Jacob Kaplan-Moss


Delegate Outcomes, Not Methods

I’ve previously shared one of my foundational principles of delegation: “give away your toys”.

My other, just as important principle: delegate outcomes, not methods.

In other words, tell your delegate the results you expect to see, but let them decide on how to achieve those results. Delegation is in part a learning opportunity, and being overly proscriptive about methods robs your delegate of much of the opportunity to learn. It can also start to veer into bad management: good managers provide a great deal of autonomy, and this is particularly true of delegation.

It’s fine to give suggestions – sometimes I’ll say, “if I were doing this, I would …”, but make it clear that results are what matter.

As a bonus: not only is delegating outcomes more effective, but you’ll also often learn something yourself. Watching someone use very different methods from your own can teach you ways of thinking about problems you might not have anticipated. It’s really neat when this happens!