Delegate to Project Team Members and Coach Them to Succeed

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Project managers have notoriously full schedules. As difficult as it can be sometimes, delegating is a must.
While more than 80 percent of our time is spent communicating, the other aspects of the job are crammed into the remaining 20 percent. If we focus too heavily on individual tasks, we will crash into our myriad deadlines.

This is where delegating becomes essential to leading successful projects.

Personally, I would rather do everything myself than ask another team member to do things for me. But this attitude can lead to significant catastrophes:

  1. I would miss my deadlines or have to sacrifice my personal time to complete the tasks.
  2. My team members will always be team members that follow instruction. They wouldn't grow in their capacity to eventually manage projects on their own.
When you delegate tasks to a team member, you're indirectly training this person to be more actively involved in the project. You can delegate to one particular team member or involve every team member in the process.

First, tell team members the information that you need and give them a deadline. Prepare a template to make it easier for them and to ensure you get all the necessary information. For good measure, I might remind them of what I need from them 24 hours before the deadline.

Delegation has a few benefits. First, you'll make your deadlines because you'll get the right information from the right sources, on time.

Secondly, team members are exposed to structured work and reporting methods, and will see the significance of the work they contribute to the project. Finally, you'll increase trust within the team because of greater responsibilities, which can enhance self-worth for team members.

What is your take on delegating? What tasks have you delegated to your team members? What positive impacts do you see from delegating tasks to your team members?
Posted by Hajar Hamid on: August 17, 2011 11:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (9)

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Jon Hyde
Hi Hajar,

I think it's so important to carefully consider what to delegate. In the past I have delegated critical communications tasks with disastrous results (stakeholder expectations wildly raised by an over enthusiastic team member).

So I agree that delegating is a must, however I'm careful to personally hang on to absolutely critical tasks e.g. negotiation with a third party contractor, adjustments to the critical path etc.


Hi Jon,

Thanks for your feedback.

I agree that we must be extra cautious in delegating delicate or critical tasks. When we considering to delegate a task, it is important to see also the experience and behaviour of the team member.

For more serious tasks, consider choosing a more mature member over another. Seniority (in age or work experience) does not necessarily translate to a more mature attitude, mind you! :-) So yes, I agree we have to be selective when delegating.

Rafael M. Heise
In my opinion, to delegate tasks you must be sure about what you're delegating and what you're expecting from that. And you should know about what everyone can do.

You should never delegate critical things to someone who is not prepared for it. If you delegate tasks you will prepare your team for the future.

Amit Maisuria
I agree with Jon's comment below with regards to being careful what you delegate and to whom. However if you do chose correct, the positive impact can be advantageous not just from a PM workload point of view.

Equally as important, it provides staff an opportunity to boost their knowledge, confidence, profile within the company and personal development.

Satish Seetharam
I do agree with the comments made here.

We should be careful while delegating a particular work to a team member. Also he should be aware of his responsibility once the work has been delegated from PM to carry forward the same.

Petros Rigas
I agree delegation is at the heart of meeting schedule expectations. However, surely we must consider the type of organization the project belongs to.

If it were a matrix type organization and if the project manager has enough leverage and influence to ensure the delegated member delivers as expected, then there is no question delegation is a crucial aspect towards project success.

When working for a functional type organization where the project manager is more of a consultant and has less influence on individual functional units, then it can become a nightmare.

Delegation helps to rise an overall commitment of the team, since the involvement is much higher (team members become not only implementers, but something more).

And on the other hand, you personally get more time for other activities and grow together with your team.

Delegation enables you to create value for your customer as well as for your team members....however delegation should be done diligently, else it can become overhead...

Akanimo Udo
I agree with the overall assertion that delegation indirectly trains a member of the team. Delegation also provides each member of the team with a sense of personal responsibility for the viability of the project. However, for delegation to be effective, the individual must be motivated or a have professional/personal interest in the work being delegated.

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