Delegating 101: What to Delegate and How to Delegate Effectively

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on September 30, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Last week, in our first post on Delegating 101, we looked at why you should delegate, and to whom you should delegate assignments. Now, we turn to the next questions: What should you delegate, and what are some strategies to delegate effectively?

What to Delegate

Legal consulting group Altman Weil Inc. has a great way of approaching delegation by looking at the relationship between risk and complexity. For example, something that is high risk and high complexity should probably stay on your desk, while something that is low risk/low complexity can easily be handed off to someone else. If it's in a high/low mix situation, you can delegate, but retain close supervision.

How to Delegate Effectively

Delegating effectively may mean you have to let go of some bad habits, and develop new good ones. Here are some suggestions:

1. Train.

If you like things done a certain way (within reason), train the people who work with you on how you want things done. You're probably thinking you don't have time to train, but you are wrong; think of it as an investment in freeing up future time.

2. Communicate.

According to executive business coach Irene Leonard, it's imperative that you are clear about what the assignment is, what you expect, and what the deadline is.

3. Monitor.

Setting up a procedure where you can get updates on the assignment is a good practice, according to Ellen Ostrow of Lawyers Life Coach. The last thing you want is to receive work that doesn't meet your standards at the very end; better to see red flags through the process than at the end of the process.

4. Give Feedback.

Giving feedback, whether good or bad is necessary for both you, and the person you delegated work to. According to Irene Leonard, it's especially important to give positive praise (where merited) as it tends to improve work, and go a long way in the morale department.

Continuing Legal Education Instructor Cynthia Sharp notes two important "don'ts" of delegating...

5. Don't Micromanage.

While you want to monitor progress, you don't want to nitpick the whole time -- it defeats the purpose of delegating. Don't be afraid of letting go.

6. Don't Procrastinate.

If you procrastinate, then you're automatically not giving the person you're delegating to enough time to get the work done. If you want good work product, make sure that you delegate with enough time to get the work completed well.

Whether you're on the partnership track or not, delegation is an important part of doing your job effectively. While it may seem like an energy sucker at first, once you put the time in, you'll see that you are working more efficiently.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard