I was just relistening to the podcast on Delegation -- Part II, as I anticipate needing to perform some delegation. Mark posits that there will be 2 possible responses: 1) yes, I'll do it, or 2) no, I can't/won't do it. I anticipate a different response: I need more information before I can say whether I can/will do it.
Extrapolating from what I heard in the podcast, it could force me into a detailed discussion in which we try to address my report's concerns. I understand that this is to be avoided however, so I'm wondering if there's a more effective way to respond?
I'm not sure I have built up the relationship power with the report that would enable me to say something like "How about we determine whether in principle you think you can do this before we get into the details?"
Thanks in advance for any advice, folks.

timrutter's picture

Possible answers might be:

How much information would you like/need?

It's X & Y, you will need resources A & B and I think it should take you around Y hours. Can you do it?


Hope this might help your thought processes


pucciot's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I think this response is dealt with in at least one of the Delegation Podcasts.

Please go back and listen to any Podcast that deals with delegating.

Make sure that this is truly a voluntary "delegation" and not an "assignment" you are giving them.

In general, I think the recommendation is to get the agreement before providing the detailed information - but, do it like a salesman.


Manager :  Will you take on the creation of the weekly stats report ?

Employee :  I don't know. May I have more details before I agree ?

Manager :  Of course, I can give you details later AND I want you to know that I would not delegate this to you unless I was sure that you could do it.  

What are your concerns ?

Employee : I'm not sure, I'd like to get the details first.

Manager :  I'm not going to spend the time right now on the details with you.

I'd like to address your concerns first.  

***** If I can address your concerns, will you take on the creation of the weekly stats report ? *****


The idea is to move to the topic of "What are you concerned about ?"  rather than "What are the details ?"

Just like a good salesman you try to get the commitment before the details

---- "If I address your concerns/ objections will you accept the assignment?"


Then -- listen to the concerns carefully.  Jot them down and come back later with a way to address them, without the details.


Examples :


Employee :  I'm concerned about how long it will take from my week.

Manager :  It takes me 1hr to do that report.  It will take you a little longer at first but eventually it will only take an hour a week.

Does that address your concern ?


Employee :  I'm concerned about not having the right skills.

Manger : That is a valid concern.  When I train you I will teach you more about MS-Excel -- OR I will sign you up for extra MS-Excel training somewhere. 

Does that address your concern ?



Address each concern, thoughtfully, as they are presented.

Yes, this will cause some anxiety for your employee - because you are being cagey about the details.

And that is OK because it will set the tone of all other delegations in the future.

You want them to get into the "Yes I can", "Yes I will" habit.  You are building trust with them.


--- Now be ready for the "NO".   If they say no, after you have addressed their concerns, then let it go.   -- Even if they have agreed they would say yes.

Yes - just let it go.


Employee :  No, Boss, I don't think I want to take on that report.  It sounds like too much time and too much new skill learning. Can I have more details now so I might change my mind ?

Boss :  Nope, I'm not going to get into the details; I addressed your concerns already.   I am sure you can do it, and I wanted to give you a chance to grow into new skills.  But, OK dude.   I'll let you know when another delegation opportunity comes along in the future. 

Excuse me I have something to attend to


-- and then excuse yourself.

Don't beg -- Don't cajole. 

You offered the delegation -- You addressed their concerns -- They said no.

End of the story, for now.


--- If they continue to say NO to delegations then -- "There is a 'Cast for that too.

Three Strikes Delegation



Good Luck 




ottoatm's picture

I generally ask how much they need to know, and if I can tell them I do.  Often, they want to know things I don't know and can't tell them right away, but if they don't want to do it until they get more info, I just say that I'm okay with them not taking it (which I usually am) and tell them I'll give the task to someone else - there's usually someone else willing to take the task, and usually strong performers will take it, complete it, get promoted past the others, and move on.


In some cases they have valid concerns, and then I'll either point them in the right direction of who to talk to, or go and try to get the data for them myself... but me stopping everything and getting more data for them is really the last thing I want to do, so it's pretty rare.


I'm not sure what they say on MT about this - I'll check it out myself! :-) 

pucciot's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Yes, it seems that your are doing right.

There needs to be a spirit of Delegation in the Direct as well.   They have to be willing to take a chance at something new.  Be ready to feel stupid and ill-equipped, for a time.  Be ready to be challenged and possibly fail a little.

And you have to make your Directs comfortable enough in the workplace to have little failures so that they are willing to try new delegations.  Let them know that if they accept a delegation and fail (a little) that you won't slap them with a Pink Slip.  That you will give them time and space to learn how to do it right.

Yes - you should tell them that part of your job is to push them a little, to stretch them and their skills a little.  

And it is natural for everyone to feel a little stressed and uncertain and scared and foolish and stupid whenever they are facing a new task.

That is all part of growth and development.

You can't and shouldn't tell them everything they need to know until they accept the delegation.

If they can't accept with only the briefest of details then they are not ready for delegation.

They don't have the spirit and confidence to move onwards and upwards.

And that is fine if they are happy exactly where they are and what they are doing.

And then you can refer to the podcast :

Three Strikes Delegation


Good Luck