Executive Master of Leadership Blog

5 Delegation Guidelines when Delegating Tasks to New Employees

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 13, 2018 8:19:00 AM / by USC Price


As a manager, you have likely experienced fatigue, stress and depression because you're overwhelmed at work. If that sounds like you, it’s time to add a new technique to your arsenal of leadership tools: delegation.

In particular, the learner delegation style works best when managers are dealing with subordinates with high motivation, but low capacity. This approach thrives when managers possess a meticulous attention to detail and are able to proactively resolve conflicts in the workplace.

Five Delegation Guidelines

Because delegation is a skill that benefits leaders and subordinates by taking pressure off managers and giving delegates the opportunity to develop their skills, here are five guidelines to follow when delegating tasks to a new employee.

1. Pay Attention to Detail

Effective learner style delegators have a laser like attention to detail. When coaching new employees, this is necessary to ensure that delegated tasks are completed correctly. Being specific and proactive when managing delegates, ensures tasks will be completed without issues.

2. Focus on Risk Assessment

A learner lives their life according to Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” These delegators have the foresight to identify problems before they occur, have the skills to lead solution-based negotiations, and have the ability to implement mutually beneficial solutions.

Contingency plans are always in the learner style delegator's back pocket for when things don’t happen as anticipated.

3. Follow up on Delegated Tasks

Through regular check-ins, managers can track their delegate’s progress. Because the learner style of delegation works best with employees who are highly motivated and possess less technical skills, regular check-ins let the delegate know their manager is available to support them. Regular check-ins also provide an opportunity for managers to encourage employees and seek feedback.

However, learners can come across as distrustful or punitive if their check-ins aren’t done with tact. Managers must employ self-awareness and remain mindful so as not to come across as overbearing or critical when they meet with their subordinates.

“If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings – and put compensation as a carrier behind it – you almost don’t have to manage them.” – Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric


4. Take Time to Teach

Learner style delegators make the best micromanagers. However, this practice often leaves subordinates feeling more like tools than human beings. Although it is often perceived as impolite to point out a person’s flaws, through employing Kim Scott’s concept of radical candor, a manager using the learner-style of delegation can become comfortable giving constructive criticism to their delegates. This practice yields more capable employees, and thus, more time for the manager to focus on big picture goals.

5. Be Warm and Encouraging

Those who apply the learner style of delegation can be perceived as cold if they don’t invoke a good dose of emotional intelligence into their calculated management style. Reward delegates on jobs well done and give them appropriate credit and compensation for their contribution.

Effective Delegation in Management

Successful learner style delegators are managers who know how to identify motivated employees, take charge, and meticulously manage their staff to operate their business or department like a well oiled machine. Because motivated employees who are taking on an advanced project require more oversight, remember to express feelings of support and care rather than authority and control.

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Topics: Delegation

USC Price

Written by USC Price

The USC Price School of Public Policy's Executive Master of Leadership degree program is designed for experienced professionals ready to take their leadership to the next level.

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