Task assignments are most often a way of getting something done that needs to happen routinely. Delegation, on the other hand, means giving a person responsibility outside their current job with some degree of decision-making authority.

When we teach our module in MSL (Merchant & Support Leadership) on Delegating to Develop, participants are sometimes confused.

“You mean giving someone files to organize or making my travel reservations isn’t delegating?” they say.


Delegating to develop is giving an assignment to someone that has two very specific characteristics:

  1. It links to their personal development plan—something that will stretch them, give them a new challenge, or push them to a level of performance they’ve never done before.
  2. It includes a new level of decision-making authority.

Why the distinction? Because development—offering growth opportunities—is critical for motivating and engaging associates, particularly those who have been in a position for a while. This is also why developing associates is one of the primary roles of every leader.

Assigning tasks isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not delegation that develops. And in fact, if that’s all you’re giving someone, it’s a good way to make them think you don’t trust or value them. Associates that begin to feel that way often end up leaving or “retiring on the job.”

We have a very specific way of teaching managers how to become leaders by thinking more long-term about talent development.

How do you define delegation? And how do you teach it to your managers? We’d love to hear your examples. Share in the comments or tweet us @mohrretail.


About MOHR Retail

For more than 30 years, MOHR Retail has developed the critical people-to-people skills needed to create results in the retail industry—and we’re just getting started. Through innovative classroom and online learning methods, as well as our ongoing national retail research projects, we continue to stay on top of the trends so we can fuel the success of specialty stores, chain stores, outlets, catalogue retailers, department stores, and more. Nowhere does learning meet experience as it does in a MOHR Retail training program.