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Whether you’re a seasoned project manager, a marketing director at a major corporation, or a startup entrepreneur, mastering the levels of delegation is a key to successful management. In this comprehensive guide, we delve deep into the concept of delegation, offering insights on how managers can assign tasks effectively and efficiently to enhance team performance and productivity. Buckle up as we take you through a journey to understand the levels of delegation of power every manager needs.
What is Delegation?
Before diving into the different levels of delegation, let’s establish a baseline understanding of what delegation actually is. Delegation is the process of assigning tasks and responsibilities to others, whether they are other team members or lower-level management. Delegation is an important management skill, often seen as the crux of effective leadership.
Did you know? Harvard Business Review determined that delegation is one of the core components of effective management.
Why Delegation Matters?
Delegation matters for various reasons. Firstly, delegating tasks helps improve task efficiency by ensuring that tasks are handled by individuals best equipped for the job. Secondly, it also helps managers maintain control over their own work, allowing them to focus on strategic, high-impact decisions.
Thirdly, delegation fosters a culture of trust and professional growth as staff members are given opportunities to acquire new skills and specific knowledge.
The Five Levels of Delegation
Understanding the five levels of delegation is crucial for every manager aiming for successful delegation. Each level represents a different degree of control retained by the manager, or in other words, how much power they delegate.
- Level One: Full Control. This level signifies a situation where the manager does not delegate at all. The manager makes the final decision and takes full responsibility for the task.
- Level Two: Seek Advice, But Decide. The manager seeks input from their team members but retains the final decision-making authority. The manager maintains control, but there’s a degree of consultation involved.
- Level Three: Joint Decision Making. Here, the manager involves their team in the decision-making process. They consult before making a final decision, which is typically a collective consensus.
- Level Four: Delegate Decision Making, But Stay Informed. The manager delegates decision making to a team member, but requests regular progress reports to stay informed.
- Level Five: Full Delegation. The manager delegates the entire decision-making process, giving the team member complete authority. The manager only steps in if needed.
Mastering the Art of Delegation: How to Delegate Effectively?
Now that we’ve discussed the levels of delegation, let’s turn our attention to how to delegate effectively. As the Harvard Business Review suggested, effective delegation requires a multi-step approach.
Step 1: Identify the Task
Firstly, you should determine which tasks can and should be delegated. Certain tasks, such as strategic decision making, may not be suitable for delegation, whereas administrative tasks like data entry or detailed research might be perfect candidates.
Step 2: Select the Right Person
Once you’ve identified the task, you need to select the right person for it. This decision should be based on the individual’s skills, experience, workload, and interest in the task.
Step 3: Assign the Task
Next, you’ll need to assign the task. This involves clearly defining the task, outlining desired outcomes, and setting expectations. Make sure to explain the context, so the person understands why the task is important.
Step 4: Provide Support
Providing support is a crucial part of successful delegation. Whether it’s resources, time, or specific knowledge, ensure your team member has what they need to tackle the task correctly. Offering positive feedback and reinforcement can also aid in task completion.
Step 5: Monitor Progress and Provide Feedback
After you’ve assigned the task, you need to keep an eye on progress without micromanaging. Regular progress reports can help ensure the task is on track. Be prepared to offer assistance if necessary, but let your team member act independently as much as possible.
The Seven Levels of Delegation: Going Deeper
For a more nuanced view of delegation, some experts recommend recognizing seven levels of delegation. This model expands on the five-level model to offer even greater flexibility.
- Level One: Command. At this level, you tell someone exactly what to do and how to do it. You control the task entirely.
- Level Two: Obtain Approval. You ask someone to come up with a plan, but you give final approval.
- Level Three: Report Frequently. The individual has the freedom to take action, but must report regularly.
- Level Four: Keep Me Informed. The individual is empowered to take action but should keep you informed about progress and developments.
- Level Five: Reporting at Own Discretion. The individual takes action, and you trust them to report as they deem necessary.
- Level Six: Task Completed, Follow Up. The individual carries out the task and reports back when it’s completed.
