Contact Us

About Bill Collier

Helpful Business Links

E-Learning Center



Delegate Your Way to Success - Part 3 of 3

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate, and don't interfere as long as the policy you've decided upon is being carried out.”
– Ronald Reagan

“Leadership is the ability to decide what is to be done and then get others to do it.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

In parts 1 and 2 of this 3 part series on delegation, I hope I convinced you that delegating to others is a good idea.

Now – finally - let’s turn our attention to the nuts and bolts of effective delegation.

How to Delegate

Suppose you are overseeing a group of people about to assemble a jigsaw puzzle. You have several ways to approach this task. You could ...

  1. hide the picture of the finished puzzle, then stand over their shoulders and direct them on the assembly piece by piece.
  2. show them the picture of the finished puzzle and still direct them on the assembly piece by piece.
  3. show them the picture of the finished puzzle and check on progress periodically
  4. show them the picture of the finished puzzle and make yourself available for assistance if needed.
  5. show them the picture of the finished puzzle and ask them to contact you only after the work is done.
  • Option 1 goes well beyond micro-managing and all the way to being a complete waste of your time. I can’t think of a good reason to give a job to employees without letting them know what outcome is expected.
  • Option 2 can be either micro-managing (bad) or training (good.)
  • Options 3 through 5 are forms of delegation. Various facts will help determine how much follow-up and supervision is needed, such as the skill level of the people involved and how critical the job may be.

Here’s a guideline for your consideration, assuming that the people doing the task are up to the job:

Let people know what outcome is expected and then get the heck out of their way. Make yourself available but make yourself scarce. Delegate results – not methods.

When you delegate to others, you’re delegating authority but not the ultimate responsibility for the outcome. That stays with the leader. Sure, you give folks responsibility for a job and even for an entire department, and you hold them accountable. But you still must stay in contact and make sure they are on track. Your employees may shirk their responsibility, but if you’re following up you’ll know about it before things get too far off course. So, whenever you delegate to someone, keep a record of it and set up a reasonable reporting/follow-up schedule, something like this:

  • Task delegated:
  • Person to whom this task was delegated:
  • Expected outcome:
  • Timeframe for completion:
  • Progress reports/follow-ups on these dates:

Both you and the person to whom you’ve delegated need to agree to the schedule and to the desired outcome. You might include a list of resources needed, and you also might make note of the expected amount of progress at each of your follow-up dates.

Develop Your People

Go back and look at the items numbered 1 – 5 above. Specifically, 3 through 5 are related to various aspects of the employee’s readiness to accept more responsibility and less direct supervision: job skills, attention span, dependability, and so on.

By taking a big-picture approach to those 3 levels, you can build a system of performance reviews, promotions and rewards based on how much direct supervision each of your people needs. You can certainly afford to pay more to people who require less of your time and attention. People like that free you up for planning, leadership and other critical work to help you build your business.

You always get more of the behavior you reward. So, consider rewarding your folks for moving up the “delegation ladder”, for accepting more responsibility and for freeing up your precious time.

Bottom line: If you don’t delegate – and do it effectively - your business will never realize its potential and you won’t have a life outside your company.

< Part 2


Bill Collier is the author of “How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner … and Still Have a Life” and is the St. Louis area coach for The Great Game of Business. He helps businesses teach their employees to think and act like owners. He can be reached at 314-221-8558 or



© 2005-2016 Collier Business Advisors, LLC       314-221-8558

Business Coaching & Consulting · Speaking & Training

Business Success Roundtable

Business & Financial Literacy Workshops · The Great Game of Business

 AddThis Social Bookmark Button