by Phil Manington

Levels of delegation

This section describes the different levels of delegation that you might choose to use. You will need to consider this in conjunction with your assessment of what the situation is and to whom you wish to delegate. The list can also be used as part of a training programme for new members of your team.

Level 1: Information gathering and analysis

You give the person responsibility for collecting information, analysing it if appropriate, and letting you know the results. This might be a daily activity: for example, you might give a junior member of your team responsibility for answering the telephone and taking messages. Or it might be a one-off piece of work: for example, you might ask someone to gather information from customer feedback and analyse it to establish any common themes or patterns.

Level 2: Analysis and options

As well as asking the person to gather and analyse information, you might ask them to investigate options for change, based on their findings. For example, you might ask the team member analysing customer feedback to consider what options there are for making improvements in customer service.

Level 3: Make recommendations

Once you are satisfied that the person can produce a sensible set of options, you can ask them to assess those options, setting out the advantages and disadvantages of each, and then to make a recommendation for action. For example, you might ask the person answering the telephone to look at the way your team deals with customer queries and to recommend how to improve response times.

Once you have agreed the recommendation, you might then authorise the person to implement it.

Level 4: Make decisions and take action

You need to trust your team member to make good decisions, based on the quality of their previous recommendations. Now you can give them the authority to take action without referring to you. For the person answering the phone, this might mean giving them authority to decide how important and urgent the call is and then to assign it to whomever they feel is best equipped to deal with it. For the person analysing customer feedback, you might give them the responsibility for deciding which aspects need individual action and authorise them to take that action.

At this stage, you should ask to be kept informed of the actions they have taken, which allows you to monitor how things are going, so you will quickly find out if anything has gone wrong.

Level 5: Take action and only inform you of problems

Your team member will have demonstrated that they are consistently able to understand issues and have good judgement when making decisions and taking action. You will need to feel completely comfortable that they can get on and complete the delegated task with few problems. You will also need to trust them to recognise potential problems, decide when they need your help and get you involved before things go wrong.

It is likely that you will use this level of delegation when you are developing senior members of your team to be potential successors to you.