The five levels of delegation for managers

As we get closer to the end of the academic year many of the master students prepare for the next big step in their life. Meanwhile the recruitment frenzy has begun with companies searching for talents and students looking for traineeships. With this next step in mind it would be a good idea to learn from the experience of other starters. One interesting story I came across was that of the five levels of delegation on Michael Hyatt’s blog. This is an important concept to understand when tasks are delegated to you by project managers or when you find yourself in a management position.

As a leader, whenever you delegate a task, you need to make it clear what level of authority you are conferring to others:

  • Level 1: Do exactly what I have asked you to do. Don’t deviate from myinstructions. I have already researched the options and determined what I want you to do.
  • Level 2: Research the topic and report back. We will discuss it, and then I will make the decision and tell you what I want you to do.

  • Level 3: Research the topic, outline the options, and make a recommendation. Give me the pros and cons of each option, but tell me what you think we should do. If I agree with your decision, I will authorize you to move forward.
  • Level 4: Make a decision and then tell me what you did. I trust you to do the research, make the best decision you can, and then keep me in the loop. I don’t want to be surprised by someone else.
  • Level 5: Make whatever decision you think is best. No need to report back. I trust you completely. I know you will follow through. You have my full support.

The problem is that my mentee thought he was delegating at Level 2. The person on his team assumed he had given him Level 4. The whole problem could have been avoided by clarifying the expectations on the front end. If you’re not sure which level of delegation your boss meant, ask him to clarify.

Always make sure it’s clear to both parties which level of delegation is expected to avoid conflict.

One thought on “The five levels of delegation for managers

  1. IMHO the greatest book regarding this subject is Administrative Behaviour by Herbert Simon. Provided me with lots of insight which are still relevant, even though the first edition is written somewhere around the sixties i believe.