If you have ADHD or think you might:
The A.D.D. Resource Center can help!

The Art of Delegation: How to Assign Work to Your Underlings

March 25, 2024 by

©2024 Harold Robert Meyer – All rights reserved
https://www.addrc.org/ info@addrc.org 03/25/2024

Article Image

Mastering the art of delegation delegation is pivotal for effective leadership, offering numerous advantages such as saving time, fostering leadership skills among team members, and, most importantly, preventing burnout.[1][3]Leadership and management are intertwined skills crucial for managing employees and ensuring project success. Understanding how to delegate can greatly impact both leaders and their teams, supporting better management and communication within a project and paving the way for becoming an effective leader.[2][5].

When executed well, this process builds trust and fosters a productive environment that benefits the entire organization, exemplifying trust building at its finest.[3].

A 2007 study highlighted a concerning gap in employee delegation skills, with nearly half of the companies surveyed reporting apprehensions about their team’s capabilities in this area. Yet, only 28% provided any training on the subject, underlining a significant need for talent development.[1]Effective delegation goes beyond merely assigning tasks; it involves a strategic approach to task assignment, encouraging clear communication, and promoting skill development and role clarity. As we delve into the nuances of assigning work to your underlings, we will explore the best practices for task allocation, common challenges, and tools that can streamline the process for enhanced team performance and efficiency.[2][4][5].

Understanding Task Assignment and Delegation

Understanding the distinction between task assignment and delegation is crucial for effective leadership and management, especially when one or both parties have ADHD. Here are key points to consider that will aid in decision-making:

  1. Warning Signs of Insufficient Delegation:
    • Working long hours and feeling indispensable are red flags [1].
    • A team that isn’t taking ownership over projects indicates a need for better delegation practices to foster project ownership.[1].
  2. Challenges in Delegation:
    • Perfectionism, fear of diminishing one’s role, a lack of self-confidence, and the prevailing organizational culture are common barriers to delegation. Overcoming these can empower employees, fostering a more dynamic and collaborative workplace.[1].
    • For individuals with ADHD, the challenges of workplace efficiency are often magnified, particularly when it comes to prioritization and the effective management of time.
  3. Key Differences Between Assignment and Delegation:
    • AssignmentAuthority transfer in the business context involves the handover of rights, with the assignee gaining the ability to seek legal recourse if performance is subpar. Typically, assignments are more straightforward and subject to fewer limitations than other forms of delegation.[7].
    • DelegationDelegation entails a strategic resource allocation, where obligations are passed on yet the original delegator maintains ultimate accountability. This process isn’t universally applicable, and the liability remains with the party who delegates the task.[7].

Grasping these subtleties is crucial for leadership, especially for those directing teams with ADHD members. It enables better navigation of task assignments and delegation, leading to a more productive and empathetic work environment.

The Art of Allocating Tasks

Effective task allocation, a vital facet of successful delegation, becomes even more critical when ADHD is a factor. It demands skill alignment, a deep understanding of each team member’s capabilities, strengths, and interests to ensure optimal engagement.

  1. Assess and Match Skills to Tasks:
    • Identify tasks based on priority, starting with the most critical ones [13].
    • To facilitate efficient resource allocation, it’s essential to match tasks with employees who not only have the requisite skills but also have the capacity to take on additional responsibilities without being overburdened.[13][17].
    • For individuals with ADHD, selecting tasks that resonate with their passions or present opportunities for skill enhancement can be a powerful motivation technique, bolstering their drive and concentration.[13].
  2. Communication and Expectations:
    • Clearly define each taskClarifying the importance of each task, including its role in achieving goal alignment within the larger project, is essential to ensure all team members comprehend their responsibilities.[14][19].
    • Set clear deadlines and maintain transparency throughout the process [14].
    • Encourage team members to build independence while remaining available for guidance. [14].
  3. Feedback and Adjustment:
    • Regularly collect feedback from team members to assess the effectiveness of the task allocation [17].
    • Effective change management requires being adaptable with task assignments, taking into account the feedback received or any alterations in project scope or team capacity.[17].
    • Performance monitoring is a vital step for ongoing improvement and sustaining efficient workflow, especially critical when overseeing employees with ADHD.[17].

