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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

What is the Delegation Model and How to Use it?

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What is the Delegation Model and How to Use it?

Something as effective as delegation didn’t just come out of nowhere. It wasn’t that one day someone decided to divide their workload among their team and the term delegation was introduced.

Instead, delegation is based on entire delegation models, and these extensive models are backed by thorough research.

These are tried and tested models that, if you understand well, can be used to improve your delegation technique.

What is the Delegation Model?

The delegation model can be divided into two parts.

The first part of the model is another model – the situational leadership model. This is the part that explains which leadership style should be used as per the nature of your followers.

In the second part, the 5 levels of task delegation are explained. This will allow you to assign jobs and follow them up in a way that ensures time efficiency along with quality results.

The Situational Leadership Model

The situational leadership model is quite extensive.[1] It is a guide towards leaders who can choose between the four suggested leadership styles.[2]

4 Leadership Models

The four leadership styles are:

  • Telling
  • Selling
  • Participating
  • Delegating

Telling

A telling leader is someone who communicates the best, although this communication is only one-way.

Such leaders can shout orders all day long. It is for teams whose members have minimal knowledge, expertise, or skill to fulfill the job at hand.

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Selling

The second type of leadership style is selling.

Do your team members question the reasons behind every order? Well, this style is perfect for you.

You will be selling the task to your team. Selling leaders have to do a lot of explaining so that every team member can get a clear idea of what’s in the leader’s mind.

Participating

Participating leaders maintain authority but, at the same time, let their subordinates make their own decisions. This is ideal for teams where the workers are highly capable of doing the project.

The leader can assist the decision-making for the team members to ensure a smooth workflow.

Delegating

Lastly, there’s delegating leaders. They fully put the task in the hands of their subordinates based on whatever delegation models they prefer. However, they continue to facilitate the process.

Delegating leaders generally take on the role of the other three types of leaders as well. They have to sell the task to certain subordinates, tell to a few, and adopt the participating style for the rest.

Follow Your Followers

As per the situational leadership model, a leader has to adopt a style according to the nature of the team. Unlike other leadership models, this one suggests that you take into account your team and make decisions accordingly.

You might be an amazing seller but that does not guarantee success as a selling leader. However, if your team is easily influenced, it allows you to put your persuasion skills to use.

This strategy increases the chances of acceptance and success as a leader. It isn’t easy. But, it is highly useful, specifically for delegating leaders.

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As leaders, you have the authority to test the skills of your team members.

Now, there are various ways to figure this out. You can observe the behavior of each individual while performing a task, you can learn this as time goes by or you can schedule regular surveys to get this information.

Based on what information you receive, you’ll notice that there are four types of individuals.

The first type is those who have the skill and will power to do whatever they are assigned. Secondly, there are team members who are capable yet they lack motivation. Similarly, the third type of individuals are not skilled but they are highly inspired. Lastly, some team members will neither have the skill not the will power to do what’s assigned.

Task Delegation

If your team is a mix of the four types of workers, which is mostly the case, then delegation will work perfectly.

The second part of delegation gives you the autonomy to vary your leadership style from person to person.

Yes, you still have one leadership style overall. But as for individual delegated tasks, you can adopt different techniques to make sure that everyone works to the best of their ability.

For example, for a team member who is skilled yet lacks the motivation to do the job, you can become a telling leader. A strict order may be the push they need to put their abilities to use.

You can also adopt the participating technique. With a lot of the decision power in their hand, they might feel responsible and that can trigger their productivity.

5 Levels of Delegation

To implement these leadership styles, the delegation model suggests 5 levels of task assignment.

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Beginning from level 5, it is where maximum independence is given to the subordinates. The leader has the mindset that the subordinate will fulfill the assigned task and submit it whenever needed.

Level 1 is the complete opposite. It is the other end of the extreme where the leader has to provide maximum possible assistance. The subordinate needs a lot of facilitation to provide quality output.

The rest of the levels between these two extremes are midways. Level 3, for example, is where both the leader and subordinate put in the effort. On level 4, the leader has to offer more than the subordinate, and similarly, level 2 is where the subordinate puts in more than the leader.

None of these levels are strict. The general rule of thumb is to have two extremes on level 1 and 5 and customize the rest as per the need of the situation.

All leaders are given the autonomy to control what is done on each level regarding their team and organization.

Application

All the aforementioned information is applied simultaneously in a real-life situation. There are a lot of tips and tricks for smart delegation, but the most important one is that you use your evaluation and the 5 levels to make the right decision.

There are 3 possible scenarios.

The first one is where you, as the leader, randomly pick and choose who should do what. You assign tasks without weighing the needs of the task with the skills of the individual. As you might have already guessed, this is the worst kind of delegation.

Another situation is where you have put the first part of the delegation model to use. You’ve identified the weak and strong spots of each subordinate. You now have enough knowledge to figure out which part of the project can be done the best by who. So, you delegate authority and tasks based on this knowledge. However, you simply tell each individual to ‘go and do it’.

The last scenario is ideally the best application. Based on the identified skills, the delegator adopts different leadership styles to promote the best performance out of every subordinate.

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Using Delegation Models in Real Life

Let’s assume you’re the leader of a team of 5. Your team is responsible for managing a social media campaign for your organization. You’ll need a writer, social media manager, some sort of graphic expert, data analyst, and a PR person.

You know that among your team of 5, there is enough expertise to do the project. However, this skill isn’t divided equally. So, person A is an expert writer whereas person B can manage social media and also knows enough about PR. On the other hand, person C has all the mathematical skills but is useless for this project.

That’s not all.

You also notice that person A is the most highly motivated. But, for whatever reason, person B seems to be very low. Person C is completely uninterested. Let’s assume person D and person E have a mediocre level of skills and motivation for this project.

In this case, person A is no issue at all. You ‘tell’ them their task and ask them to bring it back on the due date. That’s level 1 of delegation.

For person B, you need to very ‘participating’. You may also need to ‘sell’ the task to increase the inspiration level of this person. You adopt level 4 of delegation so you ask them to consult you a couple of times before the deadline. This way you can keep a close check to make sure that they are working smoothly.

With person D and E, you can go for level 2 or 3. So these individuals continue to work on their own but there can be one meeting before the deadline to check on their progress. Since they aren’t the most skilled for the job, one meeting will be just enough to keep them on track.

Person C is best left out if possible. Otherwise, level 5 delegation can be used. Continuous assistance can help this person learn a new skill and provide something for the project.

Conclusion

Delegation models are highly useful. You can improve the performance of your team immensely by offering customized delegation and leadership.

Apply this model to your leadership from today to get the best out of your subordinates!

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More Tips on Delegation

Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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