Refrigerator magnet spotted at a client’s office recently: “Of course I don’t look busy. I delegated it right the first time.”

While competent delegation won’t really take away all of your work, it will mean that you’re able to do what you can uniquely do – the functions that will bring business results. You’ll also be helping others develop new capabilities and enhance performance by giving them stretch assignments in a way that optimizes success.

Delegation isn’t giving others stuff to do. It is the effective transfer of ownership for work that equips people to get the job done right the first time.

Too often we don’t invest enough thought and planning to delegation. We pass along an assignment without helpful context or background information. We don’t always share enough about the desired results and how the work will impact the business.Then we  the person falls short of the objectives and we wonder why.

The worst-case result of incomplete delegation is failure, followed by redoing the assignment and/or extensive damage control. Save yourself the trouble by answering these questions as you delegate, so the job is done right the first time.

What is the expected impact? What effect will this work have on the team and/or the organization?

What results are expected? What key indicators will define success? What will be different once the work is done?

What are the boundaries on the work? Who must be involved? What should be communicated to whom and how often? Are there other parameters (“do this, not that”) regarding how the work should be performed?

What are our mutual responsibilities post-delegation? What information will be shared? How often and by what means will we communicate? How will assistance and support be sought and given?

Delegation requires discipline and a commitment to others’ development. If you wonder if it’s worth it, consider the spin-off effects of the assignment tanking. That might make today’s investment seem minute in comparison.

“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted” (David Bly).