In their book Behind Closed Doors Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby published a handy checklist that you can use for delegation of tasks. I have taken the liberty to augment their list with a few questions of my own.
Feel free to use this list whenever you delegate work to someone else.
(Oh, and do read Johanna's and Esther's book!)
Is the risk factor of delegating this work adequately addressed?
Have you considered the question of delegating to individuals or to teams?
Have you considered the best order of delegating this work versus other work?
Is what you are delegating a discrete chunk of work?
Do the people have the skills to do this particular kind of work?
Do the people have the right format for the work products to use?
Do the people have the tools necessary to be successful?
Do the people know what the results should look like?
Have you set the boundary conditions for the work (e.g. budget, time, resources, quality)?
Do the people know when the work is due?
Do the people know what progress looks like?
Do the people know how often to report to you on progress (adhering to interim milestones)?
Is someone available (you or another person) to coach or mentor the people in case they need help?
Every time you delegate work to other people, you should be able to answer “Yes” (or "N/A") to every question. If you have to answer “No” to any of the questions, and you still need to delegate the work, then openly discuss your dilemma, and agree on a compromise. Maybe the right tools have not arrived yet, or the deadline is unknown, or you still have to solve the coaching issue. As long as you talk openly about it, both you and the people you’re delegating the work to can agree on intentions, and commit to solutions and results. Even when circumstances are sometimes less than ideal.