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The Four Keys to Great Delegation

by fatweb

Robyn Pearce

Time management expert

Even in small businesses, great delegation is a vital skill for any business person who wants to expand or increase turnover. However, the problem is, very few have formal training in it.

One of the hardest things to learn when you first become responsible for other staff, is to get out of the way and let your staff get on with the job. Good delegators give their subordinates as much responsibility and authority as they are able to accept but at the same time maintain control.

Paradoxically, they increase their own power by sharing it with others.

A common mistake in delegation is passing work on too quickly and not setting enough relevant inspection points.

Many would-be delegators don’t realise it’s a four-stage process, not a single action. If you don’t work through each phase with your delegatee, at some point you’ll almost certainly have to backtrack.

The four stages of delegation:

1. Directive delegation

Initially a new person needs clear instructions and lots of guidance, not the opportunity to use their initiative. They don’t know enough to need much support, so they won’t yet make many decisions.

Your behaviour therefore needs to be highly directive, rather than supportive. In fact, the level of support is quite low. There will also probably be quite a bit of positive correction and adjustment, depending on the complexity of the task.

2. Coaching-style delegation

They start to understand the process. You encourage them to come with questions; you give plenty of explanations, continue to instruct, have lots of reviews, and also support them in learning and applying new skills and knowledge. You’ll be providing high levels of both direction and support.

3. Supportive delegation

These folk now have a good grip on the process. You’re weaning both yourself and them off lots of ‘telling’ – direction is low. Instead, you mainly give them high support in making their decisions. Your role is to help where needed, review their actions and oversee results as they increase their level of responsibility.

4. High-level delegation

Now you’re free! Your delegatee not only has an excellent understanding of the task, but they have the confidence to get on with the job. They can still come for help if they need it, but that’s a rare occurrence. You can now give only low support and low direction, and only need to review their work occasionally.

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