Why verbal delegations cause headaches for the manager?

A manager in any company is often overwhelmed by continuous interruptions from those reporting to him/her.  In order for managers to have enough time to complete their work, they need tools to minimize interruptions.  These interruptions eat up office time, which leads to managers their working through their evenings and weekends.



One tool to prevent this from happening is a Delegation Agreement (DA) through which manager outlines the task to be completed in writing as a work order, rather than a verbal task request.


Let’s look at a real example using a made-up name.  Before I knew what a Delegation Agreement was, I assigned Justin, a generally reliable junior team member, a task verbally.  The task was to be completed in two weeks fitted between his ongoing work as CAD technician.  I told him to check in with me after one week to see if there were any questions regarding the assigned task.


Justin said “No problem, I’ll get the job done”


As week passed and Justin came to me asking “Can you repeat the task details I promised to do.  I was so busy, I never had a chance to think about it.”  I repeated the task details, but I reminded him that the dead line was now only a week, same as before.


Again, Justin said “no problem, I’ll get it done”


The day before the task was due, Justin came to me and said “I’m running behind on the task you asked me to complete and will need a couple of extra day to finish.”

Another week went by and I asked Justin to show me the completed task. He presented it to me in incomplete form, using the excuse that the instructions provided to him were not clear.


I was angry and frustrated. 

During the course of completing this task I had numerous interactions with Justin with marginal results. This scenario often repeated itself, each time undermining my efforts toward creating a positive smooth operating company culture.


The frustration I felt led me to explore and research tools to do this differently.  I was happy to learn that there is an easy-to-use solution to address this recurring problem:   The Delegation Agreement.


In the Delegation Agreement, the manager lays out the task in detail, in writing.  The expectations of the completed task are clearly outlined as well as the deadline. Once the delegation is written it is reviewed with the team member or team members who are to complete the task.  All elements are reviewed until there is understanding and agreement.  The one expected to complete the task asks any questions and may want to change some aspect of the Delegation.  The Delegation is altered if necessary to mutual agreement.


Once consensus is reached, the Delegation Agreement is signed by both parties, each party receiving a copy of the agreement.


I gave Justin another task utilizing a Delegation Agreement.  He completed the task on time and to his managers complete satisfaction.  During the course of completing the task Justin had no questions and posed no interruptions to his manager.


Upon completion of the task the manager evaluates the work:  Is it on time or not?

Is it exceptional, very good, satisfactory or unsatisfactory?  The manager adds any remarks to give the team member useful feedback on the work offering a great learning opportunity.


This Delegation Agreement is then put into the team member’s employment file so that it can be referenced for year-end review and employee evaluation.


Since team members understand that they will receive feedback, they take extra effort and care to complete the tasks.  This Delegation Agreement along with others will form part of the employees annual performance review bringing factual information to the year-end performance review rather than vague memories of performance over the past year.   The employee will see this as an opportunity to impress the manager will want their success to be recorded, in order to justify requests advancement in the company.


In my experience as an owner and manager of an architectural firm, the Delegation Agreement is one of the most helpful tools to permit me to complete my tasks during the work day and be able to spend time with my family and my interests evenings and weekends. The benefits of using a Delegation Agreement include:

1.     tasks get done satisfactorily

2.     tasks get done on time

3.    the manager’s time interruptions are minimized

4.    the manager has time to complete his/her work

5.     the employee feels better with a sense of working independently

6.    the employee gets structured feedback on his/her work

7.     the employee is free of micro-management

8.     the Delegation Agreement creates a more positive company culture.


After Justin had completed a number of tasks using the delegation agreement, he told me “I like this system!  I don’t need to remember all of the task details, as I have written instructions, to refer to when I’m planning my weeks work.  Also, I know that a record of completed delegations are kept on my file and I know that when I complete work well, it give me a chance for growth and advancement in the company.”


Justin added “the Delegations Agreement get top marks from me”


As manager using this system it gets top marks from me as well, since I spend fewer evenings and weekends at work as I have time to complete my work during regular office hours.


Phone: 780 490 8831

Email: norbert@architectureplusbusiness.com

Website: architectureplusbusiness.com

Twitter: @archplusbis

Blog: Architecture+Business Blog

Author:  The E-Myth Architect   

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