“Creative Delegation Techniques _EiB_104.4”

Topic 3 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series

written by Wayne Brown

Hello again to our series called Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics – and you’ve already reached topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques.

We now have 2 big topics behind us Understanding your place in the team and Motivating your future team“. But I’m very happy to say that we are still just getting started and today’s discussion is equally important and challenging…

In this 3 pack – video, podcast and associated blog, we’re going to break down our delegation process under 3 broad questions of – WHY delegate, WHAT to delegate and HOW to delegate.


With the first question “WHY delegate” – we’ll identify that there can be multiple reasons & explore 3 which are key;

  • 1st is to enable us to address stakeholders expectations. As discussed in Topic 1 we have numerous Stakeholders with far too many expectations, which we almost certainly, don’t have the capacity or perhaps even the necessary skills to cope with.
  • 2nd, we have potentially 4 generations and considerable diversity in our workforce today whom we need to motivate and cultivate.

We spoke about the need and ways of motivating from a neuro-science perspective in Topic 2. But also, we have the realization that many of our team are experts in their field and very capable of working under pressure and coming up with practical new ideas which lead to positive outcomes.

  • 3rd and final, we simply need time to give adequate attention to doing our job as a leader. To work on those critical tasks such as strategic planning, growth, managing the business, reporting and team/s to name just a few areas.

If you recall the conversation about work-life balance from Topic 1, you will remember that we need to find a long-term solution to managing our workload, rather than trying to cope with everything as this isn’t sustainable.

When adopting the wrong approach, we eventually end up giving inadequate focus, time and effort on all 3 mentioned areas and thereby fail more often than not to reach a successful result.

So, this covers our question on “WHY delegate”. Next, we turn our attention to the question of WHAT to delegate.


This second question starts with the realization that we can’t and shouldn’t delegate everything just for the sake of it.

Hence, before delegating we need to make a conscious decision about:

  • the skill and willingness of the employee to take on the task,
  • the complexity and urgency of the task,
  • the amount of support we will need or be willing to provide,
  • there’s even the need to avoid delegating some tasks,

So, the leader really must be aware of and consider these questions fully from the outset.

And to assist us with this we introduce two models which come with simple tools as support.

The first is from the 34th American president. A gift to business called the Eisenhower matrix and the second is the Skill / Will matrix from Max Landsberg in his book the Tao of Coaching.

Before moving onto these areas or tools, we need to first explore a little on the reasons behind some managers reluctance to delegate.

A number of these reasons may sound trivial or perhaps a few will even sound familiar, but most are common among managers.

Here’s 10 limiting statements which we have heard and even seen being played out by various managers – you notice we don’t use the term Leader in this discussion.

Aside from the fact that we should already be clear on the point that you don’t have sufficient time to do everything – and even in the situation where you work long hours, we know that it’s not sustainable.

And in all instances, there are actions you can take to alleviate your concerns.

As usual you will find additional material through-out this blog which will help deepen your learnings where needed.

However, if you still need more convincing then please refer back to the beginning of this Topic and review 3 key reasons WHY we delegate? And then read this Harvard Business Review article.

With that clarity, let’s examine the Eisenhower matrix – to aid us in grouping our tasks prior to selecting which ones to delegate.

Eisenhower Matrix …

Typically, we agree that Quadrant 1 tasks are for the leader or manager to handle due to the urgency and importance.

These pressing tasks often preclude you from having an employee do it UNLESS the employee is already an expert in this area.

Having said that however, it may be a good idea with non-confidential or sensitive tasks, to have a team member work on the task with you as a means of developing their skills for the longer term.

  • From the Eisenhower matrix and your groupings, the best area to select tasks for delegation come out of Quadrant 3. In addition, it will also be useful to select from Quadrant 2 for specific items.

If you’re not sure how to use this tool check out the link provided here to a great site, which steps you through the process.

And we’ll outline under the final category in this topic “How to delegate” – what to do with this list and how to distribute the chosen tasks among your team.

Please be aware that there are sometimes where we agree that it’s not appropriate to delegate. The following tasks are examples where we would normally not delegate and are typically leadership and management tasks:

  • Employee evaluation meetings 
  • Strategic planning
  • Team development
  • Final decisions
  • Personnel selection
  • Tasks that have been delegated to you explicitly

Not surprisingly you will find most of these tasks in Quadrant 1 or perhaps Quadrant 2. And of course, as mentioned before, it does not mean that you can’t include some of your employees here to assist you and learn from you in the process for future support.

One further critical question a manager needs to consider is the level of support, focus or control which the task and team member would require. One model which is often used in this process is called the Situational Leadership model. We copy a link here but won’t go into that model today.

