How to delegate at work without horrible results

This is a guest post by Dana Brownlee.

How familiar is this scenario in the workplace? “ I have a million things to do in order to finish that project. Do I need to delegate work to others? Or should I try to do it all?” Delegation is a critical skill, yet according to most business productivity experts, it’s completely underutilized in the workplace.

A corporate trainer for Fortune 500 companies, Professionalism Matters Founder Dana Brownlee has found that if you don’t know when to delegate and when not to, it can bring horrible results.

She offers these general guidelines about deciding what to delegate.

How important is the task?

Typically, it’s safer/less risky to delegate less important tasks. And there are certain tasks that you just need to do yourself. If the success or failure of this task will make or break your business, you probably don’t want to delegate it. Clearly, you typically want to retain control over areas that are critical to your success. For someone starting a new consulting business, you’re probably not likely to delegate client facing activities because they’re so important. Behind the scenes you may want to delegate a lot of administrative work, but you want to control what is presented to the client for sure and you most likely want to do that yourself.

Is the task an area where you have core competence (or you don’t)?

If it’s an area where you’re an expert/a whiz/you can do it quicker, faster, better than most, than do it! If its website development and you can’t spell JAVA much less code it, then you’re probably better off delegating or outsourcing. To the contrary if you’re starting a training business, you really need to develop your content. No one can do that for you. That’s your area of core competence and your business should benefit from that and you need to put your personal stamp on it.

How complicated is the task?

Some tasks are just difficult to delegate because they’re too complicated to explain to another person or you have so much historical knowledge that the task would suffer if it were delegated. For example, if you have worked on a project for six months, you probably wouldn’t want to delegate the production of the final report to someone else on your team (unless they’ve been as involved as you have). Making that handoff so late in the process would most likely cost more in quality and efficiency than it would save.

About Dana Brownlee
Dana Brownlee is the founder of Professionalism Matters, Inc, a practical professional development training and management consulting company founded in 2003 that uses exciting methods to train business individuals and their teams to reach new levels of performance.

Brownlee is also the founder of, an online resource for the latest meeting facilitation tips, techniques, and instructional videos. has produced two cutting edge meeting facilitation training DVDs: Are You Running a Meeting or Drowning in Chaos? “and “5 Secrets to Virtually Cut Your Meeting Time in Half.”

She is highly sought out as a corporate trainer and speaker who has garnered years of critical team leadership and management consulting experience through her years with AT&T Bell Labs, AT&T, IBM Consulting, and EMC Corporation. Other impressive credentials include an MBA (Emory University), BIE (Georgia Tech), BS (Spellman College), IBM Business Transformation Consulting Certification, Project Management Professional, and Myers Briggs Type Indicator Qualification.

Her broad range of clients that run the gamut from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, Emory Professional Learning Program, Southern Company, Southface Energy Institute, Learning Tree International, OCI Chemical Corporation and many others. Brownlee’s corporate advice has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNN, Working Mother, Redbook, and many more media outlets.

More information available at

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