My Favorite Delegation Tool: “Pergiveness”

Dear Coach,

I am working with a leader on improving her delegation skills. Do you have any suggestions or tips for me?



Dear Michael,

Yes! My favorite delegation tool is what I call “pergiveness.” It’s a mix of asking for “permission” and begging for “forgiveness”.
Usually, if you work for me, you need my okay before doing something. But with pergiveness, you can do what you think is best and say sorry later if needed.
Here’s how pergiveness works: Before you do something, you send me a message saying:
What you’re going to do.
Why you’re doing it.
When you’ll do it.
You don’t ask for my permission. Instead, you state something like, “Let me know if you have any questions or wish to discuss this.”

If you don’t hear from me by the date or time you state in your message, go for it!

Why is this tool so effective?

If I’m your boss, pergiveness gives you the freedom to act and it gives me the freedom not to act. I can tell you to wait, that we need to talk first. Or I can say “Great!” Or I can do… nothing.

When I was a middle manager, I used the tool with my boss and taught my reports to use it with me.

Pergiveness promotes effective delegation. Your leader and her reports can discuss which things fall into what category: permission, forgiveness, or pergiveness. This approach creates a healthy balance between micromanagement and rogue subordinate action. This way, leaders don’t worry about what their team is doing and don’t need to control everything.

I encourage you to add pergiveness to your coaching toolbox. Your boss will thank you.

Best regards,


Jathan Janove is a Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Master Coach and Practice Leader. You can learn more about him here. If you have a question you’d like him to address, please email us at


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