What can I do about a direct report who assumes too much, or too little, authority?

by Sam on December 7, 2010

Answer: Create a table much like the one below to set the matter straight.

This tool achieves clarity in the comparative responsibility you share with direct reports for key decisions regarding the business of your team, division, or company. It also refocuses a direct report who is currently assuming too much or too little accountability for those decisions.

Here’s how to apply this tool to your leadership.

A.    In the left-hand column of the table list the most pressing decisions that need to be made within the direct report’s area. A few examples are shown. These happen to relate specifically to staffing. You’ll have different decisions than these.

B.    In the right-hand column show the discretion you give—or don’t give—for each decision. Use the following rating scale to do this. (The resulting scores in the table are merely examples, and are not meant to suggest best practices.)

5 : You decide; I don’t need to know what you did

4 : You decide; inform me of your choice as soon as you make it

3 : You come with your intended decision; I approve or deny it before the die is cast

2 : You come with recommendations; we decide together through consensus

1 : You come with recommendations as input to my decision

0 : I decide without your input

Decisions in the Direct Report’s Area of Responsibility


Creation or elimination of positions


Recruitment and selection


Employee goal setting


Assignments to projects


Performance ratings on appraisal forms


Awarding of merit increases




Disciplinary actions




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