The Best Delegation Style to Free Up Time

The Best Delegation Style to Free Up Time


by Melanie Benson Strick

Got a shortage of time and energy to pull off your big vision? At a certain point in your small business growth, an entrepreneur needs to hire help to achieve more.

Hiring a virtual assistant or employee or even a team of experts will help – but before you do you need to know which of the five delegation methods is best at your stage of growth. Most entrepreneurs get stuck in one of these first three levels – which will make them the bottleneck to faster growth and team efficiency.

Let’s go through each style to determine which is right for your current stage of growth.


Style 1: Dictate

“Do what I tell you…and nothing else!”

In Dictate, the small business owner tends to be very hands on and direct tasks to the team member. This stage requires a lot of management and direction and is best for a team member who is in the learning mode or who has limited ability for autonomy. This level gives no authority for decision making to the team member and ultimately requires the entrepreneur (or manager) to maintain over-sight. This level is very time-intensive so don’t count on much freedom.


Style 2: Research

“Look into the situation and bring to me options so I can decide.”

In the Research mode of delegation, the entrepreneur hands off activities that they don’t know how to do yet. The idea is to have someone else figure out how to do it but the owner maintains the step of deciding which direction to go. This level of delegation is helpful when a lot of new technology is involved or there are multiple options available. This level frees up some time but keeps the entrepreneur in “bottleneck” mode as final decision maker.


Style 3: Collaborate

“Provide potential solutions and we’ll decide together.”

In the Collaborate stage, the business owner recognizes the value of training others to make the best decisions and to handle a situation the way they would. In this method, the business owner expects the employee or team member to come up with solutions, but they decide on action steps together. This method creates more buy-in from the team member and ultimately begins to free up the business owner as the employee demonstrates reliability in their approach. This is a good approach to train your team member for more autonomy.


Style 4: Approval

“Decide what to do but give me final approval first.”

In the Approval stage of delegation, all of the research and decision-making is handled by the team member with a quick update for final approval. In this approach, the business owner is given the bottom line of the situation which would include: the situation, the decision, and the impact to resources. The business owner gives final spending approval. In this style, trust and a track record of demonstrated results is required before moving into the Approval Delegation Method. Also, the business owner MUST be willing to live with the results of the decisions without complaining and constantly correcting the team member.


Style 5: Ownership

“Handle it and inform me later.”

The Ownership approach is the ultimate freedom for the small business owner and must be a stage that is grown into overtime after much trust and confidence is built up. This method is only accessible when the team member has demonstrated a level of expertise that is higher than the business owner. When ownership is handed off the owner must be able to rely on the team member to emulate or handle the situation more effectively than the entrepreneur.

Ownership must have some form of checkpoint. Typically a monthly or quarterly update meeting is required depending on the level of autonomy the team member has over their role.

As you develop more as a leader and gain confidence in your team, you’ll be able to move from the early methods to the more advanced – which ultimately free up more of your time and energy. But don’t skip to style 5 to early!




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