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. It is a guide towards leaders who can choose between the four suggested leadership styles.

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!

More Tips on Delegation

Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

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