Delegation of authority involves giving authority to various organizational positions to get things done. It is one of the important factors in the process of organizing and is essential to the existence of a formal organization.

Delegation means “to send a representative, to entrust another, to act on one’s behalf” the later meaning is adopted with reference to authority. When an organisation grows, all its activities cannot be performed by a single individual.

The individual may however, extend his personal capacity by delegating some of his authority to other. Delegation is a way of doing work by sharing some of it with other.

E. F. L. Brech has also said-“Delegation is a process of sharing a few or all of the four elements of the management process, i.e. command, planning, co-ordination and control.” He goes on to say that the delegation is not a question of issuing instructions but is a bringing down of the executive’s responsibility and transmission of part or all of it to other persons.


Learn about:-

1. Introduction to Delegation of Authority 2. Definitions of Delegation of Authority 3. Meaning 4. Features 5. Importance 6. Forms 7. Elements 8. Principles

9. Pre Requisites for Effective Delegation of Authority 10. Steps 11. Methods 12. Types 13. Measures for Effective Delegation 14. Advantages 15. Factors that Blocks to Effective Delegation 16. Barriers 17. Suggestions.

Delegation of Authority: Introduction, Features, Importance, Principles, Process, Types, Advantages, Barriers, Methods and Steps


  1. Introduction to Delegation of Authority
  2. Definitions of Delegation of Authority
  3. Meaning of Delegation of Authority
  4. Features of Delegation of Authority
  5. Importance of Delegation of Authority
  6. Forms of Delegation of Authority
  7. Elements of Delegation of Authority
  8. Principles of Delegation of Authority
  9. Pre Requisites for Effective Delegation of Authority
  10. Steps of Delegation of Authority
  11. Methods of Delegation of Authority
  12. Types of Delegation of Authority
  13. Measures for Effective Delegation
  14. Advantages of Delegation of Authority
  15. Factors that Blocks to Effective Delegation
  16. Barriers in Delegation
  17. How to Delegate Effectively? (Suggestions by

Delegation of Authority – Introduction

Delegation refers to assignment of work to others and confer on them the required authority to accomplish that work.


The main quality of an organisation is proper delegation of authority in order to manage the function of the organisation satisfactorily.

In a centralised organisation authority is concentrated at a few peak points. Only few are directly and fully engaged in creative and problem solving aspects of the organisation. Others simply carry out what they have been directed to do. According to behavioural scientists, this is not conducive to human growth and development.

They attribute the reason for most of the behavioural problem to this phenomenon. There are others, who feel that if authority is highly centralised, the top executives will be so deeply involved in routine matters that they may not be able to give adequate time to important decisional activities. There is possibility of delay and neglect of important matters.


When the work of an executive increases so much in volume that he cannot hope to cope with it, he has to divide it among his subordinates. In doing this, he naturally expects that each subordinate will do the job as he himself would have done. This process of dividing the job is referred to as ‘delegation’.

Delegation is simply a matter of entrusting part of the work of operations or management to others. It is ‘the ability to get results through others,’ says Louis A. Allen. “It 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 organisational placement, can perform effectively, and so that he can get others to help him with what remains.”

Organisation involves the dividing up of work in business into a series of positions and tying these positions together. Delegation is the cement that binds the formal organisation together. The importance of delegation in effective management is fairly obvious. But for delegation, firms would remain small and an increase in their size may burn up the candle of the manager’s energies too soon—he may be physically and mentally exhausted and financially bankrupt.

Allen puts it, well when he says- ‘Once a man’s job grows beyond his personal capacity his success lies in his ability to multiply himself through other people (i.e., delegate his work to others). Delegation enables the managers to distribute their load of work to others thus leaving them free to concentrate on the higher functions of management.


Thus delegation determines the effectiveness of the manager in his work. Besides, the way delegation is effected will influence the relationship between the subordinate and his superior and through it the performance of the subordinate. In the absence of proper delegation, he may receive orders from many people and may, therefore, be unsure of his job.

Delegation of Authority – Definitions: By F.G. Moore, Louis A. Allen, S.S. Chatterjee, E.F.L. Brech and Mrityunjoy Banerjee

Delegation refers to the assignment of work to others and confer them the requisite authority to accomplish the job assigned:

(1) In the words of F. G. Moore- “Delegation means assigning work to others and give them authority to accomplish the job assigned.”

