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What is the delegation model and how to use it

7 Tips About How to Delegate Tasks to Your Team

What is the delegation model and how to use it

Your leadership style is situational. Your leadership style depends on the task, the team or individual’s capabilities and knowledge, the time and tools available, the experience of the team members doing similar projects, and the results desired. In another article, the tell, sell, consult, join, and delegate leadership style model was reviewed. This model provides an excellent breakdown of when each style of leadership is likely to be most effective.

As a supervisor, manager, or team leader, you make daily decisions about the appropriate leadership style to employ in each work situation. You want to foster employee involvement and employee empowerment to enable your team members to contribute their best effort at work.

These tips for the successful delegation of authority will help you help your reporting staff members succeed when they are most empowered. And, when they succeed, you succeed. Never let yourself forget the intertwined nature of workplace success.

Leadership Style Tips

Whenever Possible, When Delegating Work, Give the Person a Whole Task to Do

If you can’t give the employee a whole task, make sure that they understand the overall purpose of the project or task that the task you assign them is part of. If possible, connect them to the group that is managing or planning the work. Staff members contribute most effectively when they are aware of the big picture.

Employees Are More Effective Performers When They Feel Part of Something That Is Bigger Than Themselves

By giving the employee the whole and complete picture, you ensure that they feel as if they are a part of the whole initiative. This makes them feel more important in the scheme of things.

People who know the goals, the expectations, and the outcomes you want to achieve make better decisions about their work because they have a context within which they are making decisions.

Make Sure the Staff Person Understands Exactly What You Want Them to Do

Ask questions, watch the work performed, or have the employee give you feedback to make sure that your instructions were understood. No one wants to do the wrong thing or watch their efforts and contribution to fail to make an impact. So, make sure that you and the employee share meaning on the objectives and desired outcomes from each task you delegate.

If You Have a Picture of What a Successful Outcome or Output Will Look Like, Share Your Picture With the Staff Person

You want to make the person right. You don’t want to fool the person to whom you delegate authority for a task, into believing that any outcome will do unless you feel that way. Your employees would rather that you share exactly what you are looking for (if you have a picture in your mind) rather than making them guess. (You might also want to ask yourself, if you do this frequently with employees, whether your explicit picture is disempowering to the person performing the task.)

Identify the Key Points of the Project, or Dates When You Want Feedback About Progress

It is the critical path that provides you with the feedback you need without causing you to micromanage your direct report or team. You need assurance that the delegated task or project is on track.

You also need the opportunity to influence the project’s direction and the team or individual’s decisions. If you designate this critical path from the beginning, your employees are also less likely to feel micromanaged or as if you are watching over their shoulders each step of the way.

Identify the Measurements or the Outcome You Will Use to Determine That the Project Was Successfully Completed

If you identify how you will measure the outcomes and share this with the employees, they will be more likely to succeed. This will make performance development planning more measurable and less subjective, too. It’s a win-win situation.

Determine, in Advance, How You Will Thank and Reward the Staff Person for Their Successful Completion of the Task or Project You Delegated

The recognition reinforces the employee’s positive self-image, sense of accomplishment, and belief that he or she is a key contributor.

Cautions in Using Delegation as a Leadership Style

Delegation can be viewed as dumping by the employee who receives more work to do that is the same as what they are already doing. Employees complain when they share that they are extremely interested in more responsible work and taking on new challenges, and the manager just gives the employee more work to do most of the time.

Employees need delegated work to be more challenging. For example, attending meetings during which they helped have an impact on the direction of a developing product was challenging, exciting, and responsible.

Employees don’t believe that the manager understands the difference though, so they spend most of their time doing more work of a mundane, repetitive nature. This workload, which causes employees to work long hours and weekends, interferes with their ability to take on more responsibility and their family obligations. It is resented over time.

Admittedly, any job has its share of mundane tasks that have to be completed. Some people don’t like filing, and some don’t like billing clients. Some people also don’t like doing the wash or emptying the dishwasher. Therefore, the manager must carefully balance the delegation of more work with the delegation of work requiring more responsibility, authority, and challenge.