Concentrating on these pivotal aspects can significantly refine a leader’s approach to delegation, culminating in a team that is more engaged and productive.

Best Practices for Delegating Tasks

To master the art of delegation, particularly in scenarios involving ADHD, it’s beneficial to incorporate proven leadership best practices.

  1. Start with Self-Reflection:
    • Keep a daily diary to identify low-leverage activities for delegation [1].
    • Measure your delegation performance to pinpoint improvement areas [1].
  2. Create a Culture of Accountability and Development:
    • Incorporate delegation into staff development plans [1].
    • Ask peers to hold you accountable for delegating tasks [1].
    • Recognize and celebrate team efforts to encourage ownership [20].
  3. Addressing Challenges:
    • Overcome fear of losing control by setting clear expectations and focusing on outcomes [20].
    • Tackle reluctance to delegate critical tasks through comprehensive training and maintaining open communication [20].
    • Prioritize tasks based on importance, allowing some to be de-prioritized [20].
  4. Empowerment and Support:
    • Encourage team members to take ownership by delegating tasks that align with their skills [20].
    • Schedule regular meetings for updates and feedback [20].
    • Invest in training and provide necessary resources and support [26].

By embracing these strategies, managers can cultivate a collaborative culture that not only enhances productivity but also engages every team member, harnessing the strengths of those with ADHD for the collective triumph of the project.

Common Challenges in Task Assignment and How to Overcome Them

In mastering the intricacies of task assignment, leadership skills become pivotal, particularly when ADHD is involved. It’s essential to comprehend the usual hurdles and devise plans to surmount them. Here’s an analytical breakdown:

  • Fear and Trust Issues:
    • Fear of Losing Control: Leadership concerns often revolve around the fear of losing control, with managers apprehensive that delegating tasks might diminish their grip on project outcomes.[20][21].
    • Lack of Trust in Team Members: A prevalent obstacle in delegation is the lack of trust in team members, where doubts about their competencies or dependability can impede the process.[22].
    • Solution: Build trust through small delegation exercises, gradually increasing in complexity as confidence grows.
  • Clarity and Support Challenges:
    • Insufficient Guidance: Delegating tasks without clear instructions can lead to confusion [20].
    • Lack of Clarity and Feedback: The absence of clear objectives, expectations, and deadlines, coupled with a failure to offer constructive feedback, can significantly disrupt task completion.[22].
    • Solution: Implementing robust feedback loops is key, ensuring detailed briefings and consistent feedback sessions to oversee progress and tackle any arising concerns swiftly.
  • Resource and Recognition Concerns:
    • Inadequate Resources: Not providing the necessary tools or training before delegation can impede success [21].
    • Lack of Recognition: Failing to acknowledge efforts and achievements can demotivate team members [22].
    • Solution: Committing to mentoring initiatives can pay dividends, as investing in team training and acknowledging individual contributions can spur motivation and bolster further professional growth and development.[22].

By confronting these challenges with precise strategies, managers can amplify their leadership effectiveness, especially in scenarios where ADHD is a factor, thus cultivating a more dynamic and committed team.

Tools and Resources to Streamline Task Assignment

In the pursuit of efficient task management, particularly when overseeing teams with ADHD considerations, harnessing the appropriate tools and resources is vital. Here’s a succinct overview of some key management platforms:

