5 types of delegation: What is your style?

Five types of delegation
Leadership Essentials: Types of delegation. Image©theblogrelay.com

Delegation is an essential leadership skill, yet it isn’t easy to manage it. Types of delegation are different ways in which we delegate tasks. These different ways are what we term as ‘delegation styles.’ Knowing your ‘delegation style’ will help you understand the right amount of effort required to delegate any task in the best manner!

Leadership styles are situational and depend on the team, team members’ knowledge, and capabilities. In general, they fall into two categories, namely:

  1. Task-oriented: here, actions are focused on the task. It is one-way communication, where the manager directs the employee to work on specific tasks. It is a goal-oriented style
  2. Relationship oriented: where actions are focused on relationships with your team. It is a two-way communication where the manager supports employees to complete their work. It focuses on the team’s motivation & happiness level

A balance between these types is vital as delegation involves more than merely assigning tasks or redistributing workloads. It involves an engaged team and an assignment of authority

In this article, we will explore five types of delegation styles to help you delegate effectively and get the work done most efficiently. It will help you determine where you fit in your delegation approach

#1. Instructional

Image: Canva-iconsy

The instructional way is the basic delegation style. You directly tell the person what to do. No scope of discussion or decision lies here. It goes by the statement as: ‘This is what you need to do.’ You explain the task, set clear expectations, & inform about the timeline and done!

Upside: It is easier to get the work done in your way. No conflicts happen down the line

Downside: You may overstep sometimes and start micromanaging

Scenarios to apply this style of delegation:

  • When you are delegating for the first time
  • The team member is new
  • The task is straight-forward

#2. Seek Suggestions

Types of delegation - Seek suggestions
Image: Canva-sketchify

In this style, you seek advice from the team member to whom you are delegating the task. You do not pass the direct instruction; instead, ask team members to do related research & produce ideas. As a leader or manager, you then decide if you need to make any adjustments or changes in the already set approach

Upside: Decision making & authority stay with you. Employees also feel involved

Downside: You need an open mind to accept suggestions to your approach

Scenario to apply this style of delegation:

  • When you want to start grooming your team members to be more independent

#3. Decide Together

Decide Together
Image: Canva-sketchify

With this delegation style, analysis and all the related decisions are taken together in a consulting manner. You first explain the problem statement & seek solutions or recommendations from the team member. Then, based on mutual agreements, you decide on what to do precisely and how. This style also assigns authority to the team member as he/she takes part in the discussions and is better aware of the work. Your communication skills need to be on par; clear & on a timely basis

Upside: It encourages collaborative work

Downside: You may over-involve others, which could slow down the execution

Scenarios to apply this style of delegation:

  • When you trust your team
  • Manager to lead delegation where you have confidence in his/her ability to execute

#4. Generate Plan of Action (Bird’s Eye View)

Types of delegation - Generate plan of action
Image: Canva-sketchify

In this style, you are involved in the task from a high-level perspective only. The team member (whom you have chosen to delegate to) is in charge of the decisions and the execution plan. Supporting your team becomes your main task here. This style, you start experiencing the delegation’s real benefits, which gives you time for your actions and an initiative-taking team. If you are delegating at this level, congratulations, as you got the nerve of it & have a great team. If not, don’t worry, keep practicing delegation & you’ll be here soon

Upside: Clear expectations setting & incredible showmanship of teamwork

Downside: It can be challenging to let go. You may sometimes set unrealistic expectations

Scenario to apply this style of delegation:

  • When you are working on multiple projects at the same time

#5. Act Independently

Act independently
Image: Canva-sketchify

Act independently is a delegation style where you hold the greatest trust in your team. For instance: As the CEO of an organization, you decide to invest in cloud technology. You will directly delegate this program to your CTO, for example, explaining your vision. It is then the CTO’s accountability to decide how to execute the plan from start to finish

This style is comparable to the delegation of strategic responsibility

Upside: You delegate the entire work and are concerned from the success or failure perspectives

Downside: Nothing as such as it is necessary at some point in time. But it is risky as it involves your & your company’s reputation

Scenario to apply this style of delegation:

  • When you are grooming a successor
  • When you are working on large programs

These are five types of delegation. You may delegate in any style depending on the work and your authority level. None of these styles competes, but they certainly provide you insights on how you can enhance your delegation skills

Knowing yourself & your team members make it easier to share strengths while managing the downsides to achieve the set goals

Once you get comfortable around delegation, you should positively attempt to switch your style to realize maximum delegation potential. You cannot keep assigning responsibilities to your team based on your knowledge as you do have to provide them with opportunities to grow their skills & step out of their comfort zones!

Keep delegating!

Want to improve your delegation skills or conduct a session for your team?

Download this delegation tracker template to practice delegation with mind maps or excel. Contact me for training or one-on-one discussions

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot is the owner of this blog. She works as a Management Consultant with businesses to set up processes, and coordinate as Project Manager to help develop IT solutions. Travelling, reading, and shopping are her core interest besides work. Surbhi is available for consultant projects full-time, part-time, or remote work

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