’ve missed an important email or did not attend a meeting because they “didn’t have the bandwidth.”

When I delegate decision-making responsibility to a capable project team member, not only does this free up a potential bottleneck, but it also empowers the team member to exercise and build his or her leadership skills.  Of course I’ll request and review meeting minutes, and touch base with the team member to debrief, but this allows for work objectives to proceed in parallel, which in turn benefits the entire project team.


What other benefits have you found after successfully delegating to others? Please leave your thoughts and comments below!

  1. Great information. Many people do not understand the difference. I had a micromanager that wanted to control everything and everyone. Delegating would have made all the difference in the world. I myself prefer to delegate tasks and get a report on the progress at the end of the week.

    • Hi Candice!

      Thank you for your comment. It’s funny, managers want to hold on so tightly because they want to control the project’s success, not realizing that by letting go, they enable the project to become more successful in the end. I guess it’s counter-intuitive, and I’m glad that you feel comfortable with delegating as well.

      All the best!

  2. Great article. I just got my Associate’s degree in business Administration in July and I had several management classes. Delegation is very important to keep things flowing as you said. If a manager is trying to control every aspect of business, they will find themselves overextended and will miss important information. Had they given some decision making power to capable employees, they would have more time to address other issues.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your comment! Congratulations on your recent degree – you should be proud of this awesome accomplishment. I agree completely with your comments. Managing is a smooth mix of real time and hands on experience; I encourage you to consider some of the lessons that I’ve included throughout this site, so that you can learn from some of the mistakes I’ve made and success I’ve experienced along to the way to becoming a better manager and leader.

  3. I have worked closely with managers and seen the effects that a lack of delegation can have on team morale, transparency within the organization and in teams completing tasks. This was a great article to read and one I would love to share with some of the newer managers in my organization.

    • Hi Kamille!

      Thank you for your comment. It’s interesting how transparent not delegating is to the people observing the manager in question. Perhaps you can have a one on one conversation or set up an informal mentorship with a new manager to help him or her along her journey.

      Please do share the article with others in your organization and stay tuned for more tips!

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