Seven Tips to Strengthen Your Delegation Muscle

by Iris Grimm, The Balanced Physician

Delegation is an area of personal and professional management that many physicians don’t feel comfortable with. To succeed as a practicing physician, you must be competent when it comes to clinical delegation. In a busy practice you rely upon your clinical team, and you must effectively delegate authority and responsibility to your supporting staff.

Unfortunately, this effective delegation on the clinical side does not always transfer to other areas of that many don’t recognize this clinical work-sharing as a form of delegation, and they give themselves low grades when it comes to assessing their delegation strengths. The underlying issue for lack of delegation can include the need to control outcomes, a strongly-rooted belief that no one else can do the task well, or the feeling that they are outside of their comfort or knowledge zones.

The truth is delegation enhances success as well as productivity of the physician and the organization, through empowering others to greater performance. So if you are struggling with stress or are constantly bogged down in never-ending tasks and projects, here are 7 tips to strengthen your delegation skills:

Accept that you just can’t do it all.
As a physician and leader, your responsibility is not to personally achieve perfection in every task, but is the organization’s overall success. This larger job requires a change of focus and therefore, a change of habit. Everyone has limits, and while facing a heavy workload, financial constraints and burnout, the pressure of trying to do it all could eventually catch up with you.

Delegation is worth your time investment.
It may seem faster to do everything yourself, especially when faced with adding the task of teaching someone to your busy schedule. Though it takes time and requires patience, energy and focus, once the learning period is over, you can spend less time coaching and assisting others, and use your time for tasks that are your specialty. Additionally, research has shown that effective delegation improves job satisfaction and decreases turnover, thus saving more time.

Get to know your team.
The more you get to know the people you work with, the more you learn about their strengths, motivation and desires. Use that knowledge to leverage their skills. Put the right people on the right tasks, and you will see productivity and effectiveness soar.

Start small by delegating tasks, then move up to delegating responsibilities.
Build your delegation muscle by assigning uncomplicated tasks. Remember, though, true delegation is about empowering people and trusting them with ownership of new responsibilities, thus developing outcomes that are aligned with the organization’s overall vision. The difference is that the employee, not the leader or physician, owns the process of getting the desired result. Therefore as everyone’s confidence grows, so will your willingness to delegate larger responsibilities.

Realize that ‘your way’ is not the ‘only way.’
You have to let go of the fear that the task will not be done “right.” Of course, there is a desired result, but in allowing ownership of responsibility, you must also allow the staff member’s process toward getting the job done. Remember, there are other ways, perhaps even more effective ones, to achieve the outcome.

Keep communication open.
Delegation will only work if you help the other person succeed. Therefore, it is important to provide the necessary resources and support the person with everything they need, including regular and open communication.

Recognize success.
The successful outcome of a task will not only have an impact on patient care and growth of your organization, but it is also the opportunity for someone to shine. Recognize them for their achievements and contribution to the organization. Next, be aware of your personal success at delegation, as well as the time saved for future projects.


Iris Grimm is the creator of the Balanced Physician coaching and training programs designed to improve physicians’ leadership, performance, and work-life balance. She can be reached at 770-428-2334 or at

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