The Bottom Line

The successful delegation of authority as a leadership style takes time and energy, but it’s worth the time and energy to help employee involvement and employee empowerment succeed as a leadership style. It’s worth the time and energy to help employees succeed, develop, and meet your expectations. You build the employee’s self-confidence and people who feel successful usually are successful.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

Delegation is an essential managerial skill, but it can be hard to master, especially if you are a hands-on person.

Use these four models to identify easily the tasks you can delegate to other members of your team.

The Urgency/Importance Delegation Model

Use this model to determine whether you should take on a task o delegate it to someone else. Urgent/Important tasks require immediate action and the outcome has a direct impact on your business. Depending on your skillset, you may want to take care of those yourself unless other priorities interfere. The levels of Urgency/Importance decrease gradually, with the last two (Urgent/Not Important, Not urgent not important) being the categories you’ll delegate most often.

  • Urgent/Important
  • Not urgent/Important
  • Urgent/Not important
  • Not urgent/Not important

The Three D’s

When faced with a new task, decide whether you’ll Do it yourself, Delegate it, or Drop it. This way you’ll eliminate the indecisiveness that causes delegation decisions to drag on for days. You can do yourself the tasks that have a direct impact on growth, while delegating to other members of your team strategic tasks that are time consuming and have a long-term impact.

The Six T’s

This model categorizes tasks according to their characteristics so you can identify delegation opportunities.

  • Tiny: Not extremely time-consuming tasks that tend to add up. They’re rarely important or urgent, so you can delegate them (making appointments, updating calendars).
  • Tedious: This is repetitive work that you shouldn’t be doing as a leader (filling spreadsheets, updating documents).
  • Time-consuming: You can delegate them partially, asking someone else to do the initial work and stepping in when the task reaches a critical phase that requires your direction.
  • Teachable: Complex tasks that can be broken down and passed along, and only require you to provide periodic quality checks (drafting presentations, creating reports).
  • Terrible at: Being bad at a certain task is a good reason to delegate it to someone with the right skill set.
  • Time sensitive: These are tasks that must be completed as soon as possible. You can delegate them when they interfere with other more important priorities (imagine a situation when you ask another member of your team to retrieve an object you forgot in a cab, because you have to rush to make a presentation).

The SMART Model

Communicating clearly and establishing realistic goals are two essential aspects of delegating. Use this model to make sure that the outcomes you expect are reasonable.

  • Specific: You must be able to outline precisely the results you expect.
  • Measurable: Determine how to track the progress of the task at hand.
  • Achievable: Does the employee have the right skill set to accomplish the task? Are you providing them with the resources they need?
  • Relevant: Make sure that the task you delegate matches the employee’s skill set and job description.
  • Time-bound: Provide a specific timeframe to accomplish the task.

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What is the delegation model and how to use it

When you lead others, it is important to know that there is an art to delegating. While some leaders think it takes too much of their time and attention to delegate work to their people, there’s a big upside to this process. If done correctly, you will find that your staff are more productive and happier as a result. When your people know you trust them enough to delegate an important task, it boosts their motivation to get the job done.

It is a sign of greatness when a leader has the ability to enable their employees to get things done. One research study showed that 53 percent of business owners believe that they can grow their business by more than 20 percent if they only delegate 10 percent of their workload to someone else. That’s huge.

It is time to begin delegating if you haven’t started already, or refine how you delegate if you have, by following these steps:

1. Always provide feedback.

Make sure to contribute both positive and negative feedback, so the person you’re giving responsibility to will understand what he or she is doing well and how they need to improve. Exceptional performance is more likely to continue if it’s recognized and rewarded. Do follow through when someone performs exceptionally and be generous with promotions, salary increases and bonuses, and sincere and heartfelt thank-yous.

2. Be sure to keep an eye on things.

Monitoring the work of people will both motivate them and help you to catch problems as they arise. An inexperienced team member will need more oversight. More experienced employees can handle greater freedom and self-manage their initiative, ingenuity, and imagination.

