Delegate or Die – Seven Steps to Success

Do you feel stressed and overloaded? Or that your business growth seems stalled? If so, then you may need to brush up your delegation skills! Learning to delegate is critical to successful leadership. You can’t take on more responsibility unless you are willing to delegate to others. But that doesn’t mean it is always easy. If you don’t delegate you may die of exhaustion, but if you don’t do it right your business may seriously suffer.

As entrepreneurs we are accustomed to working on our own, it’s typically how we got our start. However, there’s only a limited amount that you can do on your own no matter how smart you may plan your work day. With a fixed numbers of hours in any given day, we have to learn how to delegate in order to maximize the efficiency of our employees and effectiveness of ourselves as leaders. Being an effective delegator starts with you and setting expectations for our employees. It’s a process.

However, if you’re like many business leaders, you’re already really good at your job, and it may take you less time to do a task yourself than take the extra time to teach another. As a business leader, you’re in demand and the more your business grows the more demands are placed on your time.

This can lead to a real sense of pressure and work overload: you can’t do everything that everyone wants, and this can leave you stressed, unhappy, and feeling that you’re letting people down.

On the positive side, however, you’re being given a tremendous opportunity if you can find a way around this limitation. If you can this pressure as an opportunity, you can begin to delegate select duties to become genuinely more successful!

One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is to learn how to delegate your work to other people. If you do this well, you can quickly build a strong and successful team of people to help you overcome any business challenge.

This is why delegation is such an important skill, and is one that you absolutely have to learn! Delegation isn’t just a simple matter of telling someone else what to do; and there’s a lot of conflicting advice floating around about how to gauge the right approach for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

When I was a young manager I attended a training class hosted by Cox Enterprises. They supplied me with a list of Seven Levels of Delegation that I have used for the last 2 decades to guide my direct reports and ensure my success.  It will provide you with a proven process to empower your employees in a way that also provides peace of mind.  In helping others build critical thinking skills,  you can use this guide to determine how much autonomy you want to give your team members.

Seven Levels of Delegation

1.  Inform Me 

Gather all the relevant facts about the situation, bring them to me and I will decide what to do.

  •  If you fail to bring all the relevant facts, I will teach you how to look for and collect them.
  • If you do not do what I tell you to do the way I tell you to do it, I will continue to manage you at this level.
  • Once you are consistently noticing, gathering and organizing all the relevant facts, and consistently doing what I say, and consistently coming back to me about it . . . I will step you up to level 2.

2.  Recommend to Me

Bring the facts and several alternative solutions to me.

  • Recommend the one you feel is best and tell me why.
  • I will decide next step.
  • When I see you consistently recommending a sound approach that takes into account all facts and considers all the alternatives . . . I will know you know how to problem-solve and make good decisions.  I will then move you to level 3.

3.  Act After My Approval

Bring the best approach to me; don’t act until I say OK.

  • If you act before I give approval, I will bump you back to level 2.
  • If you get approval but do not act, I will bump you back to level 2.
  • Once I see you consistently bringing a good solution, and then taking the initiative to implement it upon getting approval, I will move you to level 4.

4.  Inform Me and Act

Let me know what you’re going to do – an email or voice mail is fine.

  • Go ahead and implement unless I get back to you and say no.
  • Assume its okay to go ahead if you don’t hear from me.
  • If I say no – stop immediately and come to me.  We will discuss it.  If you do not stop – I will bump you back to level 3.
  • If you do not inform me before acting, I will bump you back to level 3.
  • Once I see you consistently bringing and acting on good solutions, keeping me informed, and stopping when I say stop . . . I will move you to level 5.

5.  Act and then Inform Me

Go ahead and handle as you see fit, but come tell me right away what you did.

  • We will probably discuss the nuances and tweak your delivery.

6.  Handle It – Stay Available

Go ahead and handle it as you see fit.

  • When you have time, let me know how it turns out.
  • I will learn from your new approaches and we may discuss the fine points I’ve learned over the years.

7.  Handle It

I’m available if you want to talk about it.  Otherwise you don’t need to interact with me.

  • I will give you public credit for the results.
  • I have confidence you can handle it

Delegation done properly generally means establishing the process of allowing employees to have input and control over their work, and the ability to openly share suggestions and ideas about their work and the organization as a whole. Empowered employees are committed, loyal and conscientious. They are eager to share ideas and can serve as strong ambassadors for their organizations to attract high quality co-workers. So stop doing it all yourself and start delegating — you’ll be glad you did!

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