How to delegate effectively by Dan White

By Guest Contributor Dan White

Author of The Soft Skills Book, Dan White explains how to delegate effectively as a manager for the benefit of you and your team.

Businesses with a hierarchical structure need to delegate effectively in order to keep costs down and deliver value to customers. Tasks should generally be assigned to the lowest-paid person capable of performing them. This requires effective delegation: junior team members being briefed on important tasks and empowered to perform them without significant senior intervention.

The ‘POUCH’ framework illustrates the principles of effective delegation:














The ‘POUCH’ represents the high stakes associated with delegation and the importance of trust. Successful delegation means finding someone you can rely on to do the job and trusting them to get on with it once you’ve briefed them.



This involves identifying who is able to complete the task and brief- ing them thoroughly. To guarantee success, the designated individ- ual needs to have the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to complete the task well.



The person to whom you’ve delegated must understand what needs to be achieved, in what timeframe, and be aware of any other con- straints related to the project. However, they should not be told exactly how to complete the task. Instead, they should be given the freedom to achieve the outcome in their own way.



When delegating a task to someone, it’s important to ask them to play back the requirements in their own words. This provides an opportu- nity to point out missing details and for clarification if necessary.



Effective delegation requires the employee to guarantee on-time delivery. If they have any concerns about completing the task, ask what could prevent them from delivering successfully, discuss what would need to happen in order for them to pull it off and figure out how to make this happen.



Before leaving your employee to get on with the task, ask them to anticipate obstacles that might push them off track. For each poten- tial obstacle, agree on the support they’ll be given to overcome it.

Delegation is an important skill, but even if you’ve mastered it, you should still keep in regular touch with your employees to give them an opportunity to discuss topics that aren’t related to specific tasks or projects. The best way to do this is via regular one-to-one conversations — perhaps 30–60 minutes each week, depending on their level of autonomy. These routine discussions build trust and provide an opportunity for the employee to broach personal or sensitive matters without the having to request a special meeting. One-to-ones are primarily for the team member’s benefit, designed for them to ask questions, discuss ideas, request feedback and coaching, or raise concerns.














One-to-ones tend to work best if the employee talks through their progress and is encouraged to mention anything else they wish to discuss. The manager should listen actively and develop the conversation around whatever the person wants to talk about, providing feedback if requested but not using these catch-ups to appraise performance. If appropriate, the meeting could also be used to share progress updates, discuss upcoming work or flag changes in the business if these haven’t already been covered in wider team meetings.

If the team works remotely for much or all of the time, the manager needs to check in with employees more often so they don’t begin to feel isolated or demotivated. Talk with your people and find out what works best for each of them. Many who work remotely will find it helpful to have a quick catch-up at the same time each day, ideally using a video platform, so they can provide a progress report and highlight any emerging barriers or concerns.


DAN WHITE is a marketing and insights innovator. His frameworks and visualizations have influenced generations of marketers via the methodologies they have informed, including the world’s leading brand measurement, media evaluation and copy-testing systems. This unique blend of expertise ensures that every piece of advice offered in The Smart Marketing Book and The Soft Skills Book is based on robust evidence and a wealth of practical experience.




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