3. Be clear about what you want your employees to do.

Make sure employees understand the responsibilities they are assuming and that they accept them. Ask them to confirm their understandings with you.

4. Delegate the right things.

Delegate recurring tasks, detail work, attendance at some meetings, and activities that will be part of team members’ future responsibilities. Reserve for yourself performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, counseling and morale problems, confidential tasks, tasks specifically assigned to you, complex situations, and sensitive situations.

5. Provide guidance when necessary.

If the work veers too far from the planned guidelines, take immediate and decisive corrective action. You’re not doing anyone any favors by stepping back entirely from your assignments. Mutually agree on a plan to return to the targeted goals. If the situation doesn’t improve, end the assignment and move on.

6. Give employees the authority they need to get the job done.

Any delegated task must be accompanied by a delegation of authority–that is, the power and resources to get the job done. Authority may include giving the employee power to spend money, seek assistance from others, or represent the department or company.

7. Have the right attitude about delegating.

Leaders sometimes view planning as a hindrance to getting their best work done, but planning to delegate is an investment in your people, your company’s culture, and in your business. It’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

8. Consider the skills and interests of your people.

When assigning a task, consider each person’s demonstrated skill, interest in the task, and current workload. Know his or her record of success on similar assignments–how they work with others, when they operate best, and how well they work under pressure.

9. Set clear expectations.

Explain both the overall goals of the task along with the standards that will be used to measure results. Make sure the goals are specific, attainable, relevant, and measurable.

Delegation is commonly defined as the shifting of authority and responsibility for particular functions, tasks or decisions from one person (usually a leader or manager) to another. While that is probably the most common understanding of the term, there are those who define the term more narrowly.

But before we talk about what others say delegation is, let’s be clear on what it isn’t.

  • Delegation is not dumping or abdicating personal responsibility. Rather, it is about spreading it out in way that best advances the organization’s short- and/or long-term cause. “Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works too.” Robert Half
  • Delegation does not involve telling people what to do. Rather, it involves explaining the outcomes and results they are expected to achieve. They are then expected to work out the ‘how’ and the steps involved.
  • Delegation isnot the distribution of tasks, as if simply passing along things from a leader’s personal to-do list (also called leadership abdication). Most delegated tasks take some time, planning and effort to complete properly.
  • Delegation does not look the same in every situation. Many factors go into determining what to delegate, when to do so, to whom and how the leader-subordinate relationship will look over the lifetime of the project.
  • Delegation is not about punting away your weaknesses. As a leader, you aren’t going to be able to do every little bit of every project, even when it speaks to your strengths and passion. Of course, there are going to be things that you don’t do as well or enjoy as much as others (just make sure that it’s not a fixed mindset speaking!) But, for the most part, delegation should be viewed as a way of building upon existing strengths and getting things done more quickly and completely.
  • Delegation does not mean you can’t do it all yourself. Instead, it means you’re a strong enough leader that you can identify projects that would be good for others on your team.

A narrower definition of delegation emerged from the work of leadership experts Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey. Blanchard and Hersey coined the term “Situational Leadership” to describe how different situations demand diverse types of engagement between leaders and their people. They offer four scenarios along a continuum of employee experience and expertise.

  1. Directing. This approach is for subordinates who are least experienced in completing the desired task and may suffer from low self-confidence. Leaders in these situations need to do a lot of directing, as in overseeing projects closely and offering regular instructional guidance, to ensure that the team member is clear on what needs to happen and in what way. The leader must also help the subordinate work through any deficits in self-confidence or other barriers to success.
  2. Coaching. Coaching, which involves questioning to create awareness and personal responsibility, is appropriate for subordinates that are a bit more advanced but still need a lot of direction. Through coaching, a leader involves the subordinate more in determining how to do things and helps push things along when the subordinate’s initial enthusiasm for the project invariably starts to wane. At this stage, the leader still decides.
  3. Supporting. Over time, the subordinate becomes more comfortable and takes on added responsibility and leadership. The leader’s role in this sage is to continue to support the subordinate through conversation but allows the subordinate increased decision-making authority.
  4. Delegating. In this fourth and final stage, the subordinate “owns” the project and is largely left alone to achieve the necessary outcome, once the context of the task and goal are discussed.