(2) Louis A. Allen has said-“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”.


(3) S. S. Chatterjee- Regards delegation as a process which “Involves sharing of either managerial work or operating work between a manager and his subordinates.

(4) E. F. L. Brech has also said-“Delegation is a process of sharing a few or all of the four elements of the management process, i.e. command, planning, co-ordination and control.” He goes on to say that the delegation is not a question of issuing instructions but is a bringing down of the executive’s responsibility and transmission of part or all of it to other persons.

(5) Mrityunjoy Banerjee in simple language has defined- “Delegation works as entrusting functions to the care or management of another or others.”

There are three aspects of delegation as an integral part of the organisation.


They are:

(a) Assignment of duties and tasks;

(b) Grant of authority; and

(c) Creation of obligation or accountability.


Since one person constitutes only one man power, so F. G. Moore has once said that- “Delegation therefore, is necessary for enlarging his capacity by asking trusted subordinates to share his burden.” Without delegation says S. S. Chatterjee, “The very existence of organisation is shattered at once.

If there are no duties to be divided and no authorities to be shared in the enterprise, the existence of an organisation structure is nullified and becomes absurd. Management of that matter organisation becomes impossible without delegation.”

For this reason activities are to be integrated, co-ordinated and unity of purpose to be achieved, this necessitates effective delegation.

Delegation of Authority – Meaning of Delegation of Authority

Top executive, because of limitations, cannot do whole work of the organisation himself and hence he takes assistance from others to accomplish the objectives. He divides the whole work into a number of activities and groups them on the basis of their similarity and thus creates a number of departments. These departments are separate bundles of activities. Delegation is the process through which they are tied together by establishing relationships between them for co-operative and integrated action.

The element that holds a formal organisation together, is made up of delegation and the resulting relationship between the members of organisation, Delegation is essential in a formal organisation. With the growth of enterprise, the task of management increases enormously. In such case a manager has to delegate some of his authority so that the entire work may be performed efficiently. However, the overall authority and responsibility always remain with the manager who delegates the authority.

A manager cannot without any purpose, just delegate authority. He delegates it to get a certain job done. By means of delegation, an executive extends his area of operations for, without delegation, his actions are confined to what he himself can perform.


Delegation means “to send a representative, to entrust another, to act on one’s behalf” the later meaning is adopted with reference to authority. When an organisation grows, all its activities cannot be performed by a single individual. The individual may however, extend his personal capacity by delegating some of his authority to other. Delegation is a way of doing work by sharing some of it with other.

Delegation has been defined as follows:

“Delegation is the transference to other of the responsibility for the performance of a specific task and/or for the making of decisions in a general or specific area of management activity.”

“Delegation means the passing on the other a share in the essential elements of the management process-a share, that is to say, in the judgements/decision for determining specific objectives plans and targets for directing given operations, and in the command/ control of the activities of the persons performing those operations”. – E. F. L. Brech

“To delegate means to grant or confer and delegation means conferring authority from one executive of organisational unit to another in order to accomplish particular assignments”. -G. R. Terry

In simple words, it may be stated that delegation is the task of assigning authority and responsibility to others for carrying out the operations for which such authority and responsibility is delegated.

Delegation of Authority – 5 Important Features

Delegation of authority involves giving authority to various organizational positions to get things done. It is one of the important factors in the process of organizing and is essential to the existence of a formal organization.

Delegation of authority has the following features:

1. Delegation is authorization to a manager to act in a certain manner. The degree of delegation prescribes the limits within which a manager has to decide the things. Since formal authority originates at the top level, it is distributed throughout the organization through delegation and re-delegation.

2. Authority once delegated can be enhanced, reduced, or withdrawn depending on the situation and requirement. For example, change in organization structure, policy, procedure, method, etc., may require change in the degree of delegation of authority

3. Delegation of authority is always to the position created through the process of organizing. The individual occupying a position may exercise the authority so long as he holds the position. Therefore, the authority is recovered fully from the individual when he moves from the particular position.

4. A manager delegates authority out of the authority vesting in him. He cannot delegate authority which he himself does not possess. Moreover, he does not delegate his full authority because if he delegates all his authority, he cannot work.

