There are many challenges to leading and managing, and one of the most difficult is delegating in a way that is effective and ensures success.

We’re hearing from our clients that they’re having an even harder time delegating in this new virtual team environment. 

In our experience delegating
is a challenging skill, one that’s
made more difficult when working virtually

Leaders and managers are often told by their superiors to “just delegate that,” but when they do, they don’t always get the results they’d hoped for. Frustrated, they tend to give up and take the work back onto their already full plate. This isn’t sustainable in the best of times, and it’s particularly problematic under the current circumstances.

Today we’re going to review our 3-step process that will create more successful results when you delegate to others. You’ll find that these 3 steps are even more important now that many of us are working virtually.

It’s important to remember that the individuals you are delegating to will be most successful when they’re engaged in the process and can influence how it unfolds. Yet often when managers are delegating work, they hand off a task with no context, without sharing what success looks like, and without explaining how they’ll need to work with (or around) others to get the task done.

The Three C’s to Successful Delegation

Step 1 ContextExplain the larger context to the person you’re delegating to.

When you ask someone to do something for you, they’ll be much more likely to succeed if they feel respected in the process, they understand what you’re trying to achieve, and if they can see that their contribution is important and valued. Tell them:  

  • what you’re trying to get done 
  • how it fits into the big picture 
  • why it’s important to the team, department, and/or organization
You’ll have engaged them in the larger process so they can see that their work matters.

Step 2 Content: Tell them the specifics of what you need done. 

Really talk it through with them and describe:

  • what success looks like
  • any specific steps you need them to take
  • who they need to work with or check-in with to gather information
  • what the timeline is for the effort
  • what the potential ripples will be of this going well or going poorly
If people know what you’re asking of them, they can give you feedback on whether they can actually do what you’re asking and in the timeframe that you need it.

They’ll have an opportunity to influence you as you determine how you’d like them to move forward.

Step 3 Connection: Be explicit about how you’ll follow up and/or how you’d like them to follow up.

Delegation doesn’t mean you hand something off and act like it’s no longer your concern; therefore, agree to regular check-ins to cover topics like:

  • schedule delays
  • obstacles
  • questions or clarifications
  • regular status updates
People do best when they feel connected to the person who has delegated to them and have an ongoing understanding of the how they are doing on completing the work.

The ability to delegate is critical to success in work and life. It takes some time and effort to ensure it’s done well; but what you’ll find is that as you delegate effectively to the people in your life, you’ll build a trusting working relationship that will allow you, and them, to be more effective and successful.

This week, as you consider delegating, practice these 3 steps and see what a difference it can make.

And, when things are delegated to you, ask your manager to give you clarity on the 3-C’sContextContent, and Connection—so that you can be highly successful in your contributions as well.


We’re here if we  can be helpful—either by phone,
 Zoom, or the virtual platform  of your choice.