  • Project Management and Organization Tools:
    • monday.comThis tool streamlines project management by breaking down complex tasks into clear objectives, subtasks, and milestones, ideal for visualizing progress and delegating specific segments to team members.[10].
    • Microsoft OneNote and SharePointThese platforms offer comprehensive solutions for keeping projects well-organized, ensuring effective communication channels, tracking assignments, and maintaining easily retrievable information, which is indispensable for teams that require structured guidance.[30].
    • Trello and AsanaThese applications are renowned for their visual management systems and task dependency features, respectively, making them essential for the prioritization and decomposition of projects into actionable steps.[30][32].
  • Communication and Feedback Channels:
    • Microsoft Teams and SlackThese services provide platforms for real-time clear communication, file sharing, and instant feedback, which are crucial for maintaining transparency and addressing issues promptly.[30][32].
    • LoomThis tool presents an innovative approach to providing constructive criticism and clarification through shareable videos, which enhances comprehension and expedites the resolution of issues.[34].
  • Task Tracking and Time Management:
    • Talygen and nTaskThese applications offer robust performance monitoring tools and task progress tracking features, ensuring that managers can maintain a vigilant watch on developments and deliver timely feedback, a necessity for teams with ADHD.[10][32].
    • Jetpack Workflow and TaskOnBotTools that empower others are specialized in automating task delegation and tracking within specific workflows or platforms like Slack, streamlining the delegation process to enhance team efficiency.[34][35].

These tools not only aid in task assignment but also embody leadership by fostering a supportive environment for teams, including those with ADHD, through improved organization, communication, and task tracking.


The exploration of the art of delegation, especially in scenarios where ADHD is a factor, reveals the multifaceted nature of the leadership paradox, showcasing the complexity of effective leadership and teamwork.task assignmentUnderstanding the distinction between leadership impact and delegation is crucial, enhancing skills for both leaders and their teams, and leveraging tools to streamline the process. For leaders managing teams with ADHD, these practices are indispensable for boosting team productivity and creating an inclusive environment where every member can thrive.

In conclusion, the journey through the principles and practices of delegation highlights the transformative influence of leadership on team dynamics and project outcomes. The importance of aligning tasks with individual strengths, particularly in ADHD-considerate environments, and the role of comprehensive tools in facilitating this alignment is paramount. As leaders refine their delegation skills, they advance their leadership prowess and empower their teams towards greater efficiency and collaboration.


Q: What are some effective strategies for delegating tasks to employees?
A: Here are 9 tips for managers to delegate effectively:

  • Determine which tasks are suitable for delegation.
  • Match tasks with employees’ strengths and aspirations.
  • Clearly articulate the expected results.
  • Equip your team with the necessary resources and authority.
  • Set up a reliable channel for communication.
  • Be prepared for potential setbacks.
  • Exercise patience throughout the process.
  • Provide feedback and be open to receiving it.

Q: What are the three essential rules to follow when delegating tasks?
A: The three golden rules of delegation are:

  • Recognize the appropriate moment to delegate a task.
  • Select the most suitable individual for the task.
  • Ensure you provide the right level of oversight.

Q: How should I go about delegating responsibilities to a subordinate?
A: When delegating to a subordinate, focus on two main elements:

  • Assign work to team members who already possess relevant skills.
  • Offer opportunities for team members to acquire new skills.
    It’s essential to have a thorough understanding of each team member’s employee strengths and interests before delegating tasks to empower them effectively.

Q: Can you explain the distinction between assigning work and delegating work?
A: The terms ‘assign’ and ‘delegate’ have distinct meanings. To ‘assign’ work is to allocate a specific task, usually within an individual’s job scope, while to ‘delegate’ work is to grant autonomy, entrusting a task that may not align with someone’s preference, a strategy often employed amid staff disagreements over responsibilities.


