The Fine Art of Delegation

On the surface, delegation seems to be pretty straight forward.  You simply assign someone a task.  Well, it really isn’t quite that simple if you want to do it right and get the desired results.  First, one must match the person (s) and the task (s).  A bad fit here will always get bad results.

However, having done that you have simply set the stage and the players.  Now it is a question of presenting the assignment so that the assignee is fully on board and understands details like time frame, desired results, and the parameters of the assignment.  This, to continue the metaphor is the script and theme of the show.

Now comes the tricky part, the direction. While you can delegate a task you can not delegate the responsibility.  That remains with you and you will be answerable for the results, or lack thereof.  Having that in mind you must decide how much oversight you will apply, how often, and how much direction you will thrust upon the scene as it develops.

To some degree that will depend on the complexity and length of the assignment.  There is also the issue of how much faith you have in the assignee.  There are really three possibilities here.  One, you give too little guidance and direction.  Two you give too much and micromanage the project,  Three you provide just enough direction, follow-up, and input to reach the desired results.

Of the three, micromanagement is probably the most common.  I am a believer in less leadership is often best.  It provides a learning and growing experience for the assignee beyond what could be achieved if micromanaged.  Of course, that also increases the risk of the project coming off the rails and you will get your comeuppance for the failure.  After a few of those experiences, many managers/leaders simply stop delegating and try to do everything themselves.  That is often a disaster.

One option is to have a regular meeting where you can be advised of progress, and any problems brought to your attention for input.  In any case, to have a consistent hit with your shows, it takes a lot of practice (rehearsals if you will).

To compound the issue further, no two situations are the same and the leader’s judgment is always on the line.


Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent
KEN is a 46 year veteran hotelier and entrepreneur. Formerly owned two hotels, an advertising agency, a wholesale tour company, a POS company, a leasing company, and a hotel management company. The hotels included chain owned, franchises, and independents. They ranged in type from small luxury inns, to limited service properties, to large convention hotels and resorts. After retiring he authored a book, “So Many Hotels, So Little Time” in which he relates what life is like behind the scenes for a hotel manager. Ken operated more that 100 hotels and resorts in the US and Caribbean and formed eight companies. He is a firm believer that senior management should share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of management.

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  1. Thank you Ken for this timely article. Here in our parish we find the same people do all the things needed when called upon and the points you raise in your article will definetly be pass along,, I’ve come to appreicate the art of delegating.

  2. Great points Ken!

    I may add if you will –
    A reasonable established timeline with expected results helps coupled with available resources always helps. Then periodic updates for progress or unexpected problems to be addressed.

    “Less government is the best government.” Ronny Reagan