Managers: Stop Delegating Work

Delegation is often seen as a manager's key responsibility, but it really isn't.


What's the best way to delegate work?

Delegating is often seen as a manager's key responsibility, but it really isn't.

Instead, managers should focus on creating alignment and ownership by assigning work. It's a valuable distinction because delegation is generally a short-term fix.

Keep scrolling for tips on assigning work so you can get out of the new-manager rut. 

Complex Problem: How to Effectively Assign Work

Unsolvable, complex problems plague managers. In coaching, I guide managers to identify the problem, figure out what to try next, and observe behaviors and outcomes. The intent is to deepen understanding and make meaningful progress.

Problem: Effectively assigning work

When you fail to assign work the right way, it finds its way back to you. If you're like most engineers-turned-manager, your first reaction is to step in and fix it because you know how.

That's a mistake.

Being a rescuer is like being stuck in the mud. You'll find yourself spinning your wheels and never get any traction.

Try this: Use a formula

You may think that to delegate is not a core responsibility of a manager. Delegation is a short-term fix. Instead, you need to become a master at establishing objectives and organizing work.

Use this formula: "You need to accomplish {objective} by {date} because it supports {department goal}. Here is what I'm looking for to gauge success: {key result 1}, {key result 2}, and {key result 3}."

Make sure everyone on your team has less than four of these statements.

Bonus: apply this same formula for yourself, and ask for your manager's feedback.

Expected outcome: Increased engagement and alignment.
Your direct reports want to know what you expect of them. This shows them what they are accountable for, how it supports the broader mission, and what success looks like along the way.
This approach will help you work on the right things, bring clarity, and boost employee engagement and alignment. 

What I'm working on

ICF certification. The International Coaching Federation is the premier credentialing body for professional leadership coaches. I've enrolled in a program focusing on better corporate leadership coaching.

New programming. While 1:1 coaching is the most effective method for leadership development, it's not always the most accessible. Due to popular demand, I am building content for engineers and project managers who want to be prepared for a career in management.  

What I'm reading

Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Read about the origins and some best examples of Objectives and Key Results.

John Doerr took IBM's approach to corporate goal setting, clarified the OKR framework, and coached some of the greatest corporations as they aligned their entire organization around a singular focus.

While the book is heavy on storytelling, its appendix is rich with practical resources to up your OKR game now.  

Disclaimer: The links in this post may contain affiliate links.

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