Delegation: complicate in order to simplify

Blog of the dean of Lviv Business School of UCU Sofia Opatska for the first issue of the magazine Insight LvBS Inside # 1.

Photo: Vitaliy Hrabar/LUFA

Once an employee becomes a manager and he has subordinates, the delegation becomes an integral part of the work. This is a particularly important task for the senior levels of management. Since he would be able to focus on the important long-term problems, only if he delegated the operational work. Then his responsibility is put on the strategy, large-scale projects that can last for years. The manager must inspire the team and customers and perform the role of a representative of the company. This takes a lot of time. To find it, you need delegation.

In order to be able to delegate, you need to gather in your team the people, who can be trusted.

It is important to understand: the lower the level of experience and competence of the person you delegate, the less time of the collaboration with her, the more clearly the task should be set. Meanwhile, the larger experience in work with this person, the easier the process goes on. Then you can just set the direction, and he/she will "create", finalize and bring the result. For me it is more interesting to work with the second type of people. The common experience is very important for the easiness of interaction. The more things you have made together, the more experience you have.

However, during the delegation you should be prepared for some difficulties.


Manager thinks that he clearly said and explained; the employee did not understand.

For the manager and "old-timers" of the company, something is obvious. But we do not know whether the new people know this and understand. They should be given as much details on the work in the company in order to develop certain processes and to save the schemes.

Do not assume that other people know what you think!

Features of the people

There are different types of people: activists, analysts, theorists, pragmatists. The trick is that the same task should be given to the different people in different ways. Someone needs to have the set direction; someone - explanation in details of the context; someone - clearly description of the algorithm of implementation, while others may simply write a series of tasks and begin to implement them not in the order of their priority, but in the order of recording. Understand people and not be afraid to communicate.

Change of approaches

For young managers it is difficult to delegate: they are scared when a new person is doing something that was once their duty differently. For me personally that is not a problem: if the standard and the result of the work are high, I will only enjoy it. It is bad, if the standard is lowered. Then we have to indicate, where we can be better and to learn the worker.

Train and trust

This process also has a limit: there are different types of people. There are people who reach a certain level and lose their desire to move forward. If we are talking about those who seek the opportunities to develop themselves and identify themselves with the company, then the loyalty and trust become important. Such things are related. If I know that the person perceives business school as its own organization, and does not come just to serve the working hours (such people do not survive with us), then mutual loyalty and trust exist in practice and remove many questions.

Often, managers think that it is easier to do on your own than to tell all the details to the employee. But it is important to understand that the more you invests in the person and explain something, the easier it will be to work together in the future.

Roughly speaking, the delegation may be a temporary complication of the work to make it easier later. This is assuming that the person delegated is correct.

For a good example I propose to consider one model of the delegation.

Sophia Opatska

Photo: Vitaliy Hrabar/LUFA

In one of the issues of «Harvard Business Review» Sabina Nawaz proposes to use a delegation model, which provides employee responsibility for the outcome.

Firstly, determine at what stage of the training and development is your employee. These are so-called four stages of competence - if he knows how to perform a specific task:

  • unconsciously does not know;
  • consciously does not know;
  • consciously knows;
  • uconsciously knows;

To find out at what stage is the employee you can ask some direct questions:

  • How comfortable do you feel with this task?
  • What approach do you use to fulfill it?
  • Are there any specific steps that you doubt?

Then, depending on the level of competence, you can select the relevant form for your delegation.

Make. If the employee has no experience in the organization or has not yet developed the skills necessary for the job, he is likely at the stage of "unconscious incompetence". In this case, you need to show how to perform the task: you are performing work for the first time; the worker becomes your shadow and learn in order to know how to perform the task the next time.

Tell. If the employee recognizes that he does not quite know how to perform the tasks and to achieve results, more likely he is "consciously incompetent". You can speed up the process for the mastership by encouraging self-reflection. This stimulates the learning process and the conclusions making to be meaningful and understandable to the employee.

Teach. If an employee knows the specific steps to complete the task, but has difficulty with the general picture (something average between "consciously incompetent" and "consciously competent"), focus on the joint search for the answers to the question "why?”. Help him to perform the task explaining why you would have done in this or that way. That will help to understand the structural path to the goal.

Ask. If an employee knows how to perform tasks and acts like according to the prescript, but not automatically, then he is "consciously competent". For a better understanding of the topic ask some specific questions like: "What are the main conclusions you have made in the implementation?". This will encourage analyzing of his own work and that will lead to its deeper understanding.

Support. Even if the employee is fully able to perform the task (for example, "unconsciously competent"), it does not mean you have to leave him alone, without mentoring.

And, perhaps the most important, the schedules are changed, stakeholders obtain new priorities and many other, but your subordinate should always know that you are open to help.

To get a copy of the magazine Insight LvBS Inside # 1 you can at the reception of Lviv Business School of UCU (LvBS), Kozelnytska Str.2a, 3rd floor.