Last week, in Back to Basics, as we considered your questions about delegation, we talked about the importance of connecting with your team with gratitude, curiosity, and respect. All of these can help you to build and maintain a culture of leadership and engagement.

Over the years, we’ve had many new and existing managers tell us that they need help delegating.

So, now that we’ve reviewed ways to connect with your team, we’ll discuss a framework to help you delegate successfully.

By not delegating well (or not delegating at all), you run the risk of overburdening yourself, sending a message to your employees that you don’t trust them, and compromising success.

Some of the reasons people give for not delegating include:

  • By the time I explain what I want, it’ll just be faster if I do it myself.
  • The last time I delegated, I didn’t get what I needed, and I had to rework it later.
  • Everyone is busy and I don’t want to bother them.

We know that continuing to take on more work isn’t sustainable in the best of times, and it’s particularly problematic under the current circumstances.

We’ve identified a 3-step process that can help you 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’re delegating to
will be most successful when
they’re engaged in the process
and can influence how it unfolds.

Oftentimes, 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.

We’ve culled this down into the three C’s for successful delegation: context, content, and connection.

Of course, these three work best when you’ve built relationships with the people on your team. So, review the post from last week if you believe those relationships need work.


Explain 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.

Share with them:  

  • what you’re trying to get done 
  • how it fits into the big picture 
  • how it contributes to team, department, and/or organizational success

By doing this, you give them line of sight to how their work makes a difference to success.


Have a conversation with them about the specifics of the project.

Talk through the details with them and share:

  • what success looks like
  • any specific steps you need them to take (this one is important – be sure that they understand where they have agency and where they don’t)
  • 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 it within the constraints you’ve discussed.


Come to an explicit agreement on how and when the two of you will follow-up.

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

  • successes
  • 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 how they’re 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 trusting relationships that 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, if your manager is delegating to you, you can use these 3 steps to negotiate how you work with them to create success.

Please let us know if we can be helpful.

If you’d like support putting this into action,
contact us today.