Delegation levels

Just found a very good article on delegation by Jurgen Appelo.

Here’s a very concise summary. The main idea is that delegation is not a binary decision where you either delegate or don’t delegate. There are other levels of delegation between those 2 extremes and each of these other levels should be used depending on the context, i.e., the issue to be solved and who will be working on the issue.

The seven levels are:

  1. Tell: You make decisions and announce them to your people. (This is actually not delegation at all.)
  2. Sell: You make decisions, but you try to “sell” your idea to your team. It is delegation by informing your people of your motivation.
  3. Consult: You invite and weigh input from workers. It is delegation by consulting your people before coming to a decision.
  4. Agree: You invite workers to join in a discussion and to reach consensus as a group. Your voice is equal to the others.
  5. Advise: You attempt to influence workers by giving them advice, but you leave it up to them to decide what to do with your opinion.
  6. Inquire: You let the team decide. And afterwards you inquire about their motivations, or you ask that they actively keep you informed.
  7. Delegate: You leave it entirely up to the team to deal with the matter, and you don’t even need to know which decisions they make.

The author made a nice image to illustrate the 7 levels:

The 7 levels of delegation

The 7 levels of delegation

Here’s the author explanation on why he created the 7 levels of delegation:

The Seven Levels of Authority improve upon the four “leadership styles” of Situational Leadership Theory by clearly distinguishing between informing and consulting (as suggested by the RACI matrix). It also adds an extra final level which is not covered in Situational Leadership Theory, because in Agile Management this final level is the ultimate goal.

If you have time, the article is worth the time investment. It gives more details on each level as well as provides examples that show where and how to apply each level.

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