Notice that in this model, delegating only occurs after the subordinate has been directed and/or supported, often deeply, for a period of time.

This model underscores a fundamental difference between assigning tasks and delegating authority. You assign a task when you say to students, “sweep the classroom floor.” You delegate authority when you say, “keep the classroom clean” and then provide the resources to get the job done. Only after someone demonstrates competence, initiative, and follow through, is it time to delegate authority.

James is a district superintendent. He recently had two key positions he needed to fill. After careful consideration of internal and external candidates, he hired one leader from within the district and one from without. The internal candidate came from a very different role in the district and required much directing. The external candidate arrived with a wealth of related experience to his new job, allowing James to delegate more freely.

Rather than approaching both leaders the same way, James understood that each leader requires something different of him. He spent much of his time supporting the internally promoted leader and with the externally recruited leader, picking his brain for insights that he did not possess. He described this process as having one hand down to support and pull a leader up, while he has one hand up to learn from the other.

Delegation at its core

Regardless of how widely or narrowly one defines the term, delegation is the leader’s decision to:

  1. Lead by providing vision and direction.
  2. Trust others and empowering them to deliver on that trust.
  3. Develop beyond a leaders’ personal capacity by tapping into others’ unique abilities and opinions.
  4. Build capacity in others through training and new experiences.
  5. Replace him/her self with others who can do the same job, freeing them to contribute elsewhere.

Delegation-friendly (and not so friendly) situations

The Situational Leadership Model factors in more than a subordinate’s experience and expertise. Environment also plays a role in determining whether a leader should direct, collaborate with or delegate to a subordinate. Let’s analyze these along the continuum of crisis to stable environments.

  1. Crisis. Leaders who are dealing with crises have neither the time not the bandwidth to work subordinates through the process detailed above. In most cases, the leader will need to assume an authoritarian or directive role in mobilizing others toward desired outcomes. When dealing with very experienced, expert subordinates, a more participative approach is recommended.
  2. Changing/High-growth. In fluid environments that are active but not crisis-ridden, leaders should seek to use a more collaborative approach so long as the subordinate possesses at least moderate levels of capacity and know-how.
  3. Stable. This is the kind of environment in which delegation is most effective.

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What is the delegation model and how to use it

In a prior article, I talked about the power of using the 70% rule when it comes to delegating tasks to your employees. I also discussed how you need to assess the critical nature of an issue – whether it’s below the waterline or not – when it comes to delegating.

But there’s actually another framework that we’ve had great success with in terms of helping leaders and their direct reports get on the same page when it comes to how issues get delegated on a daily basis.

Rather than thinking of delegation as a binary issue-;either you delegate or you don’t-;consider what it might look like on a sliding scale where a leader might delegate more responsibility over time as he or she begins to trust the level of competency of their direct report.

We can actually break this down into five different stages of delegation: Level 1-5.

Actually, there’s a sixth stage level 0 where there is no delegation. This is when a business is run by the “do what I say” rule where there is no authority or decision-making beyond the leader. If you’re reading this, we’ll assume you want to move past this stage.

At Level 1, delegation involves asking a subordinate to take the initial look into an issue or a decision. The goal is for the employee to come to their manager and explain what they learned and what the potential decision options might be. The manager can then choose from those options as they ultimately make the decision.

Level 2 of delegation takes the degree of autonomy further. Here, the employee researches the issue and makes a choice on the course of action. But, the manager still reserves the right to give the go /no-go on that action. There is still an approval process in place.

Level 3 operates more as an opt-out model versus an opt-in version. What I mean by this is that the subordinate makes the call on what the course of action should be-;within a certain time-frame. That might involve, for instance, a case where a manager tells an employee to proceed with their plan unless they hear from their boss in the next 24 hours. If they haven’t heard anything, they are cleared to proceed.

Level 4 takes the degree of delegation up another notch by making the decision retrospective: the manager asked the employee to tell them what they did after the action has already been taken. This is an evolution from an approval mode of delegation to that of informational.

