Delegation Skills List and Examples

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When you’re interviewing for a management position or another job where you will have a supervisory role, it’s important to be able to show that you have effective delegation skills.

But how? Demonstrate your abilities by highlighting in-demand delegation skills throughout your job application, from your resume to interview. 

Find out more about how to define the term, along with top delegation skills. 

What Is Delegation?

In a work setting, delegation typically means the transfer of responsibility for a task from a manager to a subordinate. The decision to delegate is usually made by the manager. However, sometimes an employee will volunteer to take on an expanded role.

Delegation can also happen when there is a less formal line of authority. For example, a member of a peer group who has been designated as a leader of a team might delegate tasks to her peers in the group.

Delegation of duties does not necessarily imply a transfer of responsibility. For instance, a manager may ask a subordinate to hire an administrative assistant, but the manager will still review the actions the subordinate takes to accomplish this task, and provide guidance. 

Being able to delegate is important for a supervisor or manager. She needs to be able to trust her employees with responsibilities, while still ensuring that the work is done well.

Top Delegation Skills

Below are five skills required of someone who is good at delegating. These are skills that employers often look for in a manager or a supervisor.

1. Communication

Managers need to be able to communicate clearly with their employees when delegating. They have to explain why an employee has been assigned a task, what the task is, and what the expectations are. All of this requires clear, effective oral and written communication skills.

Listening is also an important communication skill to use when delegating. You need to listen to any questions or concerns of your employee, and make sure he or she understands your expectations.

Related skills: 

  • Asking a subordinate to research and recommend options for new equipment
  • Defining and communicating expectations for results
  • Explaining a task or function to the subordinate

2. Giving Feedback

While delegating means giving an assignment to someone else, this does not mean you are not responsible. You have to check in with the employee, particularly at the end of the task, to make sure the goals are met. Provide clear feedback on what they did well, what they struggled with, and why. This will help the employee perform tasks even better the next time.

Related skills: 

  • Evaluating the performance of the delegatee after the transfer of responsibility

Time Management Yes, someone else is doing the task, but as the manager, you still need to be effective at managing time. You need to give clear deadlines and checkpoints to the employee, and hold that employee accountable. This also requires that you plan out whom to delegate to well in advance. All of this requires organization and time management.

Related skills:  

  • Calculating the amount of time it will take to carry out designated tasks
  • Volunteering to take on greater responsibility to free up a boss

3. Training and Assessment of Tasks

Often when delegating, you will have to make sure your employee or peer has the skills and abilities necessary to perform the task. This might require some training before delegating. A good manager knows how to effectively train his or her employees in a new task or skill. 

Some tasks require a manager's insight and expertise. Before delegating, managers need to assess tasks to determine if it makes sense to pass them along to a subordinate. Another delegation task that managers take on is identifying outside resources — whether it's technology or other companies — that can help with day-to-day tasks. 

Related skills: 

  • Analyzing the tasks required to carry out a project
  • Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of employees
  • Considering incentives or whether additional compensation is warranted for the recipient of new responsibilities
  • Designating the resources required to carry out the function
  • Determining the level of decision-making power to transfer
  • Evaluating whether to permanently change job descriptions
  • Hiring a search firm to generate candidates for an opening
  • Identifying elements of a manager's role that could be offloaded
  • Investigating technology resources that can handle tasks
  • Outsourcing payroll
  • Recognizing priority functions within a manager's own role
  • Training an individual to carry out new tasks

4. Trust

Often, managers do not delegate because they don’t trust their employees to do as good of a job as they would. A good manager trusts the skills of his or her employees. She lays out clear expectations, and provides feedback, but she does not micromanage while the employee works on the task. Trust is key to effective delegating.

Related skills:

  • Selecting the employee whose skills best match the task requirements
  • Shifting the responsibility for evaluating a departmental secretary to a sales team leader

How to Use Skills Lists

Now that you know some of the most in-demand delegation skills, you can use these terms throughout your job search process. Here's how: 

Add skill words/phrases to your resume. In the description of your work history, you might want to use some of these keywords.

Include them in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, you can mention one or two of these skills, and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated those skills at work.

Mention your delegation abilities during an interview. Make sure you have at least one example for a time you demonstrated each of the top five skills listed here.

Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully, and focus on the skills listed by the employer. You can also review our lists of skills listed by job and type of skill for more skills to potentially highlight during your job hunt.