Delegation is a key management skill. We all know the advantages, so I will not go through them in this article ;-) However, many are now aware of the different levels of autonomy that they can grant to the delegate, and this is what the article about!

Delegation is usually performed in four phases. Phase 1 is to evaluate what task to delegate and to whom. Phase 2 is to actually handover the task. Phase 3 is to support and coach the delegate while performing the task. Finally, Phase 4 is to debrief after the delegation is over.

During the handover phase, it’s really important to be clear on how much autonomy to give to the employee to do the given task and to make sure that they share the same understanding as you.

Autonomy is the level of independence a person has to complete a task. Ross A. Webber defined 8 levels of autonomy that you can give to your employee with level 1 being the least amount of autonomy and level 8 being the most. These levels are differentiated by the level of analysis the delegate provides, who makes the decision, and who takes action.

Level 1: The delegate has no autonomy. Delegate looks into the problem, gathers the information, and gives it to the manager who makes the decision. The manager also takes action.

Level 2: Delegate explores the alternatives available, noting the pros and cons of each option. The delegate presents this analysis to the manager, who decides what to do and takes the action.

Level 3: Delegate explores the options and makes a decision, recommending a course of action to the manager. The manager approves the decision and takes the action.

Level 4: Delegate explores the options and makes the decision about a course of action, but delays implementation until the manager approves it. At that point, the delegate takes the action.

Level 5: Delegate informs the manager of his or her plans and can take action unless the manager says not to (The manager is holding veto power).

Level 6: Delegate takes action and informs the manager after the fact what was done and how it turned out.

Level 7: Delegate takes action and only communicates with the manager if the action was not successful.

Level 8: The delegate has complete autonomy at this highest level. The delegate takes action and does not need to communicate anything to the manager.

Learning about the 8 levels will absolutely change the way you delegate for the better! You will be much more clear with both yourself and your delegate, which means the whole delegation process is better for everyone.