Meaning of Delegation of Authority ↓
Delegation of authority is one vital organizational process. It is inevitable along with the expansion and growth of a business enterprise. Delegation means assigning of certain responsibilities along with the necessary authority by a superior to his subordinate managers. Delegation does not mean surrender of authority by the higher level manager. It only means transfer of certain responsibilities to subordinates and giving them the necessary authority, which is necessary to discharge the responsibility properly. Delegation is quite common in all aspects of life including business. Even in the college, the principal delegates some of his authority to the vice-principal.
In delegation, an attempt is being made to have meaningful participation and cooperation from the subordinates for achieving certain well-defined results. Due to delegation, the routine responsibilities of the superior are reduced. As a result, he concentrates on more urgent and important matters. Secondly, due to delegation, subordinate becomes responsible for certain functions transferred to him. Delegation is a tool, which a superior manager uses for sharing his work with the subordinates and thereby raising his efficiency.
Delegation is not a process of abdication. The person who delegates does not divorce himself from the responsibility and authority with which he is entrusted. He remains accountable for the overall performance and also for the performance of his subordinates. Delegation is needed when the volume of work to be done is in excess of an individual's physical and mental capacity.
Delegation involves the following three basic elements:
- Assignment of duties to subordinates,
- Granting of authority to enable the subordinates to perform the duties assigned, and
- Creation of obligation on the part of subordinate to perform duties in an orderly manner.
Definitions of Delegation of Authority ↓
- According to F.C. Moore, "Delegation means assigning work to the others and giving them authority to do so."
- According to O. S. Miner, "Delegation takes place when one person gives another the right to perform work on his behalf and in his name and the second person accepts a corresponding duty or obligation to do that is required of him."
- According to Louis Allen, "Delegation is the dynamics of management, it is the process a manager follows in dividing the work assigned to him so that he performs that part which only he, because of his unique organizational placement, can perform effectively, and so that he can get others to help him with what remains."
Objectives of Delegation of Authority ↓
- To reduce the excessive burden on the superiors i.e., executives and managers functioning at different levels.
- To provide opportunities of growth and self development to junior executives.
- To create a team of experienced and matured managers for the Organisation. It acts as a technique of management and human resource development.
- To improve individual as well as overall efficiency of the Organisation.
Process of Delegation of Authority ↓
Delegation process involves four distinct stages. The process of delegation moves through these stages. The following figure shows the stages in the process of delegation of authority.
Four Stages In Process of Delegation of Authority ↓
(A) Assignment of duties to subordinates ↓
Before delegating, the delegator has to decide precisely the duties which are to be delegated to the subordinate or a group of subordinates. The authority is delegated accordingly and the subordinate is told what is expected from him. The usual practice is to list the functions to be performed by the subordinate. If necessary, targets to be achieved by the subordinate are also spelt out. Subordinates may be assigned tasks either in terms of activities or results. The manager (delegator) must communicate clearly his expectations. Competent and responsible employees may be given general guidelines about what needs to be accomplished. Their less competent and responsible counter-parts need more specific guidelines. In brief, in the first stage of delegation process, duties are assigned to the subordinate.
(B) Transfer of authority to perform the duty ↓
In the second stage of delegation process, the authority is granted by the delegator to his subordinate (delegate). Authority must be delegated strictly to perform the assigned duty. The performance of duties suffers serious setback when required authority is not delegated along with the duty. In brief, the transfer of authority should be adequate considering the duties assigned to the subordinate.
(C) Acceptance of the assignment ↓
In this third stage of delegation process, the subordinate/delegate has to accept or reject the task assigned to him in the first stage along with the authority given in the second stage. If the delegates refuse, the delegator has to make fresh plan of delegation or may consider some other subordinate who is capable and is willing to accept the assignment. On the other hand, the process of delegation will move to the fourth and the last stage, if the first delegates accept the assignment of work accompanying the authority.
(D) Creation of Obligation / Accountability / Responsibility ↓
The fourth stage in the, delegation of authority is the creation of obligation on the part of the subordinate to perform duties assigned to him in a satisfactory manner by using the authority given. When subordinate accepts a task and the authority is given, an obligation is created. He has to perform the assigned task by using the authority granted to him. A subordinate is also responsible/accountable for completing the assigned work. He is held answerable to a superior for the satisfactory performance of that work assigned. The delegator has to help his subordinate as and when necessary as he is responsible to his superior/organisation.
Advantages / Importance of Delegation of Authority
- Relieves manager for more challenging jobs : Delegation makes it possible for the managers to distribute their workload to others. Thus, managers are relieved of routine work and they can concentrate on higher functions of management like planning, organising, controlling, etc.
- Leads to motivation of subordinates : Subordinates are encouraged to give their best at work when they have authority with responsibility. They take more initiative and interest in the work and are also careful and cautious in their work. Delegation leads to motivation of employees and manpower development.
