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18 Examples of Delegation

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Delegation is a basic management technique that involves assigning responsibility to another person and granting the appropriate level of authority required to complete the assignment. Delegation usually occurs between a manager and subordinate. Under ordinary circumstances, a manager remains accountable for the outcomes of all delegated responsibilities. The following are illustrative examples of delegation.

Job Descriptions

The expectations for a role as stated in a job description. For example, a job description for a hotel manager that states that they are responsible for handling customer inquiries and complaints.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is the process of setting objectives for employee performance for a period of time such as a quarter or year. For example, an IT manager who sets objectives with a developer that state the developer will deliver the code for a project.


Communicating an instruction, request or command to an employee under your authority. If you are someone's boss, asking them to do something is delegation. If you have no direct authority over someone, any instructions you issue them are simply a request.

Action Items

An action item is something that a person agrees to do in the context of a meeting. These are issued in a formal action plan document or as part of meeting minutes. If you are someone's boss then any action items you give them can be viewed as delegation.

Work Assignments

Formal communication of work assignments such as responsibility for a client or project.


Asking an employee to own something. For example, a marketing manager who assigns an employee to own a campaign.

Team Leads

Asking a direct report to take on a formal or informal leadership role. For example, a construction manager who asks a carpenter to lead a team for a renovation project.

Functional Leadership

Asking a direct report to lead a business function. For example, asking a construction manager to lead safety compliance across all job sites.


Management teams are commonly assigned missions. For example, a CTO who is given a mission to improve the operational efficiency of IT. A mission may span many years and be measured as multiple milestones such that it is more complex than an objective or function. It is generally unfair to assign these to low level staff who may lack the self-direction, relational capital and authority to fulfill a mission.

Named Person

Naming a person as being responsible for some function. For example, naming an employee as a investor's relations contact for a company.


Assigning an employee to manage a relationship. For example, an IT manager who is asked to manage a relationship with a vendor.

Informal Delegation

Delegating a task that isn't documented. This can occur where the task is small, intangible or sensitive. For example, a manager who asks a designer to ask around and try to find information about a client's marketing budget.

Delegation of Authority

Granting your authority to someone as part of delegation. For example, a hotel manager who asks a front desk staff to manage the hotel for a few hours with authority to make decisions regarding customer requests and complaints.

Delegation Without Authority

In many cases, management will delegate work without delegating the authority required to do the work. This requires management to approve any decisions requiring authority. For example, a hotel manager who asks staff to manage the front desk but asks to be called if there are any decisions to be made.

Delegation of Accountability

It is possible to delegate responsibility but it is not possible to delegate accountability. In other words, when you delegate work you remain accountable for any problems that occur. For example, if a CFO delegates responsibility for accounting to a manager they can't claim not to be accountable for any financial problems or accounting irregularities that occur.


In some cases, delegation has political motives. For example, a manager who feels threatened by a talented individual on their team who tries to sideline the individual by assigning them to pointless or low value work.

Setting Up To Fail

Delegating a direct report to an assignment where they are likely to fail. For example, a manager who accepts an unrealistic mission or goal who then assigns it to you. Setting up to fail can also involve a lack of experience, support, training, resources and authority that makes a work assignment more or less impossible.

Unjustified Assumptions

In some cases, managers feel that they have delegated work based on assumptions that haven't been properly communicated. For example, assuming that someone is dedicated to a project because you invited them to a project meeting without communicating an actual work assignment or action item.


Generally speaking, delegation can only occur from a manager to a direct report. Exceptions exists for matrix organizations where you have authority over an employee in a particular context such as a project.
Overview: Delegation
Management Strategy
Assigning work to a direct report.
Strategy implementation
Process efficiency
Employee engagement
Training & growth
Common Pitfalls
In some cases, a manager will attempt to abdicate responsibility for a delegated task if it's difficult or likely to fail.
Unclear delegation that fails to communicate or document why, who, what, how, when, where.
Lack of authority to execute delegated responsibilities.
Delegation without appropriate training and support.

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