Assigning a Task Need Not be DifficultOne of the hallmarks of an effective leader is assigning tasks to individuals or groups. He or she will be known as someone you can easily work for or with because there is no ambiguity about what is required. Using the format in this article will ensure that the task is received, understood, and clearly communicated.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You'll Need:

  • You can use a variety of tools to record the task or mission. Pen and paper or email work well. There are specialized software titles as well. The important thing is the process and actual delivery.

Determine the Task. Clearly determine the final desired result when the task is complete. Write a single sentence to state clearly what must happen to successfully complete the task. For example, if you need to chart quarterly sales data you would envision in detail the final chart.

Determine your Conditions. You need to know what things will enhance or limit your subordinates ability to accomplish the task. Here is where you establish the limits, or ground rules. Is there an expense account? Are there specific procedures or paperwork that is required or prohibited?

Set the Standard. Write a concise statement or series of statements that tells your subordinate exactly how the finished task will be measured. Specific details that you can measure are the key requirement. When the standard has been met, you subordinates will know beyond a doubt that the task is properly completed.

Combine each statement into a single paragraph for a simple task. Mission Statements are nothing more than large scale tasks. So, two or three paragraphs might be more appropriate.

For Example. Let's Assume that you need a report from Bob. The task could be written thus:
"Bob, I need you to prepare a written report of your field trip last week for the board of directors. You may check out a laptop, collaborate with Judy from HR, and overtime is authorized. The report will be no more than ten single spaced pages, formatted according to HR's most recent memo, and on my desk ready to be submitted by 8 am on Thursday the ninth."

Notice that the first sentence is the specific task and who it is assigned to. This is eliminating any chance of ambiguity. The second sentence places conditions that will help Bob get it done. The final sentence clearly sets a standard that is measurable and tells him when the task is complete. It, the final sentence, also tells him how long the report must be and reminds him to format it properly.

  • Bob now has a clear task and can get to work on it immediately.
  • And, since you personally assigned the task instead of simply forwarding a memo you got from your boss, Bob understands that he is accountable to you for the tasks success.
  • Don't drive yourself crazy trying to write the perfect task. The first couple of times you issue this kind of task you will get some feedback. Take the feedback and rewrite the task. Reissue the task.
  • Don't depend on a hand written or typed task to be the end of it. Good Leadership requires that you follow up at all times and be available to provide guidance. You can delegate authority but you cannot delegate responsibility.