Book Review – Delegating Work

​Delegating Work is another of the mini books from the Harvard Business Press Pocket Mentor series. Written by Thomas L. Brown, it focuses on some of the key principles involved in effective delegation. As is the custom with this series, the book is divided into a section which has the main reading content and a Tips and Tools section. I have briefly reviewed each part of the book below.

Delegating Work: The Basics 

This part of the book has five sub-sections titled:

  • what is delegating,
  • guidelines for effective delegating,
  • preparing to delegate,
  • making the assignment, and
  • Monitoring a delegation.

What is delegating focuses on first helping us understand what delegating is by looking at the purpose of delegating, its benefits and concerns managers have about delegating. The distinction between delegation and empowerment is also covered. 

Here delegation is defined as the assignment of a specific task or project by one person to another and it has the benefit of helping a manager reduce their workload by delegating certain tasks to people who are better skilled to do it.

Under ‘Guidelines for effective delegating, two main guidelines are discussed which are:

  1. Establishing the right environment for delegating which includes encouraging staff to share their special interests and time availability for projects, and avoid dumping tasks you don’t want to do on your team members.
  2. Selecting a delegation  approach and deciding on the best approach to delegating.

Preparing to delegate answers some important question about delegation which are:

  • What are your reasons for delegating?
  • What do you want to delegate?
  • How do you know what not to delegate?
  • What skills does the person you are delegating to need?
  • How will you match the right person to the task being delegated?

Making the assignment covers the practicalities of delegating the task. It goes into a bit of detail about having a delegation discussion covering how best to communicate a task to be delegated. There is also a short session on how to grant authority to the staff member you are delegating to.

Monitoring a delegation is the last section in this part of the book. This very important section touches on:

  • how to track a delegated assignment,
  • providing support to someone you have delegated a task to,
  • handling reverse delegation (when the person you delegated a task to wants to return it to you or wants you to make some of the decisions), 
  • addressing any related problems,
  • reflecting on a completed task or assignment, and
  • teaching others delegation skills.

Tips and Tools

These part of the book has some tools that can help us with delegating. There are four templates which are:

  1. A delegation skills list
  2. Worksheet for preparing to delegate
  3. Delegation assignment tracking form
  4. Task delegation analysis

The section also contains a review test to help you review some of what you read in the book. The quiz has 10 multiple choice questions, followed by answers and explanations for each question.

There is also information on frequently asked questions and reference to articles which can help you learn more about delegation.The

Though this is a small, it has more than enough information to help you learn how to delegate effectively.

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