Seven Keys to Effective Delegation

Make your employees stronger, more capable and ready to help your company succeed.

The same things that made you successful in your business can also keep you from moving further ahead. You may try to do everything yourself, but sooner or later, you need help from your employees. We asked seven manufacturing management professionals for perspectives on effectively delegating responsibilities. Here are some nuggets of advice:

In first-generation companies, entrepreneurs have a hard time letting go. Why? Because they see problems and intervene before anybody else can spot and correct them. Listen to your employees and respect them. Trust their judgments and allow them to make mistakes they can learn from.  

--Juergen Boenisch, JBeeline Consulting Inc.

You can be so focused on something that you are blind to input and perspectives team members can provide. They can make meaningful contributions when you help them understand the issues and concerns by making your work visible and transparent. That makes letting go of responsibilities easier. --Jim Garrick, process improvement advisor at FedEx Express Lean Operations, coauthor of Yes Innovation: Everyday Improvement, Everyday Leadership

If you delegate a task, make sure the team member has the skills, the instructions and the resources necessary to carry it out. Provide coaching without taking away responsibility to complete the job. Clearly define your role and avoid the temptation to do the job yourself. Let go. Show you trust your employees. And do more than give praise and provide meaningful work--find ways to foster employee self-esteem and self-confidence. --Tim McMahon, lean implementation leader, blogger and founder of, contributing author of  The Lean Handbook: A Guide to the Bronze Certification Body of Knowledge

Make sure that people have a reasonable chance to succeed. Not only do they need the required skills and abilities, they also need time to experiment and find resources. --Chuck Yorke, coauthor of  Yes Innovation: Everyday Improvement, Everyday Leadership

To create accountability, clearly define expectations, ownership (sole ownership, not shared) and how success will be measured. Clarity is key. --Karen Martin, president of the Karen Martin Group, coauthor of The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence 

Trust is not given, it's earned, but you have to start somewhere. Give people the tools and training they need. Treat them with dignity and respect. Hold them accountable. Empower them to make decisions. Celebrate successes and make people feel good about doing good. --Gary Jag, vice president of operations, Argo Inc.

Grow your people. Your job as a leader is to be a great coach and to create an environment where your associates can experiment and learn quickly. As you let go of control, your employees will make mistakes, but as they gain experience, they will learn and become more capable. And, as your associates grow and mature, so will you. --Michael Bremer, The Cumberland Group, author of Escape the Improvement Trap


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