Delegation: basic principles and methods

Delegation: basic principles and methods

Delegation is the transfer or redistribution of a task or part of a function within the personnel hierarchy of an organization or enterprise.

Essentially, any work process consists of delegation of authority – after all, this is the work of a well-coordinated team. At the same time, the success of the company will depend on the correct understanding and accuracy of implementation of the basic principles and methods. Incorrect or limited delegation of authority has an extremely negative impact on the work process as a whole and on the general atmosphere in the team.

At the same time, the level of success falls equally both with unscrupulous management, who do not want to take an active and sensitive part in the work, transferring the entire volume of work to structural units and does not control implementation, and with an overly cautious and responsible boss, who prefers to solve problems individually.

If in the first case there is lack of professionalism, then the second option is often found among first-class specialists who are well acquainted with all the stages and intricacies of the work process, but do not have the basic skill of a good manager, which is the ability to correctly set tasks and achieve their effective and timely completion.

Making strategic decisions – advice from a reputable scientist
Making strategic decisions – advice from a reputable scientist
World expert on the psychology of success, Brian Tracy, elegantly defines delegation when he says: “The art of management is getting results through the efforts of other people.” He also gives brilliant advice to those who are still captivated by fears of delegation – set a task for the employee and… leave him alone. Excessive control not only demotivates subordinates, but also creates fertile ground for placing the entire burden of responsibility on the boss, leading to stagnation and conscious refusal of career and personal growth.

Advice: It is necessary to remember what distinguishes a manager from a highly qualified specialist. The first may not have full awareness of the technical side of the process, but must be able to set tasks, determine the main methods for their implementation and bear full responsibility for the result. Otherwise, even the highest qualifications do not justify an unlawfully held position.

Basic principles of delegation

There are several key principles of delegation of authority, by applying which the manager will receive a healthy atmosphere and a properly organized work process.


Clear task setting

The performer must be provided with the entirety of the upcoming task, including its main purpose and additional information. At the same time, it is important to set a framework for responsibility – although the main burden for the consequences falls on the manager, the performer must be made aware of the consequences in case of failure to meet or miss deadlines. It would not be amiss to outline the general state of affairs – the level of importance, the degree of risks in the event of a bad or insufficient result, prospects for the company. This is necessary for sufficient motivation of the performer.

Choice of level and measure of responsibility

There are five levels of control and degrees of freedom and responsibility that help in setting goals. When redistributing a task, it is necessary to correctly assess at what level the performer is (employee, group or structural unit).

  • Level 1 – strict obedience and strict adherence to instructions, enhanced control over both the execution process and time frames (suitable for routine work, office work, technical work).
  • Level 2 – employees are given the right to choose the necessary execution methods, but such freedom is limited by mandatory approval of them with management (used in the case when a specialist is better familiar with the technical details and is able to suggest the shortest path to solving the problem ).
  • Level 3 – the briefing is advisory, not mandatory, in nature, but employees are required to provide a report at the end of each stage of the task (the performer has sufficient competence or experience in performing similar tasks).
  • Level 4 – the employee is capable of preparing and completing the entire cycle of the assigned task; he has the right to choose methods and methods for solving it independently, but is obliged to report to the manager about the stages of implementation (usually used when delegating to heads of departments, departments and groups that are strictly limited by time frames and are fully responsible for the result).
  • Level 5 – unlimited freedom of action in solving a problem, no time frames or limits – often used in work related to creativity or in the absence of risks.

Discussion and opportunity for feedback for clarification and reporting

It is necessary to ensure that the employee correctly understands the goals and priorities, and understands the level of responsibility. At the same time, it is necessary to provide the opportunity to contact the manager if difficulties arise or obstacles to achieving the goal.

Distribution of powers according to qualities, job responsibilities and qualifications

Since delegation of powers does not involve their transfer from person to person, but distribution among positions, with proper organization of work this principle is based on job descriptions. But the human factor is no less important; current circumstances must also be taken into account: workload level, personal qualities of subordinates, permission to access confidential information.

Opportunity to attract junior management

Turning to specific specialists and performers often brings good results. Such personnel are faced with the nuances of the work process every day; assigning tasks directly to junior managers saves time and helps them cope with the task more efficiently through non-standard or specific solutions.

Enterprise strategy: formulation and implementation
Enterprise strategy: formulation and implementation

Openness of the work process

Each employee must be aware of the overall task, understand the hierarchy of its implementation, and be able to easily contact process participants to obtain the necessary information or collaborate on a specific project.

