Last updated July 4, 2024

Delegation skills activities and exercises

If you are a trainer or facilitator who is running a workshop on delegation skills for managers, here are 12 delegation skills activities and exercises that you will love.

Most of these delegation skills activities can be adapted for teaching virtually by using online videoconferencing software and a virtual whiteboard or other collaboration tools.

Delegation Skills Activities for Workshops

Here’s the 12 delegation exercises and activities I promised you:

1. What, Why, Who, When and How of Delegating

Delegation questions

Purpose of the Activity: This is one of those delegation skills activities that encourages participants to consider all the aspects of delegation.

So, participants are encouraged to ask themselves why they may want to delegate, what (i.e., which tasks), who the person/s they want to delegate to is/are, when it is a good time to delegate and how they want to go about delegating.

How to Run the Activity: Ask participants to make a list of tasks they do as a manager.

Then, ask them to look at these tasks and ask themselves the following questions:

  • What can I delegate out of these tasks (i.e., is there something that does not necessarily need to be done by me)?
  • Why should I delegate these tasks?
  • Who can I delegate each of these tasks to?
  • When should I delegate tasks?
  • How should I delegate them? (Encourage your participants to think, for example, about how they would communicate, what support they could provide and how they would ensure accountability)

What You Will Need:

  • Handouts with the six questions
  • Pens and paper

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • Which question did you find the most challenging to answer and why?
  • How might these questions help you in making delegation more effective?

2. Excuse Defeater

Purpose of the Activity: This delegation skills exercise focuses on common excuses that managers tend to use to avoid delegating.

The aim is to help managers become aware of these excuses and find ways to address them.

How to Run the Activity: Write a list of common excuses for not delegating.

Ask your participants to work in pairs or small groups of up to 4 people and come up with counterarguments to defeat these excuses. Give them a set time for this, such as 15 minutes.

After the 15 minutes are up, ask each pair or group to share their ideas with the wider group.

Examples of Possible Excuses:

  • “I can do it better myself”
  • “It takes too long to delegate, it won’t take too long if I do it myself”
  • “I don’t think other people will do it right”
  • “I enjoy doing this task”
  • “I don’t want to overburden my team”

What You Will Need:

  • A list of common excuses for not delegating
  • Flip charts or whiteboards
  • Markers

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • Which excuses did you find most difficult to counter and why?
  • How can you consistently apply these counterarguments in your work?
  • What benefits could you reap by overcoming these excuses?

3. Delegation Practice

Purpose of the Activity: This is one of those delegation skills activities that focuses on practising delegation in a safe setting, such as a workshop.

This is a role-playing exercise that involves participants playing in turn the roles of the manager who delegates a task and of the employee who is assigned a task.

Each participant receives feedback on how well they delegated, including on how clearly they communicated and how they managed to give authority and assign responsibility.

How to Run the Activity:

Ask participants to work in groups of three, with one person playing the part of the manager who delegates a task to the team member, one being the team member who receives the instructions and one acting as the observer.

After the exercise, the observer gives feedback on the clarity of the delegation. Swap roles and repeat.

What You Will Need:

  • Sample tasks for delegation
  • Feedback forms or guidelines

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • How did it feel to delegate/receive the task?
  • What aspects of delegation were well handled, and what could be improved?
  • How important was trust and clarity in this exercise?

4. Delegation Map

Delegation mapping

Purpose of the Activity: This is one of those delegation skills activities and exercises that involves self-reflection on the part of the participants.

This is a visual activity that uses a mapping template to help managers visualise which tasks they delegate, how often and to whom.

This process can help participants get a clear overview of their delegation habits and identify potential areas for improvement in their delegation process.

How to Run the Activity: Provide each participant with a delegation map template. This can be a grid, which includes headings such as tasks I usually delegate, the frequency, why I delegate each task and to whom I delegate it.

Ask them to fill in the tasks they delegate and to whom, noting the frequency and nature of these tasks.

After each participant has completed their map, ask them to pair up to have a brief discussion in pairs about patterns and potential gaps in their delegation habits.

Conclude the activity by asking each pair to share their thoughts with the rest of the participants.

What You Will Need:

  • Blank delegation map templates
  • Pens and markers

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • Were there any surprises in your delegation map?
  • How balanced is your delegation across your team?
  • What changes can you make to improve your delegation strategy?

5. Delegation Skills Self-Assessment

Purpose of the Activity: This is another one of those delegation skills activities that require self-reflection as participants answer questions about their own delegation skills.

How to Run the Activity: Hand your participants a questionnaire based on the key areas of effective delegation.