5. Delegation of authority may be specific or general. Delegation of authority is specific when courses of action for particular objectives are specified. It is general when these are not specified though objectives may be specified.

Delegation of Authority – Importance: Sharing of Work Load, Quick Decision Making, Motivation, Training, Expansion of Business, Efficient Functioning and a Few Others

Delegation of authority is the key to organisation. It is an art of higher order. All managers should be proficient in this art. Louis A. Allen has rightly observed. “How well one delegates determines how well one manages.”

1. Sharing of work load – Delegation lightens the burden of the executives by assigning the routine matters to their subordinates. Thus, the executives can concentrate on important policy matters.

2. Quick decision making – The subordinates need not go to their supervisors every time for taking decisions regarding routine matters. Thus, it facilitates quick decisions.

3. Motivation – Delegation helps to improve the job satisfaction, motivation and morale of subordinates. It also satisfies their need for recognition, responsibility and freedom.

4. Training – It serves as a tool of training executives for the future. This enables the organisation to face future challenges efficiently.

5. Expansion of business – Delegation facilitates the expansion and diversification of business through a team of competent and contented workers. In the absence of delegation, firms would remain small.

6. Specialised knowledge – It enables a manager to obtain the specialised knowledge and expertise of the subordinates.

7. Efficient functioning – Delegation provides basis for efficient and effective functioning of the firm by binding the formal organisation together.

8. Better performance – It improves performance of work because responsibility is given to the subordinates on the basis of specialisation

9. Better relation – Delegation increases interaction and understanding among managers and subordinates. Thus, it maintains healthy relations between them.

Delegation is considered to be one of the most important methods of training subordinates and building morals. The delegation of authority helps the manager to concentrate on the important work of planning, organising and controlling.

Delegation is a universal process, wherever human beings work in groups, one or the other form of delegation is practised by them. In our democratic India, the people delegate their authority to the members of the legislatures. The members of legislatures delegate their authority to any of the elected leaders who in turn delegates some of his authority to the cabinet ministers chosen by him.

An individual can accomplish several simple and complex works. Delegation enables a person not only to discharge his responsibility but also to discharge it effectively and economically.

To a business unit which has different branches situated at different places, there is no alternative except delegation. It is acknowledged that delegation of authority is one of the surest and the best methods of getting better results. A very good superior can use the delegation of authority as a tool for motivating and eliminating cumbersome information systems.

The main reasons why delegation of authority is essential also explain its importance – it is essential for strategic planning and better utilisation of manpower resources; it reduces the work load of managers at certain levels of decision making for which subordinates may be best suited; as a strategy it becomes an effective tool for strengthening mutual relations between the manager and his subordinates; it motivates not only the subordinate to whom authority is delegated but others as well; it provides the learning opportunities and facilitates organisational growth; it develops managerial talent particularly suited to the organisation; it strengthens the communication channels and further promotes external relationships; it satisfies human resource developmental needs of the organisation.

Delegation of Authority – 3 Main Forms: Top to Bottom, Bottom to Top and Lateral Delegation

Form # 1. Top to Bottom Delegation:

The process of delegation described above where superiors delegate part of their workload to sub­ordinates is top to bottom delegation.

Form # 2. Bottom to Top Delegation:

This form of delegation recognises the importance of informal groups in the formal organisation structures. The force of attraction of group members is so strong that if it comes to obeying the superior or group members, they choose the latter. Managers, in such cases, have to be careful in issuing orders and directions to sub-ordinates to carry out the delegated tasks.

They motivate sub-ordinates as members of the group and not as individual members. According to Allen, “to the extent that the manager convinces the members of the group that their needs, his own and those of the company coincide, he can motivate them to produce according to the standards he sets.”

Form # 3. Lateral Delegation:

When managers delegate duties to sub­ordinates in the hierarchy, sub-ordinates further delegate the tasks informally to people at the same level in other units. For example, if general manager of sales department asks sales manager to compile the figures of sales and sales personnel for the month of January, the sales manager will seek the assistance of finance manager and personnel manager.

Thus, authority and responsibility delegated to the sales manager is shared by him with managers of other departments working at the same level. This is a form of lateral delegation. Peer groups in this case come together and carry out the task as a team.

