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Levels of delegation

Levels of delegation

Delegation isn’t just a matter of telling someone else what to do. There is a wide range of varying freedom that you can confer on the other person. The more experienced and reliable the other person is, then the more freedom you can give. The more critical the task then the more cautious you need to be about extending a lot of freedom, especially if your job or reputation depends on getting a good result. Take care to choose the most appropriate style for each situation. For each example the statements are simplified for clarity; in reality you would choose a less abrupt style of language, depending on the person and the relationship. At the very least, a “Please” and “Thank-you” would be included in the requests.

It’s important also to ask the other person what level of authority they feel comfortable being given. Why guess? When you ask, you can find out for sure and agree this with the other person. Some people are confident; others less so. It’s your responsibility to agree with them what level is most appropriate, so that the job is done effectively and with minimal unnecessary involvement from you. Involving the other person in agreeing the level of delegated freedom for any particular responsibility is an essential part of the ‘contract’ that you make with them.

These levels of delegation are not an exhaustive list. There are many more shades of grey between these black-and-white examples. Take time to discuss and adapt the agreements and ‘contracts’ that you make with people regarding delegated tasks, responsibility and freedom according to the situation.

Be creative in choosing levels of given responsibility, and always check with the other person that they are comfortable with your chosen level. People are generally capable of doing far more than you imagine.

The rate and extent of responsibility and freedom delegated to people is a fundamental driver of organisational growth and effectiveness, the growth and well-being of your people, and of your own development and advancement.

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