Level 5 is where you have finally reached full delegation. This is where a manager doesn’t even want to know what decision was made or why because they now fully trust the competency of the person they delegated the task to. At this level, you might say to your employee, “take care of it with your own approach and I don’t need to know what you did.”

I understand that it might seem downright scary thinking of moving all the way from Level 0 all the way to Level 5 with your employees. That’s why it’s important to think about it as something you can work together on over time.

I would even encourage you to print out this framework and share it with your employees as a way to explain where you want to go with them and how.

Then, as you run into issues along the way, you can use those as coaching moments to explain how they have contributed to your decision to delegate further or not.

While the goal should always be to reach Level 5 as a way to make sure you as a leader haven’t become a bottleneck, it might be that some employees take longer to get there than others.

In some cases, you might even have to back an employee down a level of delegation until you can agree that they are ready for more responsibility. If you have a high potential employee who is too eager to climb the corporate ladder, for example, you can use the five levels to help them understand how they can gain more autonomy over time by first earning the trust of their manager.

The beauty of this framework is that it gives you the opportunity for leaders and employees to get on the same page and work together toward building a more autonomous and highly productive workforce.

A good manager will always find the means to working efficiently with other junior employees. For the realization of goals and objectives of the organization, it is always important to distinguish roles and responsibilities of each party and to adhere to them accordingly.

However, there are instances when a leader may decide to delegate some of the tasks to other low-level employees. It is not an easy task as it sounds; you need to be strategic, informed and categorical. Here are some of the great ways that you can use for an organization to implement delegation of tasks more successfully;

What is the delegation model and how to use it

Table of Contents

8 Smart Ways to Implement Delegation

1) Select the tasks you want to delegate

There is more than just delegating roles to your juniors. It is necessary to ensure that you choose the particular tasks that you would want to transfer carefully. Remember not all functions can be delegated thus the need for ensuring that you do not assign tasks that are way far much beyond the capability, skills or responsibility of the junior employee. Implement Delegation is a great way to ensure that more tasks get done in less time, and it also builds team capacity.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

2) Grant necessary authority for that task

If you want a task to be done to satisfaction, it is important also to make sure that you delegate the authority necessary for completing it.

Authority in most occasions gives the employee confidence that they need when handling that particular task hence giving you an assurance of delivering better results, which match your expectations without compromising of any situation.

3) Choose the best person to delegate to

As a manager, you have the capacity to tell the areas where each employee working under you is strong at and areas they are weak at. Based on this analysis, you need to ensure that you delegate that particular task to an employee whom you are confident has the best qualities and capabilities of delivering best results.

You also need to monitor the skills of the person you would wish to delegate the role to and find out whether or not they have the ability to deliver. This works best especially if you go for an employee you have carefully worked with and have monitored their progress in the past.

4) Provide clear instructions

If you are willing to implement delegation of roles effectively, you need to provide clear instructions to the employee you want to handle the tasks on your behalf. Clear instructions will not only make work easy for the employee you have selected, but it will also make it possible for them to have a clear understanding of what is supposed to be done and what is not intended to be done. It helps in drawing a line between the do’s and don’ts.

In this case, make sure to feed your employee with all vital information concerning the task by ascertaining that he or she understands all the elements surrounding the assignment.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

5) Show complete trust to those you have delegated tasks to

If you want to get the best out of your employee that you have assigned a role to, make sure that you demonstrate complete trust to them. Believing that they can deliver better work on the basis of their abilities and skills will help build their confidence and eventually produce a remarkable job.

It is inappropriate to believe that you are the only person who can do that particular work as expected. Just because some employees are not involved daily in such tasks does not necessarily imply that they are incapable of doing it perfectly. Therefore, ensure that you demonstrate confidence and conviction that the employee you delegate the work to can deliver.

6) Focus on teaching skills

When you delegate, it does not imply that you are essentially passing off a task that you do not enjoy doing to other employees. Instead, it means that you are allowing your employees to relatively stretch their judgment and skills regarding that task.