Allow participants to answer their questions and reflect on their own.

Then, ask participants to share their ideas in pairs or small groups, before ending with a full class discussion.

What You Will Need:

  • Self-assessment questionnaires
  • Pens

Examples of Questions for the Questionnaire: Below are some sample questions you can use for the self-assessment questionnaire.

  • How confident are you in giving your team members the authority to make decisions on delegated tasks?
  • How do you provide the necessary resources and information to your employees when you delegate a task to them?
  • How frequently do you establish clear expectations and objectives for the jobs you delegate?
  • How do you manage situations when delegated tasks do not meet expectations?
  • How do you make sure that the team member you delegate to understands their responsibilities?
  • How often do you follow up with your team members on the progress of delegated tasks?
  • How clear and specific are you when communicating the details of a task?
  • How do you establish and sustain trust with your staff?
  • What criteria do you use to decide if you should delegate a task?

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • Which areas of delegation do you excel in, and which need improvement?
  • What can you do to develop your delegation skills?

This is arguably one of the best delegation skills course training games in that it really helps participants to understand clearly what delegation is.

6. Describe How to Build Something with Your Back to the Team

Purpose of the Activity: This activity involves participants giving directions to a team on how to build something without seeing what the team are doing. As such, the focus of this activity is on trust and good communication.

This exercise is quite active and hands-on, so it is good as an energizer to get people moving during a training session.

How to Run the Activity: One participant gives instructions to the rest of the team on how to build something while turning their back on them, so the person giving directions cannot see what the others are doing.

For this activity, you can use any building materials such as Lego bricks, cardboard and sellotape, or any other materials you can think of that you can easily acquire.

The team follows the instructions to build the object.

At the end of the activity, compare the final structure with the intended outcome and discuss.

What You Will Need:

  • Building materials (e.g., Legos)
  • A pre-built model for reference
  • A timer if you give the participants a set time

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • How clear were the instructions provided?
  • What challenges did the team face in following the directions?
  • How can you ensure clear communication in real-life delegation scenarios?

7. Delegate Your Personal Introduction Icebreaker

Purpose of the Activity: This exercise is a good icebreaker for a session on delegation skills.

This is one of those delegation skills activities that help participants practice delegating personal tasks and build trust among team members.

How to Run the Activity: Each participant writes a brief introduction about themselves.

Split the group into pairs and let pairs have a short discussion, so that each person in the pair delegates to the other person the task of introducing them.

Each person in the pair introduces the other participant to the rest of the group, based on the instructions received.

What You Will Need: Pens and paper.

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • How did it feel to delegate your introduction to someone else?
  • Did the introductions maintain accuracy and clarity?
  • How can this exercise apply to delegating more complex tasks?

8. Robot Controller

Purpose of the Activity: This fun activity emphasizes the importance of precise instructions and accountability in delegation by having one participant act as a robot and another as the controller.

This is one of the delegation skills activities that centres on trust and communication abilities.

How to Run the Activity: Participants do this activity in pairs and you can set up a competition between pairs to see which team of two completes the task faster.

One participant in each pair (the one who plays the robot) is blindfolded.

The other person in the team acts as the controller and gives clear instructions to the robot, so that the robot can successfully navigate a simple obstacle course.

The controller has to give step-by-step detailed instructions, while the robot has to follow them exactly.

What You Will Need:

  • Blindfolds
  • Simple obstacle course setup

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • How precise were the instructions given?
  • What challenges did the robot and controller face?
  • How does this relate to ensuring clarity and support in delegation?

>> See the Delegation Skills Training Course Materials

9. Delegation Puzzle

Purpose of the Activity: This delegation skills exercise highlights the importance of planning in delegation. It does so by having participants delegate different aspects of the puzzle to assemble it together as efficiently as possible.

How to Run the Activity: First, split your participants into groups of 4 people per team and ask each team to choose one person as the leader.

Then, give a large puzzle to each team but only the team leader will be shown the full picture of the puzzle.

The other team members will not be able to see the full picture and will have to rely on the leader’s knowledge to assemble the puzzle.

Ask the leader to assign a task to each member of their team. For example, one person will have to gather and put together the edge pieces, another one will be assigned to sorting out the colours and so on.

The team leader will have to strategise and plan which tasks to delegate and to whom.

The first team to finish the puzzle is the winner.

What You Will Need: Large puzzles.

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • How effective was your team’s delegation plan?
  • What improvements could be made in future planning?
  • How does planning contribute to successful delegation?

10. Pros and Cons of Delegation

Purpose of the Activity: Managers are often unsure whether they should delegate a task or not, based on the possible pros and cons of delegating and fear of potential pitfalls.

