How Effective Delegation Can Create Great Leaders in Your Practice

From an article by Tracy Dowdy CVPM and published on her website and the Veterinary Team Brief website

A practice manager’s duty is to lead his or her team and ensure the practice consistently performs in line with its mission, vision, and core values. This includes establishing practice and medical protocols, ensuring equipment is maintained, managing inventory, hiring and training team members, ensuring well-kept facilities and landscaping, updating the practice website, overseeing social media, communicating with clients—the list goes on.

All these responsibilities do not mean, however, that the practice manager needs to take on every task him- or herself. Remember, an entire team is working to achieve the practice’s goals.

Although delegating often seems like a good idea, simply assigning a new task does not always solve the issue.

Delegate Effectively

Effective delegation is vital so that managers can focus on the bigger picture. Delegating also creates a team where every member feels empowered to contribute to the practice’s growth and success and allows each individual to take pride in his or her role.

However, although delegating often seems like a good idea, simply assigning a new task does not always solve the issue. Sometimes a team member who seems perfect for a certain role does not have the required skill set, while others may have hidden talents that are not being used. So, always take the time to establish a standard delegation process that considers each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. The process should include not only the necessary steps to take on a new task but also, more importantly, the practice manager’s direction and leadership.

When assigning a new task, first ensure the team member has time to take on the extra responsibility and the task is appropriate; for example, asking a lead technician to be in charge of office equipment maintenance is likely not effective delegation. Next, it is important to set goals, such as the expected outcome, performance standards, and a timeline for completion.

As you set goals, be sure to empower the team member to come up with solutions and ideas on how the new responsibility will be accomplished.


When the team member understands and agrees on what is required, briefly document the details of each goal. Keep it simple—setting goals for many tasks will take only a few minutes. Provide the team member with a copy of the agreement and keep one yourself.It may be time-consuming to complete this step for each task a team member, but it is important time invested in the practice team and will help ensure success.


After a task is delegated, do not let it become a case of “out of sight, out of mind,” with you unavailable for guidance. A great leader helps each team member build confidence and makes him or her feel appreciated, which may involve some hand-holding or giving praise for doing something right, even when the task is not completed.

If a team member is in the practice manager’s office only because he or she did something wrong, why would he or she take on another task? Positive feedback helps team members gain confidence in their actions and decisions in the practice.

Discuss Progress

If a team member does not meet the goal, reevaluate together. Is there something he or she misunderstood? Does the task require more time? Is there a problem the team member cannot solve? Whatever the issue, do not respond with, “I’ll look into it and get back to you,” because you are thinking to yourself, “If I want something done right, I must do it myself.” You do not want your team member to feel incompetent when he or she likely just needs more guidance.Give team members the power to make certain decisions without having to get your approval on every little detail related to delegated tasks.

Create More Leaders

Delegation requires goal setting, positive feedback, and empowerment to make decisions without always having to get a manager’s approval first. Great leaders create more great leaders, not followers. By delegating effectively, you can create great leaders in your practice, one task at a time

You can click here to visit the Veterinary Team Brief website

You can click here to visit Tracy Dowdy's website