How to delegate?

How to delegate?


  • Any manager, in an act of delegation, may be tempted to suggest a solution (even a draft) when entrusting the total or partial implementation of a project to his or her collaborator (the "management by solution").
  • In doing so, he thinks he is doing the right thing: "by helping his subordinate, he saves him precious time". However, the effect on the employee can be negative.

This sheet describes a method of delegation which ensures the empowerment, autonomy and therefore motivation of the employee ("management by results").


What not to do, an example of delegation according to "management by solution":

"Hi, could you organise a team evening at Alfred's restaurant, I thought of Friday in 8. The whole team has to be there, can you check that everyone is available? Oh, by the way, I was there this lunchtime, I took the opportunity to negotiate a joint menu for €30.”

And yet, we are in the context of a SMART objective

The objective is specific and Simple (to organise the team party). It is Measurable (that the whole team attends), Realistic and Temporally defined (Friday in 8). It is moderately Ambitious.

It is important to check that the objective is also Ecological: this means that it must be good for the company and for the employee (e.g. it must not offend his/her values).

Possible reaction of the employee to whom this request is addressed?

"Since he was at Alfred's to negotiate the menu, why didn't he take the opportunity to make a reservation?”

The importance of the “management line”


In order to keep employees fully motivated, they must be given room to express themselves, find solutions and be creative. This "boundary" is symbolised by the management line:

  • It is up to the manager to specify the framework: the context, the objective and the criteria to be respected.
  • It is up to the employee to propose a solution that respects the framework set.

The importance of the process lies in the criteria set out by the manager: they must be both exhaustive and precise. Afterwards, any solution put forward by the employee that meets these criteria is by definition good. Questioning it or adding new criteria would be counterproductive.


What the manager could have asked using this method instead of the previous proposal?

"Hello, I feel some tension in the team at the moment (problem). I would like you to organise a festive event (objective).

This should be done before Friday in 8 (criterion 1).

The important thing is that everyone is present (criterion 2) and that it is a convivial moment (criterion 3).

I envisage a budget of 30 euros per head (criterion 4).”



Train yourself

  1. End the process with constructive criticism to build your employee's confidence and encourage him/her to take further initiatives. You can also offer him/her self-criticism, starting with the positive (e.g. what did he/she confirm a skill about, what did he/she like and why? What difficulties did he/she encounter? How did he/she deal with them? )
  2. Debrief with the employee, ask about possible variances and the possibility of new directions.
  3. Compare the results with the objectives and criteria. Analyse the gap.
  4. Agree to let the collaborator make his or her proposals for achievement.
  5. Check that the list of criteria is accurate and complete.
  6. Prepare with this method: Context, Objectives, Criteria.
  7. Choose a project that you wish to delegate in whole or in part, and the employee who could take charge of this delegation. Delegation is voluntary and assumes the proven competence or identified potential of the employee. It is never imposed.