Delegate More Effectively with the 6 Levels of Delegation

Delegation: dishing out the jobs, assigning people to tasks, entrusting a task to someone else for which you remain accountable. If done regularly and correctly, delegation can be a beneficial process for all concerned. A manager can empower their team, make them feel trusted and valued, and free up their own time to get other jobs done.

But how do you delegate successfully?

When you delegate, try to follow this managerial motto: Eyes on, hands off! What does that mean? Delegate tasks and then just monitor and observe (eyes on), whilst trying not to interfere and just let them get on with it (hands off). Being eyes on tells you when you need to be more hands on, e.g. if you observe someone really struggling, you could offer your assistance.

With some employees, you’ll need to be more hands on, with others you can be more hands off. It’s what we call situational leadership, and the only golden rule is: it depends! A manager needs to be adaptable and flexible, and often the big question is: how much are you prepared to let go?

If we apply this to the delegation process, we can identify a number of levels:

  1. Do what I tell you: a highly directive style, totally hands on, and can be perceived as an aggressive approach. It shouldn’t, and can be done in a polite and respectful way, but it is the one-way flow of instruction, from manager to employee. You say it and they do it, no buts. It is the right style to use in certain situations, e.g. in a crisis or emergency when swift decisive action is needed, or when the deadline is imminent and there’s no time for a discussion. Sometimes also with new starters who know nothing about the job and need instruction, or when you’ve tried every other approach and nothing has worked!
  2. Have a look and tell me what you think. Then I’ll decide: now we’re involving the team more, asking for their thoughts regarding getting the job done. The manager is letting go a bit, but still has the power and will make the final decision about task completion.
  3. Give me recommendations, pros and cons. I’ll let you know the best way forward: the manager is letting go even more, requesting greater input from the team, but is still heavily involved when deciding how the job gets done.
  4. Decide yourself, but wait for my approval: the manager is getting more and more hands off, allowing the team members to make their own decisions about doing the job. However, they still need to check with the boss before proceeding.
  5. Decide and take action. Let me know what you did: a real shift in delegation style here. The team can make their own decisions and get the job done. The manager is no longer consulted beforehand, instead they are informed afterwards.
  6. Decide and take action. There’s no need to check with me: the team is now totally empowered and the manager is completely hands off! Not many managers are happy delegating at level 6! However, if you have a high performing team, who are self-sufficient, autonomous and trustworthy, then why wouldn’t you operate at this level?

Conclusion

When deciding how to delegate, all of the above levels are available to you. Any of the levels 1 to 6 could be the right approach for the best outcome. Consider the situation and the type of job (complex or very straightforward?), who is available to take it on (new starter or very experienced?) and the time available (the deadline is in 5 minutes, or 5 hours, or 5 weeks?) and then make an informed decision.

That way, if anyone ever questions your delegation style, you can justify it with solid reasoning. Happy delegating!

To learn more about delegation take a look at our Introduction to Management course, where we cover the fundamentals of good delegation alongside lots of other great management skills like giving feedback and team building.

How to Build your Resilience Under Pressure

Pressure? What pressure?

We all need a little pressure in our lives, both at work and at home. The right amount motivates us to get things done. But what happens to us if the pressure becomes too great, and we can’t handle it? This is where resilience comes in.

Stress is defined as ‘a situation when the pressure placed upon us exceeds our perceived resources and we feel we can longer cope’. So, we need to be better at managing the everyday pressures – we need to be more resilient.

We can break resilience down into 6 key areas:

A sense of purpose

This is the foundation for all of the other elements. The stronger your sense of purpose, the better equipped you are to handle challenges and obstacles which may spring up. If you can see the target you’re aiming at, you can hit it!  Are you clear about your direction and goals?  You’ve got to believe in something!

A positive mental attitude

How do you stay positive? This is something of a balancing act, between being able to think positively about situations whilst being realistic about what can be achieved.

It is not about naïve optimism, but involves being able to generate positive thoughts and feelings about situations. A positive attitude makes you happier and more resilient, it improves your relationships, and it even increases your chances of success in any endeavour. It also makes you more creative and can help you to make better decisions.

Connecting with others

Sometimes you can’t do it all on your own! Building supportive and caring relationships is essential.  Your interpersonal communication skills can be an important element of your ability to be resilient, based on how you handle difficult situations.

It is also essential to be able to offer appropriate help and support to others and ask for it when needed. Having a support network of colleagues, friends and family is vital – it is easier to bounce back when you know somebody is there for you.

Determination

Let’s get things done! How good are you at seeing things through to completion?  When faced with challenges do you adopt a “can do” approach, and take timely and appropriate action?  How well do you finish the tasks that you have started?  Are you able to keep going in the face of adversity rather than giving up?

Taking control

Control comes from how you think and react to situations, your emotional agility. Do you take responsibility for yourself and your actions? Are you able to recognise the challenges or situations which are beyond your control, and let go of these to focus on the things that you can do something about? Make sure you are devoting your time and energy here, and where you can take control, you do. Anything else is a futile waste.

Looking after yourself

If you cannot build your resilience levels you will find it harder to deal with pressure. You will become stressed and you might begin to suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, or all of the above!

Looking after yourself is essential to help you deal with stress. Is your lifestyle a healthy one? Have you identified your ‘coping networks’ which enable you to deal with stressful situations? Are you able to ‘switch off’ and relax sometimes?

For some people, it means going to the gym after work, or hobbies and other pastimes, or taking the dog for a walk in the countryside, or just talking about the stress with a loved one or colleague: ‘You will not believe the day I’ve just had!’ Book yourself some ‘me time’ and stick to it!

Conclusion

If we’re going to be better at handling pressure, we need to work on our resilience levels. Consider the 6 areas above and evaluate your resilience – if you feel you are lacking in any of them, then these are your areas for development. Ask yourself this: When the going gets tough, do you get going?

If you’re interested in learning to manage your stress and build the practical skills of resilience, take a look at our Personal Resilience training or Stress Management courses.