Delegate properly

It’s frustrating when delegated tasks will not executed correctly or not within the expected time frame. In most cases, however, is not the fault of the other person, but the errors are made when delegating the task.

So, in future, if you are angry about poor task execution, please do not immediately blame your colleague and ask yourself whether you have made an error when delegating the task.

In this article I want introduce a few simple principles that you should observe when you delegate tasks.

SMART principle

The SMART principle will help you to delegate properly. Each letter stands for one of the following concepts.

  • Specific: Define a clear task and the expected result.
  • Measurable: Describe the task in a verifiable way. For example define acceptance criteria.
  • Accepted: Explain the meaning of the task. Your colleague hast to understand why he should do this task.
  • Realistic: Be sure to define a task which can be done in the given time frame. Check whether the required resources and competencies are available.
  • Terminated: Define a clear time frame which is accepted by all involved persons. So if you delegate a task to your colleague you cannot simply tell him a final date, but you have to find a date which is accepted by both of you.

According to the SMART principle you will transfer the responsibility and the framework for action to your colleague. So you have to check whether your colleague has the needed competences. If not you have to give him the needed competences or you cannot delegate the task. Sometimes you also have to explain the consequences if the task is not done properly and you can define alternatives for such a case. For example if you want to delegate a task where a third person needs the task results to continue his work. In this case you may explain that a late execution will delay the whole project schedule. To have a “Plan B” you may define an alternative together with you colleague. For example you can define that he should early communicate possible delays and you will give him additional resources in this case.

Late or incorrect executed tasks

If a task is not correctly executed or to late finished, in most cases, it has one of the following reasons. And with a proper way of delegation you can avoid all these reasons.

  • The expectations were not exactly known.
  • The consequences of a late execution were not suspected.
  • The colleague was not able to do the task because a needed precondition was missed (e.g. not enough competences, missing skills, no time, resource conflicts)


Most people think it is easy to delegate a task. But at the same time most people will delegate in an inadequate way. But by follow some basic guidelines described in the SMART principle it is possible to delegate in a proper way.

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Eine Antwort zu Delegate properly

  1. Pingback: What to do if commitments are not fulfilled? | coders corner

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