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Five Levels of Effective Delegation

If you want to have a successful career, you need to learn; delegation your work, nurture the talent and let things go at the right time for your advancement. I have collated five simple steps to achieve this critical leadership skill.

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organisation.

We all take on many responsibilities in our day to day working life, and it is right to delegate some of the tasks and duties to our subordinates. Being able to delegate appropriately allows you to focus what matters most while developing your teams by giving responsibilities. As much as it sounds easy, it might be totally different in practice. Delegation is critical to leadership skill, and we should all invest our time to develop this skill for the benefit of both our teams and us.

There are a couple of reasons leaders struggle to give responsibilities; either they do not want to lose control of their business, or they fear that their staff members will make mistakes and it will cost them, or in simple, they do not know how to do it properly.

As a leader, whenever you delegate a task, you need to make it clear what level of authority you are conferring on others. It is the responsibility of the leader clarity the level of authority to team members. Failing to do this could confuse both sides. In the absence of clear expectations, they will take whatever action they think best which could breakdown the trust and loss of enthusiasm.

You can see three, five, seven or ten levels of delegation in different sources; I believe depending on the skillset and engagement (trust) level, there are five levels of effective delegation:

Level 1 – Realisation and Observation.

It is more instruction stage; the manager gives clear instructions and no freedom to use any initiatives. It is a controlled stage with close supervision. You telling your subordinates that you have already researched, considered and decided what to do. They have to follow and not deviate from your instructions.

It involves much telling, guiding, directing and establishing a bond between two parties happening at this stage. As an example, “Do not do anything until I instruct you to do so and then do precisely what I say.” In simple terms, you assign the duties to the person without showing the big picture.

“When you delegate tasks, you create followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders.” – Craig Groeshel

Level 2: Collaboration.

It also called learning the ropes, when you give a task, the person should research the topic, gather information, come up with the options and consulting with you. You will discuss it, and then will make the decision and tell them what you want them to do.

It is more teaching stage and involves participating, encouraging, collaborating and committing. As an example, to saying; “Look into this and tell me the situation. I will decide what to do.” In simple terms, you transfer the authority within the task to collaborate with a partial view of the big picture.

Level 3: Evaluation, Research, and Recommend.

The manager shows his/her trust to an individual to assess the situation and options. At this stage, you research the topic, outline the possibilities, and bring your best recommendation. Provide the pros and cons of each option, then advise what you think we should do. If I agree with your decision, I will authorise you to move forward.

Level 4: Decide and Inform.

There is a degree of follow up by the manager at this stage. You are granting the control of the full action due to increased trust between the parties. The individual to make all the decisions necessary and then inform the manager what he/she did. The manager put his/her trust on the individual to do the research, make the best decision they can, and then keep him/her in the loop.

In simple terms, you create responsibility for a specific person by accepting their knowledge and experience, showing your trust and support. They have visibility of full picture.

Level 5: Full Accountability.

The most freedom you can give to another person when you still retain responsibility for the activity. You act like more mentor in this stage rather than a coach. The individual makes whatever decision they think is best, and there is no need at this stage to report back. The manager trusts the individual entirely and shows full support to his/her ability to complete it successfully.

At this stage, the person has enough knowledge and experience the run the show by himself/herself, and you give full responsibility as well as accountability to deliver the entire project. They should create a vision and deliver accordingly.

“The really expert riders of horses let the horse know immediately who is in control, but then guide the horse with loose reins and seldom use the spurs.” – Sandra Day O’Connor

It is the responsibility of the leader clarity the level of authority to team members. Failing to do this could confuse both sides. In the absence of clear expectations, they will take whatever action they think best which could breakdown the trust and loss of enthusiasm.

By adopting the above structure and training your team appropriately will allow you to retain your team. Your team will also see the benefit of working with you, which improve team performance and productivity and ultimately, you will get better results.

Always remember true leaders mentor and pass the baton to the next generation.

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