- Facilitates efficiency and quick actions : Delegation saves time enabling tile subordinates to deal with the problems promptly. They can take the decisions quickly within their authority. It is not necessary to go to the superiors for routine matters. This raises the overall efficiency in an Organisation and offers better results in terms of production, turnover and profit.
- Improves employee morale : Delegation raises the morale of subordinates as they are given duties and supporting authority. They feel that they are responsible employees. The attitude and outlook of subordinates towards work assigned becomes more constructive.
- Develops team spirit : Due to delegation, effective communication develops between the superiors and subordinates. The subordinates are answerable to superiors and the superiors are responsible for the performance of subordinates. This brings better relations and team spirit among the superiors and subordinates
- Maintains cordial relationships : The superiors trust subordinates and give them necessary authority. The subordinates accept their accountability and this develops cordial superior-subordinate relationships.
- Facilitates management development : Delegation acts as a training ground for management development. It gives opportunity to subordinates to learn, to grow and to develop new qualities and skills. It builds up a reservoir of executives, which can be used as and when required. Delegation creates managers and not mere messengers.
The advantages of delegation will not be available easily and automatically. They will be available only when the process of delegation moves smoothly. Problems may develop, if the delegation is not introduced with proper planning and in proper spirit. For example, the authority given to subordinate is inadequate or the subordinate is not competent to discharge the responsibilities assigned or the superior fails to monitor the whole process of delegation effectively. In all such cases, the delegation will be ineffective and the expected advantages will not be available to the Organisation and also to concerned parties.
Obstacles / Barriers to Effective Delegation of Authority ↓
(A) Obstacles / Barriers on the Part of Manager / Superior / Delegator
- Unwillingness of the manager to delegate authority : Some superiors/managers tend to think that they can do the job better when they themselves handle the job. The attitude that 'I can do it better myself' on the part of superior acts as an obstacle to delegation. Some managers (superiors) who are autocratic and power worshippers feel that delegation will lead to reduction of their influence in the Organisation. A manager may feel that if he has a competent subordinate and if he delegates authority to the subordinate, quite likely he will outshine him (manager) and may be promoted.
- Fear of competition : A manager may feel that if he has a competent subordinate and if he delegates authority to the subordinate, quite likely he will outshine him. Fear of subordinate's excellence may come in the way of delegation.
- Lack of confidence in subordinates : A manager may hesitate to delegate authority, if he feels that his subordinate is not competent to deal with the problem and take decisions. Even fear of losing control over the subordinates acts as an obstacle to delegation. In addition, fear of being exposed due to personal shortcomings may act as an obstacle in the process of delegation.
- Lack of ability to direct : Sometimes, a manager may experience difficulty in directing the efforts of his subordinates because of his inability to identify and communicate the essential features of his long-range plans and programmes.
- Absence of controls that warn of coming troubles : An Organisation might not have developed the controlling techniques to know in advance the serious problems lying ahead. It may happen due to concentration of power in the hands of few people. As a result, manager may resist delegation.
- Conservative and cautious temperament of the manager : If a manager has a conservative and over-cautious approach, there will be psychological barrier in the way of delegation. A manager avoids delegation as he feels that something may go wrong even when the instructions given are clear and the subordinates are reliable.
- Desire to dominate subordinates : Managers (Superiors) normally, have a desire to dominate the subordinates functioning under their control. They feel that their domination will reduce if the powers are delegated to subordinates. They also feel that due to delegation, the subordinates will know their managerial deficiencies. In order to maintain their superior status and in order to dominate the subordinates, they avoid delegation itself.
(B) Obstacles / Barriers on the Part of Subordinates ( Why Subordinates Resist Delegation? )
- Too much dependence on the manager for decisions : Some subordinates avoid responsibility even when the superior/manager is prepared to delegate authority. They want the manager to tackle problems and take decisions. A subordinate who is not confident about his performance/ability will certainly try to shirk responsibility even though his superior is prepared to delegate functions and authority.
- Fear of criticism : Subordinates express unwillingness to accept delegated authority because of the fear of criticism in the case of mistakes. They fear that they may be criticized by others if they commit mistakes. Such subordinates have the following feeling in their mind, "Why should I stick my neck out for my boss?"
- Lack of information : A subordinate may hesitate to accept a new assignment, when he knows that necessary information to perform the job is not likely to be made available to him. He is reluctant to accept delegated functions and authority as he feels that he will not be able to perform well due to inadequate information available.
- Absence of positive incentives : Positive incentives like recognition of work and rewards go a long way in building up the morale of subordinates. In the absence of such incentives in the form of recognition, appreciation or monetary benefit, a subordinate may not be prepared to accept delegation of authority.