- Level Seven: Task Delegation. The task is delegated entirely, and you do not expect a follow-up report.
This model provides more nuanced options for delegating tasks and assigning responsibilities. For example, a marketing director might delegate the task of researching demographic statistics to a marketing assistant, but require frequent updates to ensure the research is on target.
Three Essential Elements of Delegation Every Manager Should Know
Delegation isn’t just about passing off tasks to others. It involves three key elements that managers need to consider:
- Authority: To complete the task, the person needs to have the necessary delegated authority. For instance, if a task involves making decisions that impact the entire marketing department, the delegated authority level should reflect this responsibility.
- Responsibility: Responsibility pertains to the obligation to perform the task. It’s the duty of the assigned individual to ensure the task is completed successfully.
- Accountability: Even after delegating authority and responsibility, the manager is still accountable for the outcomes of the task. If things go wrong, the manager is expected to take the heat.
Four Components of Successful Delegation
To delegate effectively, managers need to focus on these four components:
- Task Selection: Choose the tasks that can be delegated. These can range from administrative tasks to more complex ones, such as creating a marketing strategy.
- Assigning the Task: Once you’ve identified the task, assign it to the right person. Consider the individual’s skills, capabilities, and capacity.
- Providing Direction and Support: Provide clear instructions, necessary resources, and support to your team member to help them perform the task efficiently.
- Monitoring and Feedback: Keep an eye on progress, provide feedback, and adjust the course if necessary.
When to Delegate and When to Avoid Delegating
Knowing when to delegate and when to avoid delegating is a crucial part of effective delegation.
When to Delegate? You should start delegating when you need to free up time for high-priority tasks, when someone else in your team has the necessary skills, or when a team member has a learning opportunity.
When to Avoid Delegating? Avoid delegating when the task is confidential or critical to success. You should also avoid delegating if you can complete the task in the same amount of time it would take to delegate and explain it to someone else.
Overcoming Barriers to Effective Delegation
Many managers struggle with delegation due to various barriers such as fear of losing control, lack of trust in team members, or concern about work quality. However, these barriers can be overcome with a proper understanding and practice of delegation, including the efficient handling of delegated tasks.
- Lack of Trust: Build trust by starting small. Delegate a few small things first and gradually increase the level of delegated responsibility as trust develops.
- Fear of Losing Control: Overcome this fear by learning how to delegate authority appropriately, setting clear expectations, and monitoring progress regularly. Remember, delegation is not abdication.
- Concern About Quality: To ensure quality, invest time in training, providing clear instructions, and offering support.
- Fear of Being Overlooked: If you fear that delegating might make you seem expendable, remember that effective delegation actually showcases your leadership and management skills.
The Role of Communication in Delegation
Communication plays a critical role in the delegation process. Clear and concise communication helps to ensure that the assigned task is understood and carried out as desired. From clearly explaining the task to providing feedback and recognizing the efforts of the team member, each step involves effective communication.
Setting Clear Expectations: When you delegate a task, ensure the team member understands what the task entails and what the desired outcome is.
Maintaining Open Lines of Communication: Encourage your team members to ask questions and seek clarification if they are unsure about any aspect of the task. Regular check-ins can also help you monitor progress and address any issues promptly.
Providing Constructive Feedback: Feedback is an essential part of the delegation process. Whether it’s praising a job well done or offering constructive criticism, your feedback can help the team member improve and feel valued.
Delegation as a Tool for Employee Growth and Development
Aside from improving efficiency, delegation can also serve as a tool for employee growth and development. When you delegate tasks, you free up your time for other tasks and provide opportunities for your team members to develop new skills, gain confidence, and take on more responsibility. ]
You can create a more skilled, versatile, and motivated team by delegating effectively.
Mastering the art of delegation is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing practice, feedback, and adjustment. By understanding the levels of delegation of power and incorporating the strategies we’ve discussed, you can make significant strides toward effective delegation, improving your own productivity and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your team.