Prohibition on reverse delegation of authority or transfer through the official hierarchy without approval

The head of the department has the right to distribute the stages of the project between specialists, but should not transfer the full implementation of tasks to his subordinates or related departments, or refuse to accept authority, taking advantage of the responsibility of his manager.

Basic methods of delegation in a company

  • General statement of tasks – used when distributing tasks to structural divisions of the enterprise.
  • Detailed instructions – used when the employee is insufficiently qualified (non-standard assignment or training of trainees.
  • Parallel assignment to several executors – such simultaneous transfer of one project to several executors can be effective when there is a need for competition and the ability to choose the best result or strategy.
  • Parallel distribution among structural units – suitable for dividing a common task into blocks and stages that require specialists of different levels and qualifications.

Types of powers and centralization of management

Powers are divided into 2 types (according to the “matryoshka” and “herringbone” principles):

  1. Centralized (without transfer of responsibility) – they are characterized by regulation of the activities of all departments, departments and groups from above, and all personnel – from top management to the lowest level employees – are subject to the developed and approved regulations.
  2. Decentralized – large-scale tasks are set before top management, and they, in turn, are endowed with the right to independently find ways to solve them and redistribute parts of the task among subordinates.

In practice, both of these types are intertwined with each other – with effective management, their use depends on the situation and exists in parallel to each other. Excessive centralization of management is a warning sign. Its manifestations become noticeable – tasks are duplicated, deadlines are missed, the staff of performers increases, but productivity remains low.

Why is delegation carried out and why is it necessary

Delegation of powers is designed to relieve the boss as much as possible, freeing him from routine work to solve more complex issues. In addition to the function of “unloading” and freeing up time, this principle has other tasks – raising the level of specialists, additional motivation, and professional growth of employees.

A competent manager is required to be able to see the task as a whole, know methods for solving it, and have a staff of qualified specialists to carry it out. A well-organized work team should be a well-oiled mechanism, with a clear understanding of the functions and tasks of each department.

Main purposes of delegation

Correct delegation of authority allows you to solve more problems, achieve goals more effectively, and ensure interchangeability. As a result, such a company is more likely to gain competitive advantages in the market than one where the staff works under the leadership of a less experienced manager.

Advantages, difficulties and problems of delegation

Most often, it is the incorrect organization of the work process that prevents you from taking advantage of the fruits of delegation of authority – for example, errors in the development of the enterprise’s document flow. The habit of distributing tasks verbally or using paper logs does not allow you to track either the specific performer or what stage the task is at. Even with proper delegation, it is necessary to take care of a system that allows each employee to see the distribution of responsibilities and stages of implementation.


The second important component of success is annual certification. This procedure should not be taken lightly – properly conducted interviewing of employees will reveal their potential, determine the group of responsibility, and assess personal qualities and aspirations. The main idea of ​​such certification is not so much to update the personnel reserve by getting rid of ballast, but to understand what type of work is more effective to entrust to a particular employee.

When testing, it is important to evaluate the psychological factor – workers in the same position differ – some are able to express themselves to the maximum under time pressure and are stress-resistant, others are lost under force majeure, but are indispensable for large volumes of paperwork or routine work, are diligent and attentive to details .

Kaizen: how the Japanese management system works
Kaizen: how the Japanese management system works

The obvious advantage of delegation is the ability to replace motivation in the form of monetary rewards (bonuses and bonuses) with prospects for career growth and continuous development. You should not forget about this factor when talking with employees – after all, many leave stability for competitors only because a series of similar assignments sucks them in, and a person, not seeing prospects and not trying new things, is forced to quit to realize his career aspirations.

On the way to achieving the main goals of delegation of authority: efficiency of the work process and motivation of personnel, other difficulties arise. One of them is the inability to correctly assess the level of an employee, distrust of the level of his responsibility and qualifications, and even the reluctance to develop competitors who threaten to replace their leader.

Often, an insurmountable barrier is the awareness of the manager’s significantly greater responsibility – after all, in the event of a failure or poor-quality work, the performer usually risks only a reprimand or a fine, while top management is always aware of the damage that can be caused to the company as a whole.

On one side of the scale are personal risks and inconveniences, on the other is the success and prosperity of the company. It is important to understand here that the ability to organize the entire system in the workplace and establish a cycle from setting a large-scale problem to the smallest nuances of solving it will become the calling card of a good manager. It is this that distinguishes a manager from an ordinary specialist, and it also distinguishes this position in the remuneration system.