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Oct 18, 2018

Delegation Tips for Chief Operating Officers

If you are a Chief Operating Office, you know how vital delegating is.

It is not possible for you to be involved in every aspect of your business’ operation, but by delegating well, you can feel confident that your team is carrying out your instructions efficiently and productively.

Remember to:

Delegate strategically and authentically. Understand what you should do and what you should hand off to others. Be aware of where you’re most needed, and know what you do best. Take on those tasks, and delegate the others.

Provide detailed instructions and a due date for assignments.

Follow up and check on your team’s progress throughout the course of the project. Be ready to offer individual assistance when needed.

Provide feedback and recognition for a job well done.

Learn to Let Go

Inc.com writer Jayson DeMers noted that one of the toughest things bosses and leaders need to face is learning to let go. “Sometimes they feel so dedicated to completing their work that they refuse to let other people help,” DeMers wrote. “Other times, they fear that nobody else has the skills or abilities necessary to execute the work effectively.

Do you establish firm priorities, as COO? “The highest-skilled category should contain tasks that you keep on your own plate,” wrote DeMers . Assign to others those that do not require the same skill level.

It’s also essential for COOs to be willing to teach new methods. If you are ready to transfer your learned skills to another team member, you will strengthen your team and your efficacy.

Jesse Sostrin of Harvard Business Review advised that if you are not a natural at delegating, consider what you would do if you had to take an unexpected week off work. Sostrin suggested that you “extend your presence through the actions of others.”

Empower Others

Here are his tips on how to do this:

1. Start with your reasons: Sostrin noted that “when people lack understanding about why something matters and how they fit into it, they are less likely to care. However, if you give them a context about what’s at stake, how they fit into the big picture, and what’s unique about the opportunity, then you increase personal relevance and the odds of follow-through.” Don’t give your team the chance to guess why completing a project is key to your organization’s success. Be clear and spell out the reasons why it is vital.

2. Inspire their commitment. Your co-workers will get excited and motivated to do a job well when they not only understand why it is critical but feel that you have trusted them with this responsibility because you have confidence in them. This will inspire and encourage them.

3. Engage at the right level. Sostrin also pointed out that you should be as engaged as you can, but deliver support and let your employees feel accountable. Feel free to ask your staff if they think that you are involved at the right level, or if they sense they are being micro-managed. If they do, loosen up.

4. Practice saying “yes,” “no,” and “yes, if.” You can’t accept every project that comes your way from the CEO or Board, so you have to prioritize and determine which tasks most need your attention, and which can be delegated. You need to be discerning with your time.

As you learn to delegate, you will also acquire the habit of listening to others, being willing to receive as well as give feedback, and be open to debate. If a team member thinks of a faster way to solve a problem, be willing to listen to her and consider the pros and cons of her argument. Being open and accessible in this way will build your team’s confidence not only in their abilities but in your leadership skills.

Once you delegate, then step aside. Don’t get in the way of the colleague to whom you have given a project. Don’t look over his shoulder on an hourly basis. You wouldn’t like it if your CEO did this to you, would you? Just delegate, and let go.

Often, as COO, you not only need to delegate your projects, but you need to offer support to your CEO to assist him or her in letting go of too many, as well. A good Chief Operating Officer can help a CEO know how to streamline aspects of the business that are not working well and eliminate procedures and processes that stand in the way of efficiency.


If you can do these things: prioritize, let go, explain the reasons a project is essential, and provide useful feedback to your team members, you are on your way to delegating well. Your company will reap the benefits, and you will not only be giving your employees the opportunity to develop their skills, but you will be honing your leadership ability, as well.

You want to be a good team leader. Look for the right openings, and be willing to pass the ball! In addition, you can follow these 5 COO skills of Bill Belichick to ensure optimal delegation.


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