The secret to delegating effectively lies in four components, each of which must be fulfilled to have successful outcomes. For today's leader, learning to delegate is crucial to expanding your reach and meeting the huge demands on your time. Success will remain elusive if you don't understand the art and science of delegation. This article is more on the science.
You must be a committed speaker
How many times have you thought you delegated well and the message got lost when you dissected the failure? When you spoke to your associate, were you rushing around and running out the door for the next appointment, multi-tasking and checking email, or texting in a meeting? The speaker must be focused on the listener and your desk must be clear of everything else in order to get the message across effectively. If it is a high-risk or high-reward issue, you need to stop everything else and FOCUS to be a committed speaker.
You must have a committed listener
Can the receiver focus on what you're asking? Are they rushing around and not really hearing what you ask? Another issue here beyond the ability to focus - are they competent, trustworthy and capable to pull off the task or assignment?
Think of these 3 elements when you choose an individual to whom you will delegate. How many times have you delegated something to someone who is unreliable or doesn't have the skill set to pull it off?
Communicate time elements in the request
Assuming you've satisfied the above, be sure you communicate timeliness and completion dates. My suggestion: If it's not urgent, then tell the listener so, BUT still give them a check-in date for progress or the end-date for completion. BTW, put it on your calendar to check in and follow up. The follow-up introduces accountability - both yours and theirs.
Communicate the conditions of satisfaction
What is the outcome? What are the deliverables? What does success look like? My experience has taught me to do your best, paint a picture of the outcome, then ask the listener to tell you what it looks like in their words. The complexity of the assignment to be delegated will dictate how much dialogue should occur in this final step. Here too, the higher the risk or reward for the issue delegated, the more thoroughly you need to discuss, and then agree upon the expectations for success.