- Absence of self-confidence : A subordinate may lack self-confidence about his ability to take quick and correct decisions. He may not like to accept new challenging functions as he lacks self-confidence. Thus, lack of self-confidence on the part of subordinates is one obstacle which comes in the way of delegation of authority.
- Difficulty in decision-making : A subordinate may not have the skill and the expertise to take quick and correct decisions. He prefers to go to his superior (boss) and ask for his guidance or opinion. Such psychology acts as a cause for non-acceptance of delegation. A subordinate avoids delegation due to such mental tension or inferiority complex.
- Poor superior-subordinate relations : Absence of cordial relations in between the superior and the subordinates hampers the process of delegation of authority. The attitude of the superior towards subordinate may not be friendly but hostile. There may be undue interference in the work assigned to the subordinate. Even the good work of subordinate may not be appreciated by the superior. Such situation creates unfavorable attitude of subordinate towards delegation. He avoids delegation as and when offered.
- Undue interference by superior : A superior should not interfere in the duties delegated to the subordinate. He may offer guidance as and when asked for. Some superiors interfere in the work of his subordinate and try to control him often and again. In the absence of legitimate freedom, the subordinate becomes uneasy and prefers to remain away from the process of delegation.
- Fear of being exposed : Some subordinates may have inferiority complex. They feel that they have limited capacity to accept the challenges which are bound to come out to delegation. They feel that their inability to deal with new problems will be exposed due to delegation. This fear acts as an obstacle to delegation.
Principles of Effective Delegation of Authority ↓
- Knowledge of Objectives : Before delegating authority, the subordinates should be made to understand their duties and responsibilities. In addition, knowledge of objectives and policies of the enterprise should be provided to them. This will enable them to discharge their roles purposefully in the process of delegation.
- Parity of Authority and Responsibility : This principle of delegation suggests that when authority is delegated, it should be commensurate with the responsibility of the subordinate. In fact, the authority and responsibility should be made clear to the subordinate so that he will know what he is expected to do within the powers assigned to them. There should be proper balance/parity or co-existence between the authority and responsibility. A subordinate will not function efficiently, if authority given to him is inadequate. On the other hand, if the excess authority is given, he may misuse the same. For avoiding this, the subordinates who are assigned duties should be given necessary/ adequate authority enables them to carry out their duties.
- Unity of Command : This principle of delegation suggests that everyone should have only one boss. A subordinate should get orders and instructions from one superior and should be made accountable to one superior only. This means 'no subordinate should be held accountable to more than one superior'. When a subordinate is asked to report to more than one boss, it leads to confusion and conflict. Unity of command also removes overlapping and duplication of work. In the absence of unity of command, there will be confusion and difficulty in fixing accountability.
- The Scalar Principle : The scalar principle of delegation maintains that there should be clear and direct lines of authority in the Organisation, running from the top to the bottom. The subordinate should know who delegates authority to him and to whom he should contact for matters beyond his authority. They (subordinates) should also know what is expected from them. This principle justifies establishment of the hierarchical structure within the Organisation.
- Clarity of Delegation : The principle of clarity of delegation suggests that while delegating authority to subordinates, they should be made to understand the limits of authority so that they know the area of their operation and the extent of freedom of action available to them. Such clarity guides subordinates while performing their jobs.
- Absoluteness of Responsibility : This principle of delegation suggests that it is only the authority which is delegated and not the responsibility. The responsibility is absolute and remains with the superior. He cannot run away from the same even after delegation. Even when the manager delegates authority to his subordinate, he remains fully accountable to his superiors because responsibility cannot be divided between a superior and his subordinate. No superior can delegate responsibilities for the acts of his subordinates. He is responsible for the acts and omissions of his subordinates.
- Use of Exception Principle : This principle of delegation indicates that when authority is delegated, it is expected that the subordinate will exercise his own judgment and take decisions within the purview of his authority. He is to be given adequate freedom to operate within his authority even at the cost of mistakes. He should refer the problems to the top level management only when he is unable to take decisions. Unnecessary interference in the work of delegates should be avoided. This normal rule can be given up under exceptional circumstances. Here, the superior can interfere in the work of his subordinate and even withdraw the delegated duties and authority. The superior takes this decision under exceptional circumstances.
- Completeness of Delegation : This principle of delegation suggests that there should be completeness in the process of delegation. The process of delegation should be taken to its logical end. Otherwise, there will be confusion of authority and accountability.
- Effective Communication Support System : This principle suggests that there should be continuous flow of information between the superior and the subordinates with a view to furnishing relevant information to subordinate for decision-making. This helps him to take proper decisions and also to interpret properly the authority delegated to him. Delegation system may not work smoothly in the absence of effective communication between the superior and subordinates.
- Reward for Effective Delegation : This principle suggests that effective delegation and successful assumption of authority should be rewarded. This will facilitate fuller delegation and effective assumption of authority within the Organisation. Reward for effective delegation will provide favorable environmental climate for its fair introduction.