Think about a time that you were delegated to poorly. In some cases, a project was given to you without the information you needed to successfully complete the task. In others, the project was one that no one wanted, and “delegating” was simply the term used to dump it on someone else. At other times, the boss second-guessed your every move.

Now flip the coin and think about a time when the delegation of a project went particularly well. What happened? The manager took the time to explain the project completely and to answer questions. You understood the expected results. You were given the resources to develop the project. Your boss allowed you to devise solutions and checked in with you enough to help — but not to intrude. When you were successful, everyone was proud and happy.

Now it's your turn. Here are some steps to consider when beginning your journey into delegation.

Decide when to delegate: A basic rule of thumb is to delegate before you have to. Wait too long and two problems result: First, delegation becomes simply a method for relieving the manager's workload and stress — a primary reason for delegating is forgotten (that of training employees to be thinking, responsible, contributing team members) — and employees will feel that they are pressure valves for managers and not really valued.

Second, when delegation occurs only under pressure, there's no time for training. Mistakes and failures will increase, and managers will be tempted to take back tasks in order to ensure quality — defeating the purpose.

Decide what to delegate: Look at routine activities. Are there simple administrative tasks that could be given to others on staff? If so, do it now.

If you're planning to delegate more advanced tasks, ask yourself if your employee's capabilities will be expanded by the assignment — a central reason that you chose to delegate.

Never underestimate a person's potential; delegate slightly more than you think the person is capable of handling. Expect them to succeed, and you will be pleasantly surprised more often than not.

But don't just delegate scut work. Standard thinking is to delegate those things you hate doing. Yet some experts take the contrary view that delegating a few things that you love will keep you interested in your employee's progress and successes.

However, there are some activities you should never delegate: creating the long-range vision for the company; hiring key department managers; performance appraisals for management; disciplinary action for key managers; financial management; and strategic planning.