Delegation of authority

Traditionally, delegation is used to describe the act of handing off specific tasks or responsibilities. I think a more powerful form of delegation is when decisions, or the ability to influence decisions, are distributed.
This can happen in meetings or group discussions. When the leader or manager is asked “So, how are we going to solve this problem?”, he has the chance to hand that power over to someone else. “Well, Sally, you’re our best database designer. What do you think we should do here?”.

A manager alone cannot perform all the tasks assigned to him. In order to meet the targets, the manager should delegate authority. Delegation of Authority means division of authority and powers downwards to the subordinate. Delegation is about entrusting someone else to do parts of your job. Delegation of authority can be defined as subdivision and sub-allocation of powers to the subordinates in order to achieve effective results.

Delegation of authority is a process in which the authority and powers are divided and shared amongst the subordinates. When the work of a manager gets beyond his capacity, there should be some system of sharing the work. This is how delegation of authority becomes an important tool in organization function. Through delegation, a manager, in fact, is multiplying himself by dividing/multiplying his work with the subordinates. The importance of delegation can be justified by –

– Through delegation, a manager is able to divide the work and allocate it to the subordinates. This helps in reducing his work load so that he can work on important areas such as – planning, business analysis etc.
With the reduction of load on superior, he can concentrate his energy on important and critical issues of concern. This way he is able to bring effectiveness in his work as well in the work unit. This effectivity helps a manager to prove his ability and skills in the best manner.

– Delegation of authority is the ground on which the superior-subordinate relationship stands. An organization functions as the authority flows from top level to bottom. This in fact shows that through delegation, the superior-subordinate relationship become meaningful. The flow of authority is from top to bottom which is a way of achieving results.

Delegation of authority in a way gives enough room and space to the subordinates to flourish their abilities and skill. Through delegating powers, the subordinates get a feeling of importance. They get motivated to work and this motivation provides appropriate results to a concern. Job satisfaction is an important criterion to bring stability and soundness in the relationship between superior and subordinates. Delegation also helps in breaking the monotony of the subordinates so that they can be more creative and efficient. Delegation of authority is not only helpful to the subordinates but it also helps the managers to develop their talents and skills. Since the manager get enough time through delegation to concentrate on important issues, their decision-making gets strong and in a way they can flourish the talents which are required in a manager. Through granting powers and getting the work done, helps the manager to attain communication skills, supervision and guidance, effective motivation and the leadership traits are flourished. Therefore it is only through delegation, a manager can be tested on his traits.

Delegation of authority is help to both superior and subordinates. This, in a way, gives stability to a concern’s working. With effective results, a concern can think of creating more departments and divisions flow working. This will require creation of more managers which can be fulfilled by shifting the experienced, skilled managers to these positions. This helps in both virtual as well as horizontal growth which is very important for a concern’s stability.
Therefore, from the above points, we can justify that delegation is not just a process but it is a way by which manager multiples himself and is able to bring stability, ability and soundness to a concern.

Elements of Delegation

Authority – in context of a business organization, authority can be defined as the power and right of a person to use and allocate the resources efficiently, to take decisions and to give orders so as to achieve the organizational objectives. Authority must be well- defined. All people who have the authority should know what is the scope of their authority is and they shouldn’t misutilize it. Authority is the right to give commands, orders and get the things done. The top level management has greatest authority. Authority always flows from top to bottom. It explains how a superior gets work done from his subordinate by clearly explaining what is expected of him and how he should go about it. Authority should be accompanied with an equal amount of responsibility. Delegating the authority to someone else doesn’t imply escaping from accountability. Accountability still rest with the person having the utmost authority.

Responsibility – is the duty of the person to complete the task assigned to him. A person who is given the responsibility should ensure that he accomplishes the tasks assigned to him. If the tasks for which he was held responsible are not completed, then he should not give explanations or excuses. Responsibility without adequate authority leads to discontent and dissatisfaction among the person. Responsibility flows from bottom to top. The middle level and lower level management holds more responsibility. The person held responsible for a job is answerable for it. If he performs the tasks assigned as expected, he is bound for praises. While if he doesn’t accomplish tasks assigned as expected, then also he is answerable for that.

