5 Steps of Effective Delegation

No matter how much you may "know" you should delegate, you may find yourself squaring off with a high degree of resistance. It may be your biggest challenge of all; trusting someone else to get the job done as well as you think you do, and taking the time to train them to do so.

You may have voiced the battle cry of many an overworked business owner, "It's easier to do it myself" and "It's hard to find good help." I assert that behind these reasons are just a few more fears coupled with your unwillingness to take the time to make sure people have what they need to do the quality work you desire.

Here's the good news. If you are willing to take some time to effectively delegate, you can win this game.

Planning, Step 1: write out a job description. You can do this for someone you are going to hire, or someone you plan to contract. Either way, start with the end in mind.

What are the results you require?

What are your standards?

What are the important skills and qualities of the person or company you hire?

Planning, Step 2: Whenever I speak with someone who hasn't been effective in their delegation in the past, I mention P.E.D.A.F. PEDAF is well known in the training world, and I had the good fortune to be exposed to this acronym about 15 years ago. To this day, I still find this the most valuable tool in delegation. One of my favorite things about PEDAF is that it's a process designed to reinforce learning by tapping into 3 of our 5 senses: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.


Explain - Auditory

Demonstrate - Visual

Apply - Kinesthetic


The reason most people don't get the results they want through delegation is that they usually only do one of these 5 important steps, "Explain." If this is you, don't feel badly. Many haven't been trained to effectively delegate, and that's really all that's been ailing you.

Prepare: a lot of the preparation has already been done if you take the time to do what I outlined in Step 1 above. Additionally, planning can include planning the steps you need to take to effectively outline the steps to training. This is also a good time to plan for the tools you need to have on-hand to effectively delegate. (The number of steps will depend on how much you delegate, and when.)

Explain: If you've taken the time to prepare, explaining will be fairly easy. Explain includes: describe the job, describe the results you desire, describe the philosophy that is behind the task, describe the relationship of the task or project to other tasks or projects and/or people, etc. In other words, to the extent needed, equip the person you are training with all the information they need to succeed.

Demonstrate: Do the steps yourself. Show them what you just explained. Show them how to use the equipment, what a filled out form looks like etc.

Apply: This word is the most awkward, and most difficult to remember, but the step is simple. Once you have demonstrated what you are looking for, give the person you are training a chance to apply what they have learned in front of you and immediately after you demonstrate. Can you see the beauty of this step? It has a dual impact. It gives you an immediate understanding of how much of what you conveyed has been absorbed, and as a result, shows you what you need to repeat or correct. Done in the right spirit, you and the person you are delegating to are both empowered.

Follow-Up: I just have to say, hello! This step is most often left out until that moment when the catastrophe has occurred. And by then it's too late. If you have done a good job with steps 1-4, then you are ready to entrust the person to do the job and to engage with the work on their own. Do you remember your fear of letting go, of trusting someone else to be as good as you are? Follow-up is your final key. When you are satisfied they are ready to fly, arrange for a follow-up meeting. Arrange for a specific time to review their work.

When you set up a time for follow-up you build in certainty for yourself and for them. A good guideline for following up with an employee is the end of the first day for the particular tasks you've delegated. It may be a longer time frame for an independent contractor. Use your best judgment and for heaven's sake, follow up!

Notes: Employees vs. Independent Contractors

You can use PEDAF for both independent contractors and employees. However, there will be some variation in the degree of detail you go into in each step in the process. If you hire an employee, you are entitled to include a description of how you want the job done. If you hire an independent contractor, your delegation will focus on the results, entrusting them to determine the process that will meet your needs. (Refer to last week's article for the legal differences between contractors and employees for more detail.) This difference will impact 2 steps the most: Demonstrate and Apply.

On the other hand, if you hire an employee whose strengths shine in areas yours do not, you might want to give them more leeway with the process, too, once you have confidence in their understanding of the results you desire. There are some great possible benefits of this.

1. They could come up with a better process than you would

2. There is a greater chance of ownership that will result in greater loyalty and job satisfaction

3. You have a greater ability to let go of the tasks you assign so you can focus more on the ones that leverage your true talents and strengths. And, isn't this the reason you're going through this whole process?

Learn effective delegation techniques so that you not only hire good people, you help them help you.


Joan Friedlander is an independent entrepreneur and published author. She offers guidance to other independent business owners who don't fit the go-getter mold that many associate with success, yet have something of true value to offer their clients. She empowers her clients to discover how best to harmonize seemingly difficult personal circumstances with their business endeavors. Introverts need not pretend to be extraverts, people dealing with health issues need not pretend to try to keep pace...

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