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Definition and importance of management Functions of management Managerial roles Evolution of management thought Types of management environment
Meaning and importance of planning Principles of planning Purpose of planning Types of plans Planning tools Process of planning Planning challenges Making plans effective Management by objectives
Meaning and Importance of Organizing Structure and Designs of Organizations Principles of Organizing Process of Organizing Delegation Coordination Centralization and Decentralization Informal Organizations
Meaning and Importance of Staffing Human Resource Planning Recruitment and Selection Training and Development Performance Management Reward Management Separation
Meaning and Importance of Directing Leadership Motivation Communication Group Dynamics Conflict Management
Meaning and Importance of Controlling Elements of Control Characteristics of Effective Controls Control Process Role of Control in an Organization Tools of Controlling
Overview of Strategic Management SWOT Analysis Strategy Formulation Strategy Implementation Strategy Evaluation
Organization Culture Ethics and Social Responsibility Managing Innovation and Change Diversity and Inclusion Corporate Governance Globalization
Principles and Practices of Management
About Lesson

In simple words, to delegate means to entrust authority to a subordinate in certain defined areas and to make him responsible for results.

The main features of delegation

  1. Delegation occurs when a manager grants some rights to a subordinate.
  2. A manager cannot delegate authority unless he himself possesses the authority.
  3. A manager never delegates all his authority to subordinates. He transfers only a part of his authority.
  4. Delegation does not imply reduction in the status of a manager. The manager retains the right to exercise control over the subordinates. A manager can reduce, enhance or take back the delegated authority.
  5. Delegation never means abdication of responsibility. No manager can avoid his responsibility by delegating authority to subordinates.

Need for delegation

  1. Delegation enables a manager to distribute his work load among his subordinates. Through delegation an executive can transfer routine work to subordinates and thereby concentrate on more important tasks.
  2. Delegation pushes authority near the point of action. As a result decisions can be taken more quickly and without referring to higher authorities.
  3. Delegation helps to improve the motivation and morale of subordinates. It helps to satisfy their needs for recognition and responsibility.
  4. Delegation is a means of training and developing subordinate executives. They acquire skills through experience.
  5. Delegation facilitates the growth and expansion of the organization. In the absence of delegation, a firm cannot expand and grow.

Elements (process) of delegation

The process of delegation involves the following steps:

  1. Assignment of duties. A manager defines the duties or tasks to be performed by his subordinates. Before assigning duties to subordinates, an executive subdivides his job and allocates a part of it to each subordinate. He also defines the results expected of subordinates.
  2. Granting authority. An executive then confers on his subordinates the rights necessary to perform the duties assigned to them. Subordinates are authorized to use resources, to take decisions, to represent the superior, etc.
  3. Excavation of responsibility. Excavation of responsibility implies creating an obligation and to hold the subordinates accountable for results.

Principles of delegation                                                          

Delegation is essentially an art but it is based on certain principles. These principles serve as broad guides to the manager who wants to delegate authority.

  1. Functional definitions. The functions to be performed by a subordinate must be defined clearly and precisely. The limits of authority of every subordinate should also be clearly defined.
  2. Unity of command. Every subordinate must at a time receive orders and be accountable to only one superior. No individual can serve more than one boss at the same time.
  3. Delegation by results expected. Authority should be delegated according to the results expected of subordinates to know by what standards their performance will be judged.
  4. Absoluteness of responsibility. Responsibility can never be delegated. By delegating authority, a manager therefore, becomes responsible for the actions of his subordinates.
  5. Parity of authority and responsibility. Authority should be co-extensive and coterminous. It is unfair to hold a person responsible for something over which he has no authority. Responsibility without authority causes frustration, and authority without responsibility results in misuse of power.

Advantages of delegation

Delegation offers several advantages. Important among these are as follows.