Delegation of Authority – Elements: Determination of Results Expected, Assigning of Responsibilities, Granting of Authority and Creating of Accountability

This delegation of authority has the following three elements:

1. Assigning of responsibilities,

2. Granting of authority.

3. Creating of Accountability.

The process of delegation involves three essential elements or aspects viz. responsibility, authority and accountability. However, some management experts hold the view that the process of delegation should include determination of expected results as the first step.

i. Determination of Results Expected:

This is the first step in the process of delegation of authority. A manager has to define the results he wants to obtain from his subordinates for the achievement of organisational objectives. This will enable the subordinate to know by what standards his performance will be evaluated.

ii. Assignment of Duties or Responsibility:

The manager then, assigns specific duties or tasks to each subordinate. While assigning duties and responsibilities, he must ensure that the subordinates understand and accept their duties. Moreover, the assignment of responsibilities may be done on the basis of the qualifications, experience and aptitude of the subordinates.

iii. Granting of Authority:

The delegator also grants authority to his subordinates for the performance of the assigned work. The subordinates cannot discharge their responsibilities without adequate authority. Authority enables the subordinates to use resources, to take decisions and to exercise discretion.

iv. Creation of Accountability:

Delegation creates accountability on the part of the subordinates for the assigned work. The subordinates are answerable to the delegator for the proper performance of the assigned work and for the exercise of the delegated authority.

However, the extent of accountability depends upon the extent of delegation of authority and responsibility. To sum up, duty, authority and accountability are three essential elements of delegation and they are interdependent.

According to W.H. Newman “These three inevitable attributes of delegation are like a three-legged stool. Each depends on the others to support the whole and no two can stand alone.”

Delegation of Authority – Some Basic Principles

(1) The principles of delegation are based on results expected.

(2) The principle of Absoluteness of Responsibilities. No superior can escape responsibilities for the activities of subordinates although the authority is delegated.

(3) The principle of Parity of Authority and responsibilities. Both are co-terminus.

(4) Principle of Unity of Command i.e., each subordinate should be asked to report to only one superior except in the cases of shared authority or splintered authority. The power must flow from a single superior to the single subordinate.

(5) Dual subordination should be avoided. Man cannot serve two masters well.

For Making Delegation Effective:

(1) State plans policies and goals clearly.

(2) Define job assigned clearly in the light of what is expected.

(3) Select the proper man.

(4) Maintain open lines of communication.

(5) Establish proper controls.

(6) Reward effective delegation.

(7) Provide suitable training to the persons concerned.

(8) See that proper facilities, tools and equipment are provided to the persons concerned.

Delegation of Authority – 13 Prerequisites for Effective Delegation of Authority

A supervisor can delegate his authority after acquiring knowledge of the following pre­requisites of effective delegation:

1. The supervisor must understand the authority and responsibility of their own.

2. The supervisors must decide the portion of his authority that he wants to delegate to subordinates.

3. The supervisor should have thorough knowledge of the abilities and inabilities of subordinates.

4. The supervisor must ensure that the subordinates have understood the delegated work in the right direction.

5. The supervisor should delegate only the routine functions to subordinates.

6. The supervisor must understand these need, importance and value of delegation.

7. The supervisor should delegate the work which can be performed independently.

8. The supervisor must dissuade the subordinate from being tempted to take decision by themselves.

9. The supervisor must release the decision making powers to his subordinates.

10. There should be adequate communication network within the organisation.

11. There should be a clear definition of standard of accountability.

12. Delegation must be done in accordance with the overall plan for the completion of the work.

13. The delegation of authority should be confined to the organisational structure.

Delegation of Authority – 4 Main Steps: Determination of Results Expected, Assignment of Duties, Authorization for Action and Creation of Accountability

Delegation of authority throughout an organization does not occur automatically.

This requires certain steps which are as follows:

1. Determination of Results Expected:

This step involves determination of results expected to be achieved by exercise of authority to be delegated. This is essential because authority should be delegated to a position according to the results expected from that position. Since authority is intended to enable a manager to get things done to achieve organizational objectives, it is essential that authority delegated to him is adequate to accomplish results expected.

