5 Levels of Effective Delegation

Delegation is one of the most important skills for managers to learn and apply. When you delegate tasks to employees, you greatly increase your ability to deliver the results your business depends on to grow and thrive.

Delegation is a skill that is needed no matter what size your business is, as if you are able to delegate effectively it gives you the time to focus on the business strategies.

As Stanford Business School professor Jeffrey Pfeffer put it, “Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off.” And who doesn’t want to take off a day or two every once in a while?

Here are the five levels of delegation–master them, and you (and your people) will be far more effective.

Level 1 Delegation: Assess and Report

For most new or inexperienced employees, the place to begin delegation is at Level 1. If the employee excels and is ready to jump to a higher level right away–great. But if not, then the employee will be in the right place to learn new skills and steadily gain confidence. The heart of Level 1 delegation is the collection of information and assessment of an opportunity, issue, or problem. For example, you could ask employees to assess a looming business issue, culminating in the preparation of a report. It’s up to you to decide if reports should be verbal or in writing. When delegating a task at Level 1:

  • Set expectations with your employee.
  • Clearly define the task.
  • Explain your employee’s role as well as your own, and
  • Discuss deadlines and check-in points

Once reports have been submitted, review them and then decide on any additional actions. Explain your thought process to employees–this will be an investment towards moving them to the decision-making levels.

Level 2 Delegation: Recommend

Once employees successfully demonstrate their skill at Level 1 delegation tasks, move them up to the next level–making recommendations. While employees are still responsible for Level 1 work, they will be expected to also develop possible solutions and recommend–and justify–the best one. Review possible solutions, test the quality of the recommendation, and then make the decision on how to implement it. As with Level 1, you should let employees know what you have decided and how you came to those decisions.

Level 3 Delegation: Develop Action Plan

Remember–the levels of delegation are progressive. By the time employees reach Level 3, they should have successfully mastered the skills required in Levels 1 & 2. Level 3 delegation includes the general recommendations made in Level 2, while adding the development of a specific action plan to implement the recommended solution. When delegating at this level:

  • Clearly define the task
  • Explain their expected role as well as your own, and
  • Discuss deadlines and check-in points.

It’s up to you to define your expectations for the form and substance of the report. Once the plan has been submitted, review it, approve it, and oversee the implementation of the plan. As with the other levels, you should let employees know what you have decided and how you came to that decision. Since the plan will likely involve them in executing the plan, you might consider also delegating some of the implementation tasks–at the appropriate level, of course.

Level 4 Delegation: Make the Decision

At Level 4, you hand over responsibility for decision making to your employee. Before moving employees up to Level 4, you need to be completely satisfied with their results at Level 3. If employees progress to this level too quickly or are not fully up to speed, you may find yourself micromanaging their work, which undermines your good work in delegation. When delegating at this level:

  • Make sure employees understand that they are still responsible for Level 3 work, but that you trust them to make the decision.
  • Make sure they know that they know you are available to coach and support them, but you expect them to act independently.
  • Monitor progress regularly by asking for regular check-ins, reviewing the status of the projects, and warning employees when you sense problems, and
  • Be ready to reward great results.

You should also start thinking about how to use the time you have freed up by successfully delegating a task!

Level 5 Delegation: Full Delegation

Full delegation means just that: It’s time to turn the task over to your employees completely. Before you delegate at Level 5, however, employee decision-making must be consistently sound. When you are ready to completely delegate at this level:

  • Make sure employees understand that you trust them to decide, act and follow-through.
  • Tell them to report back to you with exceptions and unique problems, but otherwise, it’s their task and they are fully accountable for its successful completion, and
  • Be ready to reward great results, including a promotion to employees who reach Level 5 with multiple tasks.

Employees will sometimes make mistakes, and that’s okay, but help your employees learn from them. For those individuals who just don’t cut it, decide if they can make contributions at lower levels, or what other actions you can take.

