SEA Affiliate Week: Embracing Your Role as a Delegator by Sheena Horton

Hi all! This is Sheena Horton again, Past President for the Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA). I hope you’ve enjoyed SEA’s Professional Development Week! In closing, I want to offer a few delegation tips I’ve learned that I hope you’ll find helpful, too!

Hot Tips: 

  1. Get comfortable delegating. No one teaches you how to delegate, and as you are promoted to new positions, it can be difficult to make the transition to delegating the tasks that you were once completing yourself.

Will the result be what I wanted or needed?

Will it be done wrong so that I’ll have to do it anyway?

Won’t it be faster if I just do it myself? 

To relieve these worries, you need to invest the time, training, and support in your team on the front end to ensure your team members have what they need to complete the tasks you delegate. Not only will you eliminate your delegation jitters but your team members will be more confident in their ability to complete the work. Trust your team. Match tasks to team members’ skills. Shake off the feeling that you’re dumping work on others. You are helping them grow through new experiences so they will be ready to take on the next positions in their careers, just as others did for you.

2. Provide a deadline for each task and help your team members prioritize. Always attach a deadline to a task. If delegating via email, put the deadline in the subject line as well as the body of the email. If team members have competing deadlines, let them know which tasks have priority over others.

3. Give specific instructions and set expectations. The result of a delegated task reflects the quality of the leader’s instructions. Shoddy instructions produce shoddy results. Don’t view typing out instructions or providing walkthroughs as a waste of your time. It’s the opposite! Providing clear instructions and expectations for an assignment increases the likelihood of getting the result you need. It’s important to ask your team members whether they understand your instructions. Providing instructions for repetitive tasks can also be a time saver because it eliminates the need for you to repeat yourself later. Set expectations not only for a task’s specific outcomes but also for the lines of communication that your team members can use for questions or progress updates. Explain the logic behind the assignments you delegate and note the benefits that will come from completing them.

4. Embrace the new. Effective delegation requires clear instructions and specific guidelines, but be careful not to choke your team members’ creativity. Be open to new formats and processes when appropriate and encourage innovation. Allowing team members to work in their own style increases their investment in and ownership over tasks. A fresh pair of eyes can do wonders for enhancing work processes and products. Always provide constructive feedback and show appreciation for your team’s efforts.


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the SEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from SEA Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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