2. Assignment of Duties:

This step involves assignment of duties to subordinates. Duties can be described in two ways- First, duties can be described in terms of an activity or set of activities; for example, selling activity of a salesman. Second, duties can be described in terms of results that are expected from the performance of activities, for example, how much sale is to be achieved by a salesman. Assignment of duties creates responsibility of the subordinates.

3. Authorization for Action:

This step involves granting of permission to act in a specified way like giving orders to subordinates, use of resources, and exercise control to get the assigned work done. Prescription to act in a specified way determines the scope of authority that may be exercised by the person to whom authority is delegated.

4. Creation of Accountability:

The last step of delegation of authority is to create accountability of the subordinate for the satisfactory performance of his assignment whether he carries out the total assignment himself or part of it is given to subordinates.

Delegation of Authority – 4 Important Methods: Administrative, Functional, Geographical and Technical Delegation

In a big manufacturing concern the following may be the methods of delegation of authority to ensure better result, unified direction and command and effective delegation:

Method # 1. Administrative Delegation:

When a few of the administrative functions are delegated to subordinate staff it is called administrative delegation. These functions are generally of routine nature, e.g., to maintain discipline, to supervise the work, to recommend for the reward or punishment, etc.

Method # 2. Functional Delegation:

When the enterprise is organized on the basis of functional organization, the delegation of authority is also done on the functional basis. All the heads are given to manage their departments according to their skill, knowledge and experience of course, they are accountable to the chief executives.

Method # 3. Geographical Delegation:

When the work of enterprise is located at different distant places it is not possible for an executive to mange the whole affairs single handly. He then proceeds to delegate his authority to those who are posted at the places where physically he cannot be present round the year. This is known as geographical method of delegating the authority.

Method # 4. Technical Delegation:

This method of delegation of authority is based on technical knowledge and skill. Here the authority is delegated in order to get the advantages of expert and experienced hands and their technical skill.

An executive according to Louise A. Allen can follow the under mentioned rules while delegating:

1. Established goals that are to be attained.

2. Define and enumerate the authority which the delegatee can exercise and the responsibility he has to shoulder.

3. Motivate the subordinate and provide him sufficient guidance. If necessary proper and adequate training should also be given to the delegatee before authority is delegated to him.

4. Ask for the completed work. In between if any help is needed by the delegatee he should be provided with such help either directly through someone who knows the work and is writing of help.

5. Establish an adequate control so as to supervise and provide necessary guidance.

Delegation of Authority – 8 Major Types: General, Specific, Formal, Informal, Written, Unwritten, Downwards and Upward Delegation

Type # 1. General Delegation:

It is that delegation in which the authority is given to perform general managerial functions, like planning, organizing, directing, etc. The subordinate managers perform these functions and enjoy the authority required to carry out these responsibilities. The Chief Executive exercises over all control and guides the subordinates from time-to-time.

Type # 2. The Specific Delegation:

Specific delegation relates to a particular function or an assigned task. The authority delegated to the production manager for carrying out this function will be a specific delegation. Various departmental managers get specific authority to undertake their department duties.

Type # 3. Formal Delegation:

Formal delegation has been considered as a part of organizational structure. Whenever a task is assigned to a person, the required authority is also given to him. This delegation is a part of the normal functioning of the organization. Every person is automatically given authority as per his duties. When production manager gets powers to increase production then it is formal delegation of authority.

Type # 4. Informal Delegation:

This delegation does not arise due to position but it arises according to the circumstances of the case. A person may undertake a particular task not because he has been assigned it but because it is necessary to do his normal work.

Type # 5. Written Delegation:

Written delegation is normally given through letters, instructions, circulars, etc. Whatever has been delegated it must be in writing.

Type # 6. Unwritten Delegation:

Unwritten delegation is given to the person concerned not in any particular way but through conventions, customs and usages the other party has to do work accordingly.

Type # 7. Downwards Delegation:

Downwards delegation is a common type of delegation and is used in every type of the working concern. This delegation has been considered as a superior’s delegation of authority to his immediate subordinate.

Type # 8. Upward Delegation:

This type of delegation takes place when a subordinate assigns some of his tasks to his superiors. This is an uncommon type of delegation and its instances are very rare.

Delegation of Authority – Measures for Effective Delegation

Effective delegation denotes distribution of authority at various points of the organization so that managers can take actions according to their responsibility. Responsibility for adequate delegation of authority lies mostly with superiors, particularly with top management.

