Before delegating tasks, you need to choose the best person for each job. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Does the person you have in mind have the knowledge to do the job well? Often, your employee is closer to the action; he or she may be better at a task than you.
  • Will the employee grow from the experience? Will it help make him or her more valuable to the team? One of the main goals of delegating tasks and responsibilities is to help employees grow and expand their abilities. Morale will go up, and the whole company will benefit.
  • Does this employee share your values and perspectives? If he doesn't share your view of what's right and what's wrong, what the right approach is, it's likely he may come up with solutions that aren't acceptable to you.
  • Do they have the three “I's” — initiative, interest, and imagination? You want to choose someone who knows how to think for himself or herself or can be trained to do so. Don't delegate to someone who can't move forward independently.

One way to determine your company's potential stars is to start with an organizational chart showing each employee in his or her own box. Draw a line across each box. On top, rate the employee's performance “A,” “B,” or “C” in their current role. If it's an “A,” wonderful. “B” is acceptable, but it's time to develop a plan to move him or her up to an “A” rating. If you rate any employee a “C,” it's time to take action.

On the bottom of the box, rate each employee on “promotability.” Do they have the potential to be doing more in and for the company? If you have someone who is an “A” in their current position and a “C” in promotability, be thankful that he or she is in place and leave them be.

If someone is a “B” in their current position and an “A” in promotability, she's a prime candidate for more responsibility. If someone is rated a “C” in his or her current job but an “A” in promotability, perhaps the employee is just not in the right position. Think about where else you could use that person.

Once you've narrowed the field, look at your organizational structure. A rule of thumb is to delegate to the lowest level at which a job can be done. Those closest to the actual work being performed or to the decision being made should be involved. They're the ones with the most accurate information. This increases efficiency, and it frequently increases effectiveness.

Remember to discuss any decision to delegate with the employee's manager first. Follow the chain of command so as not to antagonize a key manager.

Delegation should be enough of a challenge to the employee that it stretches him or her to gain new skills. Keep in mind that the employee may need coaching or encouragement to complete the task to your standards.

Next month we'll look at how much authority you'll want to delegate.

—Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage, Laurel, Md., 301.490.5620.