[1] – https://hbr.org/2012/07/why-arent-you-delegating
[2] – https://northwest.education/insights/careers/how-to-delegate-why-is-delegation-important/
[3] – https://www.bakercommunications.com/archive/apr13/management04013.html
[4] – https://www.eaglesflight.com/resource/the-importance-of-delegation-for-leadership/
[5] – https://www.yourthoughtpartner.com/blog/the-benefits-of-delegation-and-why-most-leaders-under-delegate
[6] – https://hbr.org/2017/10/to-be-a-great-leader-you-have-to-learn-how-to-delegate-well
[7] – https://www.upcounsel.com/difference-between-assignment-and-delegation
[8] – https://www.nso.com/Learning/Artifacts/Articles/Delegating-vs-assigning-What-you-need-to-know
[9] – https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-delegation-assignment-and-entrustment-of-work
[10] – https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-assign-tasks-to-my-employees-and-keep-track-of-their-tasks
[11] – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/empowering-leadership-mastering-art-effective-delegation-riz-joy-hugo
[12] – https://www.projectmanagement.com/articles/869089/6-tips-for-mastering-the-art-of-delegation
[13] – https://www.thoughtleadersllc.com/2014/09/5-keys-to-successfully-allocating-work-across-your-team/
[14] – https://clockify.me/blog/managing-teams/give-assignments/
[15] – https://www.linkedin.com/advice/1/how-can-you-allocate-tasks-effectively-avoid-overwhelming-zun0c
[16] – https://upbase.io/blog/how-to-assign-tasks-to-team-members-effectively/
[17] – https://www.mindtools.com/az6r8a1/the-balm-task-allocation-model
[18] – https://fastercapital.com/content/Mastering-The-Art-Of-Delegation.html
[19] – https://www.robinwaite.com/blog/mastering-the-art-of-delegation-for-business-growth
[20] – https://www.personatalent.com/leadership/the-common-barriers-to-effective-delegation-and-how-to-overcome-them
[21] – https://www.linkedin.com/advice/0/what-common-challenges-barriers-delegation-how
[22] – https://www.linkedin.com/advice/0/what-most-common-challenges-when-delegating-7de1c
[23] – https://joedasilva.ca/2017/01/01/the-five-challenges-of-delegation/
[24] – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/assign-versus-delegate-ann-murdoch
[25] – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mastering-art-delegation-leadership-insights-tips-stacey-kelly-gdssc?trk=article-ssr-frontend-pulse_more-articles_related-content-card
[26] – https://asana.com/resources/how-to-delegate
[27] – https://kissflow.com/project/team/how-to-delegate-tasks-effectively/
[28] – https://www.quora.com/How-can-managers-effectively-delegate-tasks-and-responsibilities-to-team-members
[29] – https://brookerichiebabbage.com/podcast/delegation/
[30] – https://www.ashp.org/-/media/assets/pharmacy-practice/resource-centers/leadership/docs/Delegation-Toolkit.pdf
[31] – https://www.lifehack.org/961018/delegation-tools
[32] – https://www.makeuseof.com/best-tools-tips-delegating-tasks/
[33] – https://forum.freecodecamp.org/t/what-task-delegation-tools-are-popular-at-work/426412
[34] – https://jetpackworkflow.com/blog/delegating-accounting-tasks/
[35] – https://www.quora.com/What-project-or-task-management-software-allows-me-to-delegate-a-task-to-a-group-or-team-rather-than-an-individual

Hal Meyer and the ADD Resource Center specialize in ADHD Coaching services, which are expertly crafted to empower adolescents, adults, couples, and their loved ones to manage ADHD symptoms and achieve professional development. With a wealth of expertise, they offer personalized guidance and steadfast support to help you navigate the path to success. Seize control of your life and unveil your true potential with our specialized coaching services, meticulously tailored to meet your distinctive needs.

Harold Robert Meyer /The ADD Resource Center http://www.addrc.org/ 646/205.8080 03/25/2024

Categories Adults, Case Management, Coaching, Self-ManagementTagsADHD, Adults, intervention, TreatmentThe Role of Brain Insulin in ADHD: Emerging EvidenceADHD Diagnosis and Treatment in Children and Adolescents

Other Articles about Life Skills at addrc.org

Other Articles about ADHD in Adults at addrc.org

Coaching Articles at addrc.org

Harold Robert Meyer /The ADD Resource Center http://www.addrc.org/ 646/205.8080 03/25/2024

/* Clarify tracking https://clarity.microsoft.com/ */