However, at the same time, role of organizational prescriptions and subordinate managers is also important. In order to make delegation of authority effective, actions should be taken in all these directions.

Measures given below are helpful in making delegation of authority effective:

1. Making the Potential Delegator Feel Secure:

A non-delegator may feel insecure in his job. He wants to continue as the unchallenged superior and to be looked upon as a necessary person in the organization’s team. Therefore, there is a need for creating a feeling for security for such a person.

For this purpose, the following actions may be taken:

(i) It should be made very clear that his job and position is secure so long he continues to contribute to the organizational objectives.

(ii) His contributions for the organizational cause are not being questioned and attempts should be made to make him an effective manager,

(iii) Some apparent status symbols like office and other facilities can be granted to him. Granting such privileges reflects in part a manager’s appraisal through outward manifestations of his subordinate management members.

2. Creating Awareness for Need of Delegation:

Many managers are not fully aware about the need for adequate delegation of authority. They do not realize that they should do only what their subordinates cannot do. In this way, they can multiply themselves and their efforts. This happens more in the case of those managers who come from operative level and continue to make decisions which their subordinates can make. Through proper education and training, such managers can be convinced about the need for better delegation of authority.

3. Determining Decisions and Tasks to be Delegated:

Delegation is adversely affected because there is no clarity about what is to be delegated. A simple way for solving this problem is to identify the types of decisions to be made and tasks to be performed by each organizational position and rate each of these in terms of- (i) its relative importance to the total organization and (ii) the time required to perform it.

This information helps in determining the types of decisions and tasks to be assigned to each position and types of authority to be delegated. Usually, those decisions and tasks that are relatively less important and more time-consuming should be assigned to lower-level managers.

4. Establishing Conducive Organizational Climate:

An organizational climate free from fear and frustration goes a long way in determining the success of organizational processes including delegation of authority. Organizational climate is essentially psychological and social in nature. In a conducive organizational climate, managers feel confident that delegation of authority will be rewarded and not penalized. Further, delegation of authority should have the support of top level management. It should be reflected in adequate delegation of authority from top level itself.

5. Tying Delegation with Objectives:

A pitfall in delegation of authority is that, sometimes, it is undertaken without consideration of what is to be achieved by delegation. To delegate without knowing and keeping in mind objectives leads to chaos. Therefore, authority should be delegated to the managers after the objectives are clear.

6. Delegating Authority for Whole Job:

It is better to delegate authority for whole job that a position holder is expected to perform. Frequent delegation on the same subject-matter may convey a feeling that the delegator does not want to do the job and wants to get rid of unpleasant job through delegation.

7. Developing Appropriate Control Techniques:

Since a superior remains accountable even for the work which he has assigned to his subordinates, he must ensure that his subordinates get the work done. For this, proper control techniques should be developed to ascertain that delegated authority is being used properly. However, these control techniques should not interfere unnecessarily with the day-to-day functioning of the subordinates. These should be broad-based and should focus attention on major deviations from the proper use of authority.

Delegation of Authority – 6 Important Advantages

1. Delegation helps in avoiding any kind of act at a higher level which may, otherwise undermine the powers vested in the lower level units.

2. It avoids delay – Delegation helps in taking timely and accurate decisions. The personnel at lower level, being delegated, act quickly which serves the organization with due economy, efficiency and rapidly.

3. It avoids overwork- Delegation shifts some portions of the responsibility and work from the shoulders of the manager. To quote Beach – “The overworked manager who learns the art of delegation, is at one and the same time able to relieve himself of some of his burden, increase the competence of his men, and raise the level of accomplishment of his unit.”

4. It avoids wastage of time- Present-day management is a complicated process. A manager has to perform various functions as a matter of routine work. It is not possible for him to give proper attention to all matters coming to him. Delegation helps him in transferring the less important subject to his juniors and attends to more important works.

5. It develops increased sense of responsibility- Delegation generates an increased sense of responsibility in the subordinate personnel. It also increases their working capacity and helps in enhancing their unspotted calibre which could be helpful for management.

6. It helps in training the new incumbents- The lower units that use the delegated power, get a spontaneous feel of their future responsibility. They become aware of the works at the higher level to which they may be promoted. Delegation also helps in developing the managerial personnel within the organization.