  1. Basis of effective functioning.Delegation provides the basis for effective functioning of an organization. It establishes relationships thorough the organization and helps in achieving coordination of various activities in accomplishing enterprise objectives.
  2. Reduction in managerial load. Delegation relieves the manager of the need to attend to minor or routine types of duties. Thus, he enabled to devote greater attention and effort towards broader and more important responsibilities.
  3. Benefit of specialized service.Delegation enables the manager to benefit from the specialized knowledge and expertise of persons at lower levels; thus, purchasing may be delegated to the purchase manager, accounting to an accountant, legal matters to lawyers, and personnel functions to a personnel manager.
  4. Efficient running of branches. In the modern world, where a business rarely confines its activities to a single place, only delegation can provide the key to smooth and efficient running of the various branches of the business at places far and near.
  5. Aid to employee development. Delegation enables the employees of business to develop their capabilities to undertake new and more challenging jobs. Also, it promotes job satisfaction and contributes to high employee morale.
  6. Aid to expansion and diversification of business. With its employees fully trained in decision making in various fields, the business can confidently undertake expansion and diversification of its activities because, it will already have a competent team of contented workers to take on new responsibilities.

Why managers do not delegate

  1. Feeling of superiority. A Manager may have a feeling that his subordinates are not capable enough to do any work without close supervision. He may therefore concentrate all decision-making in his hands.
  2. Habit pattern.  If as a result of practice of close supervision, the manager has developed personal contact with all aspects of the work, he may avoid delegation of authority so as to sustain the deep-seated habit pattern.
  3. Fear of exposure.  If a manager is himself not competent to plan ahead and decide which task should be delegated to whom, he may avoid delegation of authority, because doing so will expose him for what he is an incompetent and disorganized person.
  4. Feeling of indispensability. If a manager has an inflated sense of his own worth, and wants others to realize his importance, he may not delegate authority such that everyone around him is dependent on him for decision-making.
  5. Risk avoidance. Feeling of insecurity may be a major reason for reluctance on the part of a manager to delegate authority.
  6. Loss of importance. A manager may feel that delegation of authority to subordinates may lead to diminution of his own authority, and divest him of the importance enjoyed by him as the centre of all authority.

Why subordinates do not accept delegation

Subordinates are reluctant to accept delegation of authority for the following reasons:

  1. Insecurity. If subordinates are afraid of accepting risk and responsibility, they may avoid delegation and he content with the superior making all the decisions. They consider it safer to carry out the decisions handed down to them by superiors than to make decisions themselves.
  2. Fear of criticism. Subordinates’ reluctance to accept delegation of authority may also be due to fear or criticism for mistakes. They may have a fear that even the slightest mistake on their part may lead to their dismissal from service.
  3. Inadequacy of information and resources. Subordinates may avoid acceptance of delegation of authority also because of a lurking fear that adequate information and resources may not be available to them to carry out their decisions.
  4. Lack of self-confidence. Sometimes, subordinates may avoid acceptance of delegation due to lack of confidence in their capability to discharge new responsibilities.
  5. Inadequate incentives.  If delegation of authority is not accompanied by suitable incentives, subordinates may not be motivated to accept it willingly.

Steps to make Delegation Effective

The following are the guidelines based on classical principles, to make delegation effective and productive of the desired results.

  1. Determination of specific goals. The basic purpose of delegation is to facilitate accomplishment of the stated objectives.  The objectives should be clearly defined and, where possible stated in quantitative terms.
  2. Accountability. Every position in the organization structure should be assigned specific tasks, as also individuals or groups who are to be held accountable for the accomplishment of those tasks.
  3. Authority and responsibility. Individuals and groups will be able to carry out their tasks efficiently only if they are delegated sufficient authority for the purpose.  If they lack adequate authority, they would not be able to accomplish the results and in that case it would be futile to hold them accountable for an inadequate performance.
  4. Chain of command. Delegation of authority can be effective only when everyone in the organization knows precisely where he stands in relation to others.
  5. Unity of command.The unity of command principle stipulates that each person should be answerable to only one superior.  If he is accountable to more than one superior, he may be consulted as to whom he is accountable, and whose instructions he should follow.
  6. Motivation. There will be greater willingness to accept delegation of authority and assignment of responsibility if it is accompanied by adequate monetary and non-monetary incentive such as higher wages, status, etc.
  7. Training. Subordinates should be properly trained in accomplishing delegated jobs.  Training should cover all aspects of the assigned task and lead to greater morale, self-confidence and effective leadership.
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