How can Leaders help Employees find Meaning at Work

Organizations spend considerable resources on corporate values and mission statements, but even the most inspiring of these — from Volvo’s commitment to safety to Facebook’s desire to connect people — tend to fade into the background during the daily bustle of the work day.
What workers really need, to feel engaged in and satisfied by their jobs, is an inner sense of purpose. As Deloitte found in a 2016 study, people feel loyal to companies that support their own career and life ambitions — in other words, what’s meaningful to them. And, although that research focused on millennials, in the decade I’ve spent coaching seasoned executives, I’ve found that it’s a common attitude across generations. No matter one’s level, industry or career, we all need to find a personal sense of meaning in what we do.

Leaders and Managers can foster this inner sense of purpose — what matters right now, in each individual’s life and career — with simple conversation. One technique is action identification theory, which states that there are many levels of description for any action. For example, right now I’m writing this article. At a low level, I’m typing words into a keyboard. At a high level, I’m creating better leaders. When leaders walk employees up this ladder, they can help them find meaning in even the most mundane tasks.
Regular check-ins that use five areas of inquiry are another way to help employees explore and call out their inner purpose.

Ask your employees: 

What are you good at doing?

Which work activities require less effort? What do you take on because you believe you’re the best person to do it? What have you gotten noticed for throughout your career? The idea here is to help people identify their strengths and open possibilities from there.

What do you enjoy?

In a typical workweek, what do you look forward to doing? What do you see on your calendar that energizes you? If you could design your job with no restrictions, how would you spend your time? These questions help people find or rediscover what they love about work.

What feels most useful?

Which work outcomes make you most proud? Which of your tasks are most critical to the team or organization? What are the highest priorities for your life and how does your work fit in? This line of inquiry highlights the inherent value of certain work.

What creates a sense of forward momentum?

What are you learning that you’ll use in the future? What do you envision for yourself next? How’s your work today getting you closer to what you want for yourself? The goal here is to show how today’s work helps them advance toward future goals.

How do you relate to others?

Which working partnerships are best for you? What would an office of your favourite people look like? How does your work enhance your family and social connections? These questions encourage people to think about and foster relationships that make work more meaningful.
It’s not easy to guide others toward purpose, but these strategies can help.

Article from Harvard Business Review

Performance Management – Tips to make these meetings beneficial


Do you carry out performance review? Are you prepared to have these very beneficial meeting?  Here are some tips on how to get started: 

First thing I would recommend is making sure all job descriptions are fit for purpose and relevant for the job. Depending on the size of your organisation, line or departmental managers will play a vital role in instilling a culture of high performance throughout your organisation. Here are a couple of steps that Right Hand HR  would recommend to get your company ready for performance reviews and goal setting for the rest of the year.

  1. Do you currently have a policy in place in relation to performance management? If not this is something we recommend you look at. The policy should demonstrate the company’s commitment to a high performance environment throughout.
  2. Set goals and targets for the company, then each department/team and then for individual staff members. By including each team member in the goal setting task this will get everyone thinking about what they want to achieve not only in terms of the company but also on a personal level. If people have a personal interest they are more likely to work harder to achieve the goals.
  3. Have continuous meetings. Organisations are moving away from, what some have referred to as the bureaucratic annual performance reviews and are having weekly or monthly catch ups to make sure everyone is still working towards the same goal. This seems like a tall order, however if review the goals regularly as part of your 121’s it will ensure everything is kept on track.
  4. Don’t just focus on under performers, your star players will need to be incentivised and motivated as much as an underperformer.
  5. If you have bonuses that are linked to targets, ensure that the bonus rating system clearly outlines the goals and targets that need to be achieved and also explains what proportion of the bonus will be paid depending on different levels of achievement.
  6. Lastly, having the performance meeting; be well prepared, give the individual ample opportunity to talk about how they feel they are getting on in their role, agree on action plans moving forward, agree on timelines and schedule a date for the next meeting there and then.

Having continuous and regular performance meetings with all employees is essential for the growth and sustainability of a company. By having clear targets and goals set in advance of the year ahead you will keep everyone working towards the same goals.