This delegation skills exercise is designed to help participants compare the positives against the possible negatives of delegation and think of potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.

As part of the activity, you will provide your participants with scenarios for them to analyse and then discuss the broader impacts of effective and ineffective delegation.

How to Run the Activity: After dividing your participants into small groups, allocate one scenario per group.

Ask each group to list the pros and cons of delegation for their scenario, the potential problems that might arise and why, and how to avoid them. Allocate a set time for this (e.g. 15 minutes).

At the end of the small group discussion, ask each group to present their findings to the rest of the class.

What You Will Need:

  • Printed scenarios involving delegation
  • Flip charts or whiteboards
  • Markers

Example Scenario: Delegating a Marketing Campaign

Jill is a marketing manager in a medium-sized company who is in charge of organizing a marketing campaign for a new product.

She leads a sizeable team and the project involves a lot of work, so she realises that the best thing to do is to break down the project into tasks and delegate these to her team members.

So, she assigns Jim to social media, Ken to email marketing, Fiona to promotional videos and Rochelle to oversee the budget.

Jill gives each team member the authority to make decisions within their areas and makes sure they have access to necessary resources.

Jill trusts her team and does not want to micromanage them. So, she communicates the goals of the project (without going into detail), but she fails to establish clear accountability measures or regular check-ins. In addition, she does not provide much support.

Possible Pros:

  • The team members feel empowered and can be creative in the way they work
  • Allocating different tasks based on each team member’s expertise helps the team be more effective and efficient in completing their task
  • The team’s morale is boosted and they feel trusted

Possible Cons:

  • Without clear accountability, some tasks may fall behind or be overlooked
  • The lack of detailed instructions and regular check-ins may cause confusion and a lack of alignment between the different areas of the campaign
  • Without support, team members may feel isolated if they come across difficulties

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • What were some common pros and cons across different scenarios?
  • How can managers minimize the cons while maximizing the pros?
  • What role does communication play in these scenarios?

11. Draw a Concept

Purpose of the Activity: This delegation skills exercise’s aim is to show the importance of clear communication and precise instructions in delegation.

It is an activity that is fun and can be good as an energizer.

How to Run the Activity: Have one participant at a time think about a concept and stand up in front of the class to try and explain the concept with gestures only.

The other participants will have to draw the concept based on the communication they receive.

Give a time limit for participants to draw.

Have participants take turns explaining their concepts to the rest of the group.

What You Will Need:

  • Blank paper and pens for drawing
  • A timer

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • What challenges did you encounter when describing with gestures or drawing the image?
  • How could the instructions have been clearer?
  • In what ways can clear communication improve delegation outcomes?
  • What strategies can you use to enhance your instruction-giving skills in future delegation tasks?

12. Delegation Grid

Purpose of the Activity: In deciding which tasks to delegate, to whom and how, it is important to consider the level of support you will need to provide.

In this activity, participants will use a grid, to figure out which tasks to delegate and how.

How to Run the Activity: Ask participants to list all their current tasks and responsibilities on individual sticky notes or pieces of paper.

Ask participants to categorise each of these tasks on a grid based on the following criteria:

  • Can other people do it with minimal support from you?
  • Can other people do it but they will need substantial support?
  • Can it be done only by you but other people can help you?
  • Can it be done by you and you only? (I.e., nobody else in the team can help)

What You Will Need:

  • Sticky notes
  • Pens or felt-tip pens
  • Grid templates (can be drawn on a flip chart or printed out)
  • Flip charts or whiteboards for group discussions

Possible Follow-Up Discussion Prompts:

  • How did categorizing tasks help you identify what can be delegated and how?
  • Were there any tasks you initially thought couldn’t be delegated but later realized could be?
  • How can you apply the delegation grid approach in real-time work situations?

Benefits of Delegation Skills Activities

Delegating is such an important skill for managers to have as it can save them time, and empower and engage their team members if done effectively.

Using delegation skills activities as you train managers can help them grasp the most important concepts of delegation skills in a concrete way.

In addition, these activities can guide and inspire participants to put these ideas into practice when they go back to work after the training session.

Delegation skills activities are not only useful for staff to develop their delegation skills, but can also support them in developing other skills such as:

  • Inspiring and motivating their teams
  • Better manage their time
  • Avoid burnout and increase resilience
  • Be more effective communicators

Training Materials

If you enjoyed these delegation skills activities exercises, you might also be interested in the training materials that we have for teaching delegation skills.

Delegation skills management
>> Delegation Skills Trainers Course Materials
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
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