Delegation of Authority – Factors that Block Effective Delegation: In Superior, In Subordinate and Organisational Factors

Ideally speaking, delegation of authority must be commensurate with responsibility. It implies that delegation should be according to need both in terms of quantity and quality of authority. If a manager thinks that he has as much authority as needed to perform his duties, he can treat his authority to be adequate. Delegation of authority is inadequate to the extent it falls short of the need for authority. Managers, often, complain about the inadequate delegation of authority because they do not have authority commensurate with their responsibility.

This happens because of several reasons. Such reasons can be seen in the context of superior — the person who delegates authority, subordinate — the person to whom authority is delegated, and the organization in which context delegation of authority takes place.

Let us see how these factors block effective delegation of authority:

I. Factors in Superior:

The characteristics of superior play an important role in delegation of authority and he is likely to delegate less authority in the following situations:

1. Love for Authority:

A superior is unlikely to delegate authority adequately if he has intense desire to influence others, to make his importance felt in the organization, and to see that his subordinates come frequently to get their decisions approved. Such desires on the part of the superior keep him away from delegation of adequate authority to his subordinates irrespective of their needs.

2. Maintenance of Tight Control:

If a superior wants to maintain tight control over the matters assigned to him, he does not delegate authority adequately to his subordinates. He likes to show busyness and security created by work piled high on his desk. Doing tangible work is a pleasurable activity for him, whereas thinking, planning, and other such intangible activities become a difficult proposition. The superior may become habituated to the constant contact of subordinates bringing matters to him for approval.

3. Fear of Subordinates:

A superior may not delegate adequate authority because of fear of subordinates. The fear of subordinates may take two forms. First, a subordinate might show that he can perform the superior’s work so well that he becomes entitled to his position, status, title, or prestige. Second, the subordinate’s increasing ability might earn him a promotion to some other part of the organization and the superior may lose his best subordinate. In this case, the superior may adopt defensive behaviour by not delegating the kind of authority that would have had such a result.

4. Fear of Exposure:

A superior, specially a weak one, may not like to delegate adequate authority simply because adequate delegation may reveal his managerial shortcomings being practised. This may happen specially when the superior has poor operating procedures, methods, and practices.

5. Attitude towards Subordinates:

Delegation of authority is a particular kind of trust between superior and his subordinates. Therefore, attitude towards each other affects delegation of authority.

Negative attitude works against delegation of authority in three ways-

(i) If a superior has lack of confidence in his subordinates’ capacity, he will not like to delegate them authority,

(ii) The superior may feel that his subordinates just do not require more authority than they have been delegated resulting in inadequate delegation of authority,

(iii) The superior may not have good interpersonal relationships with subordinates which may result in less delegation of authority.

6. Personality of Superior:

Personality factors of superior also affect the degree of delegation of authority. Thus, (i) an autocratic superior tends to delegate less authority as compared to a democratic superior; (ii) a superior believing in the application of modern management techniques likes to delegate adequately, (iii) a superior coming from the rank and file may delegate less; and (iv) a superior who has not been delegated adequate authority in his career is likely to delegate less.

II. Factors in Subordinate:

The degree of delegation of authority is also determined by the characteristics of subordinates.

While superior’s perception about the characteristics of subordinates plays an important role in delegation of authority, subordinates themselves affect the degree of delegation of authority in the following ways-

1. Some subordinates have better capability to assume more responsibility. Since responsibility and authority go together, competent subordinates may get more authority.

2. Delegation of authority is formal and institutional but its exercise is personal. Thus, a competent subordinate may assume and exercise more authority than others although working within the context of same set of delegation.

3. In the following situations, subordinates are expected to exercise less authority when- (i) they lack self-confidence; (ii) they have fear of harsh criticism for unfavourable results; (iii) they lack resources; (iv) they have inadequate positive incentives; and (v) their superior is easily available for making decisions on their part.

III. Organizational Factors:

Although personal factors affect the authority delegation to a very great extent, some organizational factors also affect the degree of authority delegation. Individual managers do not have control over these factors but have to work within the context of these factors. For example, even an autocrat has to delegate authority if the organizational factors so warrant.