In other words, you need to realize that some employees make mistakes in the process of understanding and learning new skills that come with the role. It would, therefore, be appropriate to continue teaching them on how to handle such issues instead of punishing them in whichever way.

7) Come up with a definite timeline and follow-up system

You should ensure that you stipulate practical completion dates for the task immediately you are delegating it. Also, make sure that you include milestones in the timeline to help you in continuous monitoring of the progress without asking unnecessary questions all the time about how far or how they are faring on.

It is only appropriate to allow the employees to do their work without necessarily looking over the shoulder to find out how far they have gone. But at the same time, it is vital to monitor the progress periodically.

8) Provide written and public credit

In the spirit of inspiring loyalty, it is essential to ensure that you acknowledge the employee that you have delegated the roles too. This is important because it helps in fostering great satisfaction for the work done and at the same time used as the basis for providing mentorship and performance appraisals.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

In simple terms, when delegating a task, you should ensure that you let the particular employee know about it in written form and others to know it through stipulated public communication like a memo.


If you want to implement delegation successfully, you ought to know that there are challenges which are bound to arise in the process.

Many junior employees always rise to managerial positions through such initiatives, and thus it should be considered as a significant aspect of an organization. Take it as an excellent opportunity to prevent vacuums within the organization at any given time since it shows that the employee can easily step in the shoes of the manager and deliver better results.

The most important thing nevertheless is to ensure that the task is delivered appropriately, ultimately.

The Delegation Model – Admin Area or Tier0 will host all objects required by the delegation model to operate as mentioned in this design. This is the container holding all the objects needed for domain administration, regardless of the Area/Tier where they belong to. This includes:

  • Built-In Administrator
  • the privileged groups (as Domain Admins or Enterprise Admins)
  • all users/groups used to delegate rights and administrative tasks
  • all service accounts, etc.

This area, meaning OU sub-tree, is effectively Tier0.

All the domain administration and delegation , while having a well-defined and organized structure, will live in this area, managed and maintained by the infrastructure owners . We will achieve this by sub-dividing the objects into functional containers. This area should be as restrictive as possible while maintaining the operational level.


This OU (Delegation Model – Admin Area or Tier0) consolidates and secures all privileged identities while delegating tasks and rights to each of the objects of the domain.
As a good start, the 1st level OU (called in this document Admin OU, being the equivalent of Tier0) has to be secure. We do this by modifying the SACL’s (Security Access Control List) of the OU. Modifying the default inheritance is a must, and the legacy compatibility groups removed. Additionally, the standard operational groups must be removed as well. We need to create other groups for the specific and secured operation of this area.

Once we create and secure the “root”, we must define additional sub-containers for the proper management of the environment. These containers should include Users, Groups, Service Accounts, Management Computers and the redirected User and Computer containers. When deciding the number of sub-containers, we have to keep it as simple as possible, while committing our goals. If our goal is fulfill with a single OU, then adding additional containers will barely help, but will make our operational costs higher and will jeopardize our security.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

Once the root OU exists and secured, we can create all the required sub-OUs. Having enabled inheritance from the custom OU mentioned. Auditing must be enable and implemented for every object within this area. Only Infra Admins have the right to create and delete OUs within the domain.

After the creation of the Sub-OUs, we must create extra groups within is corresponding container. Some of these groups will have the delegated ability to manage objects in this area.

When deciding the number of sub-containers, we have to keep it as simple as possible, while committing our goals. If our goal can be fulfilled with a single OU, then adding additional container will barely help, but will make our operational costs higher and will jeopardize our security.

The root OU of this area will not inherit the default security of the domain. Instead it will be copied and remove Account Operators &Print Operators from the Access Control Lists. Then all the required sub-OU will be created, now having enabled inheritance from the custom OU just mentioned. Auditing must be enabled and implemented for every object within this area. Only Infra Admins have the right to create and delete OUs within the domain.

After the creation of the Sub-OUs, additional groups must be created within is corresponding container. Some of these groups will have the delegated ability to manage objects in this area.

Empowerment with Boundaries and Clarity

What is the delegation model and how to use it

Feb 25, 2015 · 5 min read

I have delegated the packaging and sending of my books.

