The 4 Phases of Effective Delegation

Have you ever tried delegating something in your business only to have it not go as planned?

You felt you were so clear. So why did you not get the results that you were expecting? Where was the breakdown?

The answer is probably that you missed one of the critical steps to delegation.

Here are four necessary phases of delegation, to ensure a smooth handoff.

Phase 1: Shadowing with Documentation

The first step is to have the employee shadow his/her trainer, along with a documented process for their future reference.

If you don’t already have a simple checklist or how-to guide established, have the trainee create the process by documenting the steps as they shadow. It’ll deepen their understanding and help develop company systems at the same time. Win-win!


Phase 2: Swap Roles

This is the step most leaders miss.

After the employee shadows you couple of times and you’ve answered any questions they may have, now it’s your turn to shadow them.

While a person can logically understand something by observation, most don’t truly learn without doing. This is your chance to see how well they truly understand, while being available to answer any questions or give feedback.

You might initially feel as if you don’t have time for this, or that it’s unnecessary, but you’ll be surprised by the gaps in learning that this helps to expose… which can save loads of time and frustration down the line.


Phase 3: Training Wheels

Now the employee is ready to tackle the new task on their own, only needing to check in as questions arise.

The critical training skill here is that if/when a question does arise, you ask the employee to propose 1-2 recommendations and run it by you before making the final decision. This will give you the opportunity to either A) continue to build confidence that they are capable of making the right decisions, or B) provide additional coaching or training if they miss the mark.


Phase 4: Off and Running

And then the highest level of delegation, when the team member can actually make the decisions and take the action.

With this level of responsibility, they are also accountable for the results. So while your role as a trainer is complete, your role as a manager still exists. Make sure there is a mechanism for a feedback loop (i.e., regular meetings or reporting) to ensure a productive level of ongoing communication.


Summary: Slow Down to Speed Up

If you’ve delegated with less success than you like, go back and think about which of those four phases was missed or rushed.

Was there not enough training time or documentation to support the training?  Did you not take the time to shadow them and make sure that they understood?  Maybe it went a little too fast and they were left on their own too soon, or maybe there’s been a lack of accountability on an ongoing basis.

[bctt tweet=”Investing more time in the training process will result in more capable, self-sufficient employees, and empower your team to have a greater level of ownership in their roles.”]

And when an ownership mentality exists throughout your company, that’s when growth goes from adding to multiplying.