There aren't enough hours in the day for you to do everything yourself.

So as a leader, delegating is a must.

But sometimes there's a fear that someone else won't do the job the way you'd like them to.

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Does this sound familiar? If so, you have an opportunity to set clearer expectations when delegating. Clear expectations are essential to set your team member up for success, and achieve the results you are hoping for.

Mutual Understanding

Setting clear expectations requires that you and your team member both have a shared understanding of the task requirements. This includes:

  • What "done" looks like

  • The process

  • The timeline

If there's a misunderstanding related to any of these factors, the results may disappoint you.

What Does "Done" Look Like?

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Be very clear about what output you are expecting when you delegate a task.

  • If the task is writing a report... how long should it be?

  • If the task is calling back a customer... is a follow-up required?

  • If the task is buying an item... should it be purchased from a specific place?

The more specific and direct you can be in your instructions for what "done" looks like, the easier it will be for your team member to meet your expectations.

Does The Process Matter?

You've set clear expectations about the output, but does the process of how the task gets done matter to you?

For example. Mona sets expectations that Jaz will prepare dinner for 12 guests at 6pm on a certain budget. But would it matter if Jaz buys the food from a restaurant, or cooks it herself?

There are many ways to get a job done.

If you have preferences related to how a team member completes a task, ensure that you make this clear.

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Set a Clear Timeline

Be explicit with your expectations for when a task needs to be completed.

Consider this example.

Anil asks Raj to complete a task for early the next day.

At 9am Anil asks Raj if he's done. Raj says no, he was about to get started.

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The communication breakdown occurred because Anil was not clear on what he meant by "early." Raj and Anil have different interpretations of what "early" means to them.

Anil needs to give Raj a specific time to ensure they have they same understanding of the expectation.


Which of these would be the clearest expectation to set with Raj?

Take Action

The next time you're about to delegate a task, pause first.

Consider, what information does this person need to complete the task successfully?

Can I be clear about:

  • What "done" looks like

  • The process

  • The timeline

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If you can't provide clear direction on these points, gather the relevant details before delegating the task.


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