I delegated all requests and inquiries around licensing.

I delegated brand marketing on my social media accounts.

And I am now delegating the total redesign of my website.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

Organizations are complex systems and research says that such s ystems often work best when control is distributed. This means, authority is pushed into all corners of the organizational network. However, many people prefer not to “lose control”. Therefore, in order to make them feel safe, we must give people the feeling that they have some control over their situation. That’s why a person wanting to delegate work to someone else can benefit from the use of the seven levels of delegation.

1. Tell: You make a decision for others and you may explain your motivation. A discussion about it is neither desired nor assumed.

2. Sell: You make a decision for others but try to convince them that you made the right choice, and you help them feel involved.

3. Consult: You ask for input first, which you take it into consideration before making a decision that respects people’s opinions.

4. Agree: You enter into a discussion with everyone involved, and as a group you reach consensus about the decision.

5. Advise: You will offer others your opinion and hope they listen to your wise words, but it will be their decision, not yours.

6. Inquire: You first leave it to the others to decide, and afterwards, you ask them to convince you of the wisdom of their decision.

7. Delegate: You leave the decision to them and you don’t even want to know about details that would just clutter your brain.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

The 7 Levels of Delegation is a symmetrical model. It works in both directions. Level 2 is similar to level 6, when viewed from the opposite perspective. And level 3, asking for input, is the reverse of level 5, which is about offering input.

The seven levels of delegation should not be applied to individual tasks and deliverables. Instead, they should be applied to key decision areas.

Defining key decision areas is about erecting a fence around self-organization, while increasing and decreasing the delegation level (per key decision area) is about finding the appropriate level of control.

The seven levels of delegation can be used to define how decision-making is delegated from a manager to an individual or a team, from a team or individual to a manager, and between individuals or teams in a peer-to-peer manner.

· A CEO has set Mergers & Acquisitions at delegation level 1, and, therefore, she simply tells all employees in an email about the takeover of another company.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

· A project manager has set Project Management Method at delegation level 2, and therefore he sells the idea of introducing an agile project management framework in the project team.

· Team members have set Vacation Days at level 3, and, therefore, they consult their fellow team members first whenever one of them wants to go on a vacation.

· The facilitator of a workshop has set Topics and Exercises at level 4, and, therefore, she discusses the available options with her class; together, they agree on the details of the program.

· A consultant knows that Key Technologies for his customer is set at level 5, and, therefore he advises his customer about which technologies to use, but he lets the customer make the final call.

· A mother knows that Boyfriends cannot be anything else than level 6, and, therefore, she gently inquires about the name and background of her daughter’s latest object of desire.

· A writer delegates Printing & Binding at level 7 to his professional printer because, as a writer, he has absolutely no clue how to get his words stuck onto the thin slivers of a deceased tree.

Finding the right level of delegation is a balancing act. It depends on a team’s maturity level and the impact of its decisions. Distributed control in an organization is achieved when delegation of authority is pushed as far as possible into the system. However, circumstances may require that you start by telling or selling, gradually increasing the delegation level of team members and widening their territories.

What is the delegation model and how to use it

This article is an excerpt from the free book #Workout, chapter Delegation Boards & Delegation Poker.

Jurgen Appelo is Europe’s most popular leadership author, listed on’s Top 50 Management Experts and 100 Great Leadership Speakers . His latest book Management 3.0 #Workout , full of concrete games, tools, and practices, is available as a FREE pdf, and in paperback, Kindle and ePub versions. Get your copy here:

What is the delegation model and how to use it

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Jurgen Appelo

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Get the Job Done Right with the Right Employee for the Job

When it comes to delegating work, one of the secrets to success is who you choose to delegate to. Delegating to the wrong person is like trying to teach your cat to swim.

The magical thing about people is that we are all different. We have different skills, abilities and interests. What is impossible for some is easy for others. What is mind numbingly dull for some is an interesting challenge for others. Finding someone with the skills and desire to do the difficult job that you don’t want to do is like finding free money. Weaker managers complain that their employees aren’t like them, great managers know how to find strength in diversity.

