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Delegation —
assigning tasks to others and an important leadership skill

How do you plan, organize, assign and control the action in your operation? Are you the sole planner or is your staff involved? How? Have you built a co-operative culture or is it an 'every man for himself' environment?

To be as effective as possible, you need answers to each question.

Question: Why is delegation a useful management tool?

  1. Because one of the leading reasons for management failure is the inability to successfully manage in a multi-task environment and delegation can help provide a solution.
  2. Because if you don't delegate, as a leader you lead only yourself and an army of one never went anywhere!
  3. Because you may not have necessary skills to do everything yourself.
  4. Because you don't have time to do it all.

Question: How does this process apply to lawn service?

With a staff of sales, production, customer service and administrative people, we have the opportunity to delegate certain tasks to those best suited to accomplish them.

Question: What are the benefits of delegating tasks?

There are benefits to both management and associates:

  • Management benefits
    • Saves management time.
    • Temporarily relieve supervisors in the event of seasonal overload.
    • A tool for staff training and development and evaluation.
    • A means of creating job enrichment and a cooperative workplace environment.
    • A strategy to increase branch productivity and scope of activities
  • Employee benefits
    • Pride in accomplishment
    • Sense of value and importance
    • Expanded knowledge and capabilities
    • Stronger team orientation and co-worker relationship

Question: What kinds of tasks should be delegated?

Several categories of tasks are available

  • Project planning
  • Process improvement
  • Specific problem solving
  • Training and development programs
  • Mentoring

Factors impacting assignment / delegation outcomes

For each of us, there is a point at which, the reward or gain received for doing extra work is not equal to the difficulty or pain we must endure to achieve the objective. At this point, we are no longer motivated to continue and, in time, our productivity actually drops.

Delegate carefully, evaluating attitude about taking on 'extra' assignments

  • present skill level
  • potential to grow and develop
  • employee motives
  • management 'roadblocks'

Which group should be assigned which tasks?

  • New, unskilled people?
  • New, experienced people?
  • Veteran, minimally skilled performers?
  • Veteran, skilled performers?

Making delegation work: the management process

It is very important to distinguish between delegation and simple task assignment. While you will likely assign tasks to new, unskilled people, you will create a more positive response with experienced, veterans by modifying the process to what is truly delegation.

Here's the difference:

Assignment: 'John, since your van is in for repairs, your goal for today is to work with Larry and complete the 22 lawn applications and six service call stops I printed out for you. I've set them up in a tight route. Are you prepared to do that'?

Delegation: 'Tom, as you know, John's van is down for repairs so, I'd like for you to set up a 'stretch' route and take him with you. You can probably add six stops with him along. Can you take care of that please'?

Do you understand the difference?

Let's confirm the most effective management style for each group:

  • New, unskilled - Assignments, directive, close monitoring, less trust.
  • New, experienced - ?
  • Veteran, minimally skilled - ?
  • Veteran, skilled - Delegate projects vs tasks, less directive, more flexibility, greater trust level.

Steps in the delegation process include:

  1. Organize the work, establish reasonable goals, benchmarks, etc.
  2. Assess staff capabilities.
  3. Match the work to be delegated (assigned) to the proper people.
  4. Communicate what, when, where, why and how.
  5. Get employee commitment to achieving the goals.
  6. Confirm no 'roadblocks'
  7. Execute the plan
  8. Follow up at pre-planned points in the process.
  9. Recognize and react to performance.


  • Understand and accept the fact that you are still ultimately responsible for the outcome and results.
  • Establish yourself as a respected, inspirational leader before you begin the process.
  • Be willing to give up some of your 'favorite' work along with unpleasant tasks.
  • Understand tasks in terms of time, expense and basic skill requirements.
  • Assess your staff for attitudes, aptitudes and basic skills.
  • Assess yourself as a delegator.


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