Effective delegation can be a powerful tool in engaging your employees well. This is especially true during this season of more remote work and less in-person interactions. More than ever, now is the time to take stock of your delegation style and improve it. In our experience, we have seen a hierarchy of delegation styles emerge with varying degrees of effectiveness in the workplace. Some exhaust. Some empower. Which style do you use?

How to Exhaust Your Team

  1. Verbal Communication.

Topping the list as the least effective delegation method is Verbal Communication. While the easiest to give, this is the hardest to receive. Verbal communication is ripe for misunderstanding and forgetting. They leave no paper trail to refer back to, so employees cannot confirm details or due dates. And the leader cannot check in on progress without asking the employee. We often see this method used in a way that interrupts the recipient and pays no regard to their current workload. It also makes it almost impossible to correctly prioritize that task compared to the rest of their responsibilities.

  1. Post-It Notes.

A close second for the least-effective delegation method is the Post-It Note. Personally, I loathe this method the most. Cluttering another’s desk with random tasks and questions may be the ultimate obstacle to productivity. The likelihood that a task is lost, covered up, or missed is tremendous. It is difficult to organize tasks by priority, yielding to the default of focusing on whatever they see first – if they see it at all. Like Verbal Communication, it is also very difficult to prioritize Post-It Tasks in light of the recipient’s other responsibilities. Indeed, Verbal Communication often lead to Post-It Notes as the recipient struggles to jot down the details of the given task. This leads to a very reactive and disorganized day.

  1. Email System.

The next – slightly better – delegation method in this hierarchy is the Email System. While this method provides a paper trail directly to your employee’s inbox, you still run a high risk that the email is deleted, overlooked, or pushed out of the first page of emails. Now, the recipient must either flag the email, remember it, or print it – none of which allow them to correctly prioritize their activities that day. The leader must dig through their sent emails to find outstanding tasks, and must ask about progress on each task.

To varying degrees, each of these delegation methods interrupts your team and devalues their time and energy. They also set up your team to react to you all day, rather than proactively planning their day around the most important tasks and seeing those tasks through to completion.

How to Empower Your Team

Employees work best when they have a sense of ownership over their time and work. One easy way leade