On the negative side, some of your employees just plain lack the skills, time or interest to do a good job and should be avoided.

Related Content

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  • 5 Delegation mistakes to avoid
  • Delegation Essentials (free, online manager training for your delegation skills)

Matching Tasks to Employees

The following will help you match tasks to employees. Start with the tasks that you have identified in the “How to Identify What to Delegate” section and then work through these criteria to see what employees best match the responsibility.

Four ways to Choose Who to Delegate to

There’s more than one way to make your choice, have a look at these four suggestions and use the best combination that works for you. They are:

Delegate Based on Your Employee

Delegate to Achieve Your Management Objectives

Delegate as a Test

Socialise your Problems

1. Delegate Based on Your Employee

One way of choosing which employee to delegate to, is by looking at the employee’s capabilities and desires:

  • What are their interests and abilities?
  • What are their strengths and unique talents?
  • Has one of your directs perhaps expressed an interest in assisting with this task or project?
  • Which of your directs has indicated a desire to grow and develop their role within the team/ department/ organization?

Note: We all know that some people suit some jobs more than others. But what is it that makes people different and how do you identify what people are naturally suited to a job and what people aren’t?

What is the delegation model and how to use it

This is one of the reasons for One on One meetings with employees because this is where you get to know what your employees strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and desires are.

You can use behaviour models to discover how to be a better boss with the different personality types on your team. This is also a manager skill I call “Using DISC to Manage Diversity” and you can read about this powerful tool over here:

Tip: Improve your delegation manager skills. Is your delegation working for you? Take the Work Delegation Checkup to find out.

2. Delegate to Achieve Your Management Objectives

But it’s not just about what your employee wants because you can also use delegation as a tool to improve performance. Another way of choosing employees is to think about what you are trying to achieve. Consider the following:

  • Higher performers: Your better employees will produce better results. In general if you’re trying to get something important done fast with the minimum fuss, then pick the higher performers
  • Have you got employees who need to be more productive: Giving extra work is a way to increase productivity or use up slack time.
  • Underperforming Employees: Employees not doing well in their jobs are a sign that they are not doing work that they are suited to. Delegation is a method to motivate them plus find alternative work that they are good at.
  • Employees with “Attitude” Problems: Employees who don’t fit in and respond negatively to authority can sometimes be turned around by giving them an important responsibility. When someone complains how something is being done, give them a chance to fix it themselves. Either they will find you a better solution, or come to a better understanding about why things are they way they are. Often “attitude” problems are an indication of an employee in a mismatched role – helping them to find work that is meaningful to them will help them feel like they are in the right job.

Secret Ninja Manager Tricks for the Best Delegation Results

Here are two hacks you can use to quickly get delegation results and figure out who the best person to delegate to is:

1. Delegate as a Test

Delegate the Same Task to More Than One Person at the Same Time:

This is like having a live job interview to figure out who is best person for the job. This minimises the chance of something going wrong because you will get more than one result. And it’s a great way to engage the creativity of your team because everyone does things differently and has different strengths

2. Socialise your Problems

“Socialise” your problem by talking about it in your One on One Meetings:

When I have a problem that I don’t know how to immediately solve, I find that it’s best to talk to people about the problem and what I’m trying to do. It’s good practice to share what you are trying to achieve with your employees because this helps to align your employees to solve the same problems that you want solved. And your employees are close enough to the business to know something about the problem but still different enough to provide a different perspective. When you do this you will also get a better information about your employees: Are they interested in the problem? Do they have skills that you don’t know about? And it’s not unheard of your employees volunteering to help.

Next Steps – Improve Your Delegation Skills With Delegation Training

Delegation is an essential manager skill. The role of the manager isn’t to be a superhero and do everything yourself. Being a better boss means improving your manager skills. Start with improving your own delegation skills with delegation training. Delegation Essentials is a free, online management training course.

Tip: Doing the course will enable you to get a certificate for your resume.


Do you have any comments, questions or tips about choosing who to delegate to? Please share in the comments below.