Dragan Babic enables design.

Five levels of delegation

This one is not from me, but I found that this list is so well put together that I wanted to share. All credit goes to professor Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford Business school.

First of all, we will all be better off when we get comfortable with delegating. When we do, we will notice a great improvement in our day-to-day, because we've learned to trust others with tasks which are important to us.

The problems begin—as per usual—when we are not clear enough on the boundaries of this trust, and the result which we expect. This is where the five levels of delegation come in really handy.

Level 1: Assess, and report

This is the junior level of delegation where you simply want someone to do the dull work for you (not necessarily because you can't be bothered, but because it's a stepping stone and a learning experience for them).

The expectation here is to collect information, and offer an assessment—or summary if you will—of the issue.

Level 2: Recommend

Graduating from level 1, the next step is to get people to think about the issue and offer their recommendation on how to resolve it.

Level 3: Develop an action plan

Moving on, in addition to tasks from level 1 and 2, level 3 has them thinking in detail about an action plan for the recommended solution. Sort of like “this is how I would do it” situation.

Level 4: Make the decision

OK, now we're playing high stakes. At this level you are leaving the decision about what to do about the issue, to them. You are still present as an advisor, and someone they can turn for advice and help.

Remember, people can't skip levels! In order to be trusted with 4, they need to do the 1, 2, and 3 first.

Level 5: Full delegation

This is it. If you can delegate a task fully, it means that you have full confidence in the person you are delegating to, and you trust that they will know how to make it work.

Congratulations, you have awesome colleagues.


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Dragan Babic is a design consultant enabling creatively challenged organizations to nurture design, and work with design professionals in productive ways.

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