If you would like any support for further advice on managing performance Right Hand HR can provide a full suite of tools for you.  Many of our clients   have told us that they have been invaluable and as a result have found performance management easy to introduce to the workplace.

For more detail you can contact Mary on 086 822 5448.



Listening is more Difficult than you Imagine

Are you listening

Listening is far more difficult, more fatiguing and often more frustrating than talking. But no, you can’t become a better listener by listening harder. And furthermore, even the best listeners have to bite their tongues to stop from reacting, interrupting or verbally identifying with the person talking. But there are a few simple ways to make certain your listening is truly effective.

Effective listeners listen for different levels of meaning.  Organizational listening, even within the interpersonal, is often loaded with potential problems or misunderstanding. Add different levels of hierarchy, work teams with several members, cultural and value differences, struggles for power, competition for scarce resources and the increased use of impersonal communication media to the soup and the possibilities are multiplied. Like musical chairs, it’s a near-perfect set up for misunderstanding. So here are four keys to more effective listening: 

 1.  Avoid and ignore distractions. This doesn’t just mean shutting down your smartphone or closing your web browser. It’s especially important to stop the business of formulating your response to what the other person is saying. Simply focus on what’s being said at the differing levels. Focus, focus, focus.

  1. Parrot and paraphrase.Because most don’t do this, it can make you feel silly. But parroting or paraphrasing not only shows the other person that you’re listening, it encourages them to keep talking by showing that you’re actually listening.
  1. Ask thoughtful questions. Open-ended and implication questions help you see the issues more clearly. It also enables the talker to go deeper into what he or she sees as significant.
  1. Explore other’s listening mistakes.It’s a lot more difficult to learn from our own mistakes than from others. Whenever I’m around a “he said, she said” conversation, I pay close attention to how a person draws conclusions from that experience. I stay curious about their interpretations, sometimes even asking about how they drew their conclusion from what they heard. If you’ve sat through a team meeting, for example, and afterword someone tells you what they heard and the meaning they made from it, you begin to see how that person created meaning and how it (sometimes) differs from you. So I don’t just walk away wondering what planet they’re on or why I missed that. Instead, I pay close attention to their inference creating, learning about my own skills and even my mistakes, from them. Statisticians will tell you that our inference creations are far, far more wrong than correct. Most of us rather automatically think that mistakes were made, but not by us. That dog won’t hunt.

You may think this all sounds somewhat obvious, but watch and see how few use these strategies. Most can’t help thinking that they know why people do (say) what they do (say) or what they’re going to do. But whatever hypothesis or intuition you have, however self-evident it may seem, when you test it against the data, it’s wrong—not every time, but very often.

Originally Posted on http://danerwin.typepad.com/my_weblog/.

HR Nugget – Training – Mentoring – Coaching – What is the difference?

HR Nugget  –  January 2014

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Training – Mentoring – Coaching – What is the difference? 


Simply put, the main difference is in how directive the method is.

Training tells people what to do, it’s a “Here’s how you do it” approach that works well for technical things and hard skills, where there is literally only one right way of doing it, e.g. you follow steps 1 – 24 exactly to assemble the machine or it won’t work!

Mentoring guides and advises, it’s a “Have you tried this way?” approach that works well for people who are new to a job or position and need some guidance to find their way more quickly and painlessly, e.g. A mentor might make some introductions to key people or resources, guide their mentee onto the right track.

Coaching empowers by asking the right questions, it’s a “You know the solution” approach that works well for soft skills and confidence building, where personality plays a big role and what works for one person might not work for another, e.g. a coach might enable the coachee to see things from different perspectives and thus find a solution.

Coaching needs to be done by a professional who has a background in executive coaching, proper training and years of experience, whereas training and mentoring can be done by senior employees for their juniors after a basic “train the trainer” or “introduction to mentoring skills” workshop (we can offer these for you).

If you want more information please contact Mary or Diarmuid.

Right Hand HR in conjunction with DPR Associates  offers a unique approach to coaching.  We address employee engagement and leadership issues and offer training programmes to suit your needs.