Accountability – means giving explanations for any variance in the actual performance from the expectations set. Accountability can not be delegated. For example, if ’A’ is given a task with sufficient authority, and ’A’ delegates this task to B and asks him to ensure that task is done well, responsibility rest with ’B’, but accountability still rest with ’A’. The top level management is most accountable. Being accountable means being innovative as the person will think beyond his scope of job. Accountability, in short, means being answerable for the end result. Accountability can’t be escaped. It arises from responsibility.
For achieving delegation, a manager has to work in a system and has to perform following steps : –

Authority is the legal right of person or superior to command his subordinates while accountability is the obligation of individual to carry out his duties as per standards of performance Authority flows from the superiors to subordinates,in which orders and instructions are given to subordinates to complete the task. It is only through authority, a manager exercises control. In a way through exercising the control the superior is demanding accountability from subordinates. If the marketing manager directs the sales supervisor for 50 units of sale to be undertaken in a month. If the above standards are not accomplished, it is the marketing manager who will be accountable to the chief executive officer. Therefore, we can say that authority flows from top to bottom and responsibility flows from bottom to top. Accountability is a result of responsibility and responsibility is result of authority. Therefore, for every authority an equal accountability is attached.

Granting of authority

As long as this isn’t done unfairly (say, in the middle of a tense VP review meeting, during a failing demo, when Sally has no idea she’s going to be expected to answer any questions), this sets a tone of collaboration. People can be free to acknowledge each other’s expertise, and they will yield authority appropriately. Of course, for the project manager, nothing is risked. If Sally’s suggestions aren’t good, the discussion continues. But without that first question, the discussion may never happen at all.

Of course, delegation also extends to explicit handoffs of authority. By publicly declaring that a work area or feature is going to be managed by someone, a manager transfers her authority to that person. It’s important that delegations are done with enough visibility that everyone who needs to see the transfer actually sees it. Any time I handed off responsibility to someone who worked for me, I made sure to contact every programmer or tester who would be affected so that they would know that whatever power and authority I had for that work would be transferred to someone else.

Of course, sometimes people don’t want to see things delegated, and it’s the leader’s job to use her power to enforce it. John, a project manager on my team, was ready to take on more responsibility. Many managers have trouble delegating. They rose in seniority because of their ability to get work done on their own, and leading requires a different balance of skills than being an individual contributor. These managers are usually held back by the fear that they don’t have
enough control.

Of course, this is a trap because if that fear drives their decisions, they can never learn to trust anyone, and without trust, leadership is impossible. Sometimes the solution is a compromise. The manager just has to discuss, with the
member of her team at the moment of delegation, what considerations the delegate is expected to make. (“John, I’m worried about Steve. He’s been late on every estimate. So, pay extra attention to that, OK?”) By setting expectations around assignments, leaders transfer some of the experience and guidance, and probably increase the odds of success.

The inability to delegate has led to the downfall of many executives – from the top-notch managers to the first-line supervisors. Successful businesses, regardless of size, encourage not only their managers and supervisors but also others to master the art of delegation. Historically, delegation has been a vertical process, with managers delegating to subordinates in a clearly defined hierarchical structure. Today’s successful businesses are emphasizing both horizontal and vertical delegation. With the growing emphasis on teamwork, the ability to influence and delegate to others over whom you have no direct control is critical to the team’s success.

Whether delegating vertically or horizontally, delegation must be accompanied by effective coaching. Delegation will not be effective unless managers and other designated supervisors and coaches work with employees to help them develop the skills needed to get the job done. Effective delegation also requires good communication and a high degree of trust between the delegator and the delegatee.

Delegation is not task assignment. Task assignment is simply assigning work to an individual within the duties and responsibilities of his position. Delegation, on the other hand, involves the manager giving someone the responsibility and authority to do something that is normally part of the manager’s job.

Delegation is not “dumping.” Managers should take special care to make sure that the employee does not think he is trying to “dump” unpleasant assignments on him. If delegation is not done properly, employees feel put upon and resent what they perceive as ‘ I’ve to follow the boss’s order ’.

Delegation is not abdication. The manager still has the ultimate accountability for the assignment. That’s why it is important for you to establish appropriate controls and checkpoints to monitor progress. Besides, managers should give delegatees the appropriate authority to act along with clear expectations including any boundaries or criteria. The manager, however, should try to avoid prescribing HOW the assignment should be completed.