5 Types of Delegation in Business

One of the many skills necessary to be a great leader in business is the art of delegation. Just like when we started to give our children a little bit of responsibility, there are different stages of delegation.

Bruce Fong shared his ideas of the different levels of delegation which are worth reviewing:

Five levels of delegation:

Level 1: Do exactly what I ask. I have already decided what I want the final outcome to look like. I already researched all the options and know what I want. Just follow my instructions.

Level 2: Gather information. I want you to research the topic and bring back a summary report. We will discuss the information together. Then I will make a decision and tell you what I want you to do next.

Level 3: Make a recommendation. I would like you to research the topic and outline several options. Be prepared to give me the pros and cons of each option. Make a recommendation by telling me what you think we should do. If I agree with your recommendation, I will authorize you to move forward.

Level 4: Make a decision. I trust you to do the research and make the best decision you can. Just keep me in the loop and tell me what you are doing. I don’t want to be surprised at the end.

Level 5: Implement. Make whatever decision you think is best and move forward on your own. I trust you completely to implement your best decision. There is no need to check in with me. You have my full support.

Sometimes it is difficult to know when to delegate and just how much freedom to allow especially with new associates. However, we need to learn to avoid the voice in our head that says “If I want it done right, I’ll have to do it myself.” 

The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try and do everything yourself because you can’t. Anthea Turner

Here’s why:

  • Our solution, process or method of getting to the necessary end result may only be one way to the end goal. A different person may find a new, creative or just plain different way to reach the same conclusion. It doesn’t make one right and the other wrong; they are just different. For new teens learning to drive, I have heard mothers give the advice that they should know more than one way to get to a particular place; school, mall, church, friend’s house. You never know when a road block may deter you from your normal route. The same is true when delegation a project. Allowing others on your team to take on the task may open your eyes to new ways to completing a project and isn’t that a good thing?
  • Their method may not achieve the same results that you would, however, it can be a great learning tool, as well as a wonderful way to instill confidence particularly in a newer associate. Giving them controlled autonomy on a project lets them know you believe in their abilities to succeed and are willing to guide them through the process.
  • When members of your team see you delegating projects it helps to build a team spirit, employee morale and helps to develop a sense of ownership to the overall success of the project, your department or your company.

The First National Bank of Omaha put together a workshop on delegation and one of the first components of their information is a short quiz to help determine where you are on the delegation scale:

Are you delegating enough?

Delegation is the administrative technique in which supervisors give their immediate subordinates the authority to accomplish an assigned task. To determine if you are delegating enough work, ask yourself this question: “Could the company get along without me if I had to be away for three months?”

If you answered yes, then you are doing a great job delegating. If you’re still not sure, try the following quiz to assess if you are delegating enough or effectively.


QUIZ: Are you delegating enough or effectively?

Answer these simple questions to see where you stand.

  1. Do you work extended hours trying to catch up? Yes No
  2. When you delegate an activity, do you merely say “Do it?” Yes No
  3. Do you take work home evenings and weekends? Yes No
  4. Do you postpone long-range projects? Yes No
  5. Do you lack confidence in your subordinates’ abilities? Yes No
  6. Is the work on your staff below your expectations? Yes No
  7. Does your staff have low morale? Yes No
  8. Are all decisions deferred to you from your staff? Yes No
  9. Has your staff stopped presenting their ideas to you? Yes No
  10. Do operations slow down when you’re away? Yes No

If you answer yes to more than five of the questions, you’re not delegating enough!

 How did you do? MindTools offers a really great article that goes into great detail on the art of delegation. Part of the article are 10 Tips for HOW to Delegate:

How Should You Delegate?

Use the following principles to delegate successfully:

  1. Clearly, articulate the desired outcome. Begin with the end in mind and specify the desired results.
  2. Clearly, identify constraints and boundaries. Where are the lines of authority, responsibility and accountability? Should the person:
    • Wait to be told what to do?
    • Ask what to do?
    • Recommend what should be done, and then act?
    • Act, and then report results immediately?
    • Initiate action, and then report periodically?
  3. Where possible, include people in the delegation process. Empower them to decide what tasks are to be delegated to them and when.

To read the entire article and learn the rest of the 10 tips, visit MindTools: Successful Delegation.

As women business leaders we need to continually work on our delegating skills. I once heard this great quote “Delegate everything that isn’t your genius.” And that isn’t limited to work. You can delegate house chores, shopping, child care, home repairs, etc. Review your entire day from the moment you open your eyes until you fall in bed at night. What are you currently doing that you could delegate? Start planning how you can do that! You will find that the extra time you make available will allow you to not only pursue the challenges you want to in your career but will also give you time and energy to spend quality time with your family.

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