For the task we should consider the;

  • complexity, urgency and consequences if it is delayed or not completed correctly.
  • and for the employee, we need to consider their qualification for the task and motivation to accept the task.

We’ll now introduce our second model to help us address some of these concerns.

Skill – Will Matrix …

Starting with the model called the Skill / Will matrix.

The matrix can be used to assess your employee’s skill and willingness to perform a specific task or project.

Based on that assessment, you can choose how to best manage the employee towards success. Note that an employee is seldom in one quadrant all the time, but is likely to fall into one or more quadrants depending on the task.

Some supporting questions you might ask in parallel with your assessment.

  • Does the employee have the necessary time and resources available?
  • Does the employee have the necessary professional qualifications to accomplish the task successfully?
  • Does the employee have the necessary overarching competences?
  • Would this task entail an increase in the qualification and personal development of the employee?
  • Does the task to be delegated accord with the employee’s motivation?
  • How will the team / other departments react if the employee takes on the task?
  • Will it be seen as fair if the employee is awarded this task?


We’ve reached the final category “HOW to delegate” and until now we have given you a lot of material, but not really anything new or creative. So that’s about to change!

Let’s first do a pulse check to ensure you’re clear about the tasks that you have selected for delegation – if not, these should be sitting in the Eisenhower matrix you prepared.

In addition, you have considered the level of support, focus and control needed for each task, plus determined with the aid of the skill / will matrix and your earlier work using the SCARF model, which employees to delegate to which task.

If you are good with all of these then we’re now ready to go back to your Eisenhower model and beside the quadrants if you have not already done so, make a list of all your employees – beside each of their names and at the top of any delegated tasks write the words “Activity of Choice TBC”.

For the next step – send your team a group communication and invite them to join a meeting – at a date and time of your choosing, provided it’s not too far off.

As part of the communication you explain that this meeting will become a regular weekly or bi-weekly event and for the first meeting each person should prepare at least one work related activity which they would really passionate about and love to work on – they have the freedom to decide what it is, but they need to introduce the topic at the meeting and it will be voted on and agreed by the group.

Agreeing on the “Activity of Choice”…

To open the meeting, you introduce the concept and purpose of this and future meetings. You advise that each member of the team will be given an opportunity to develop their skills through various tasks or projects which you will be assigning to them. In addition, they have their “Activity of Choice” – provided it makes the cut.

Moving forward at these future meeting each member of the team will discuss the projects they are working on, the current status and next actions.

By doing this, everyone in the team becomes aware of each-others work and will be required to discuss or contribute ideas to those projects.

Once each new “Activity of choice” is agreed on by the group, the project leader will have the time and resources allocated (after final approval with you of course).

During that first meeting you will ask each person to write their desired activity on the white board and briefly introduce it to the group.

As a group, you discuss the idea, the likely resources and time allocation needed? What value it might bring to the group and the business overall? If any other member of the group has a similar interest and would prefer to forgo their project, in order to work on one of the others, they can do so.

By the end of this first meeting there should be a decision about who is working on what activity or project. 

Following this meeting, you meet with each person to detail the activities / projects / or tasks and we’ll cover that process in our next topic – “SMART rules and reward goals”.

Then for all future meetings one final step – at the beginning of each meeting and before moving into the activity reviews, you have a compulsory “check-in” session where all team members share stories about what they did during the last week-end?

This takes the degree of team connectedness to the next level and softens the relationships from being “all business, all the time”.

Do you recall our 3 whys for delegating – sharing the workload to satisfy your stakeholders, providing opportunities for team development and growth, plus to free you up to focus on the tasks you need to do as a leader!

In addition to achieving these goals can you envisage the power of what you have unlocked through this final step in the process?

By allowing each of the generations to work on something which they are passionate about, rather than only working on those activities which are delegated to them, you empower your people and create a sense of contribution, perhaps even unlocking untapped potential.

By keeping the activities visible to the whole group, you ensure transparency, accountability and engagement, even a sharing of learnings. This in turn should minimize conflict or at worst, bring issues to the surface quickly so they can be openly discussed and resolved.

So, who would have thought that this simple act of delegation could bring so many real team benefits?

The final wrap up …

Well we’re making great progress. Hopefully as we conclude each topic you find an opportunity to practice what has been discussed.

If you have been, then you should already be starting to see some fairly dramatic changes in your teams’ engagement and performance.

Our next video introduces us to the Virtual (online) gaming world as we tap into the secrets behind its popularity and apply this to our more traditional approach of managing by objectives.

The title is “SMART rules and reward goals” – as always, we are looking forward to having you join us. Bye for now.

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