Various organizational factors such as management philosophy, policy towards centralization or decentralization, availability of managerial personnel, control techniques, etc. determine the delegation of authority at various levels of management. If these factors are not favourable, delegation of authority will be affected adversely.

Delegation of Authority – Barriers in Delegation

There is a fear aspect in delegation which plays a dominant role in a decision as to “what to delegate” and “to whom to delegate”. Executive knows for certain that once authority is delegated they will lose the grip over their subordinates and also control over the operations. It is natural that the executives may not like to lose either the grip or control over the operation.

But the important psychology is that by their nature executives have no confidence in their subordinates. They feel that the subordinates are not capable of shouldering the responsibility, therefore, the question of delegation of authority does not arise.

Sometimes, executives suffer from inferiority psychosis. They know for certain that though they occupy a position of strength but their knowledge and skill are not up to the mark. Their subordinates are well equipped and thus they may do the assigned job well. No executive would like to delegate when he feels that his subordinate may surpass him.

From the above discussion, we may come to a conclusion that there are three types of fears which discourage delegation and thus create difficulties in delegation.

They are:

1. Fear of losing the grip and control over the operations;

2. Fear of not a better performance by the subordinate to whom the authority may be delegated; and

3. Fear of better performance by the subordinate to whom the authority may be delegated.

The above difficulties arise out of:

1. Existence of element of fear and frustration;

2. Incapable hands manning the executive positions;

3. Luck of mutual confidence;

4. No favourable management climate;

5. No inter-exchange of ideas and suggestions;

6. No proper and ambiguous definition of common goals to be achieved;

7. Non-independence in thinking and behaviour; and

8. Non-existence of atmosphere of teamwork.

Delegation is an important managerial technique. Every effort should be made to encourage delegation. This creates a sense of belonging among subordinates. It develops the personality of the subordinates and helps in evaluating the managerial performance. It also induces a sense of security among both the executives and their subordinates. A favourable management climate should be created for encouraging delegation.

Delegation of Authority – How to Delegate Effectively: Suggested by L.A. Allen

Delegation is an art and not a science. A manager who wishes to perfect his skill in delegation has, therefore, no infallible principles to draw upon.

L.A. Allen has suggested the following rules to guide an executive in delegating authority and responsibility:

i. Establish Goals:

Just as effective management can truly be said to be management by objectives, successful delegation can also be identified as ‘delegation by objectives’. A person to whom work is being delegated wants to know why he is being asked to do it. His superior may clear­ly see the total picture and where this particular work fits in, but his subordinate probably may not have any idea of why it is required or important.

But if he is to accept the delegation enthusiastically he needs to know that his job is both necessary and important. It is the job of the chief executive to explain the philosophy of organizational goals clearly to the subordinates. Further, he should see that these overall goals do not clash with the subordinates’ personal goals.

ii. Define Responsibility and Authority:

It is always better to put it in writing the authority, responsibility and relationships of each executive in the organization. This enables a subordinate to understand what his superior expects of him; it also helps the superior to balance the requirements of the work he is assigned and the manpower available to do it.

iii. Motivate Subordinates:

Motivation is the moving force in delegation. The effective manager should be able to motivate the subordinates and get things done. He should try to find out the real motives which compel people to work for others. Generally speaking, managers who are sensitive to the subordinates’ needs and goals are able to motivate them to peak performance.

iv. Require Completed Work:

The superior should put the subordinate completely on his own, once authority is delegated, and refuse him ac­cess until the subordinate has completed the job. The superior’s job is to provide guidance, help and information to subordinates. The subordinate must do the actual delegated work.

v. Provide Training:

The superior should teach subordinates how to im­prove their job performance. In turn, the superior should also change his conservative attitude and improve his communication skills. Like his subordinate, the superior needs training in the art of delegation. Accord­ing to Allen, training in delegation should follow three steps- appraisal of current performance in delegation, counselling for improvement and coaching on the job.

vi. Establish Adequate Controls:

Establish adequate standards against which the subordinate can measure and evaluate his own performance. Self-control is more effective than a system of external control imposed from above. In order to develop effective self-control, the superior should allow the subordinate to participate in setting the standards that will ultimately measure his (subordinate’s) performance.

Participation helps the subordinate understand the demands of a standard and accept them. In other words, managers should not be spending all their time in checking on how well subordinates are doing.