Have you ever seen a CEO himself writing the accounts of a company? He only reviews the financial statements, he does not prepare them. He delegates all such clerical and routine tasks to his team. Delegation is one of the most important functions of organising. Let us take a look.
What is Delegation?
You must have an idea by now, that delegation somewhat relates to transfer of authority. Indeed, delegation is the downward transfer of authority from a superior to a subordinate. This is important because the superior cannot look after all the processes. Also, this helps him manage his work, as it is impractical for a specific superior to handle the volume of work all by himself.
The delegation of authority allows for concentration of time on more important activities in an organisation. Further, it provides a sense of responsibility, a chance to grow and exercise initiatives to whom the authority is delegated.
One important point to remember is that transfer of authority from a superior to a subordinates does not mean a transfer of accountability. Interestingly, the accountability for the tasks still resides with the superiors. Effectively, delegation involves the distribution of authority for less important jobs to subordinates accompanied by no transfer of accountability.
Elements of Delegation
We all are familiar with the word authority. Of course, authority is the power of a person to command his subordinates and take actions by the virtue of his position. In an organisation, authority differs according to job positions. This is because there exists interlinking between the job positions and levels of the organisation.
Again, authority defines the superior-subordinate relationship. According to this, the superior communicate his decisions to the subordinate, because he has the authority to do so, and expects the subordinate to comply with this decision. Although authority is inherent in the job position of a person, it also depends on the personality of the superior.
Generally, authority is highly concentrated at the top level of an organisation and reduces as we move to lower levels. In other words, the authority has a top to bottom flow i.e. superior has authority over his subordinate. Lastly, the limit or scope of authority also depends on the laws, rules and regulations of the organisation.
Delegation also involves some transfer of responsibility. Technically, responsibility is the obligation of a subordinate to properly perform a duty. Again, this arises from the subordinate-superior relation as the subordinate is responsible for a job given by his superior. A key point here is that responsibility has a bottom to top flow as the superior is always responsible to his superior.
There exists an interesting relationship between responsibility and authority, as a result of delegation. When we give an employee the responsibility for a task, we must also provide him with the necessary authority. In other words, for effective delegation, the authority must complement responsibility. If authority is more than responsibility it can lead to misuse. On the other hand, if responsibility is more than authority it will lead to the incapability of completion of the allotted tasks.
Although delegation eases out the job of superiors and has several benefits for both superior and subordinate, the superior is still accountable for the task. Accountability is the answerability for the final outcome of a job. All things considered, regardless of the delegation, we consider the superior completely answerable for the tasks. This further means that delegation involves no transfer of accountability.
Notably, accountability flows upwards i.e. a subordinate is accountable to his superior. Lastly, we generally enforce accountability through regular feedback on the extent of work accomplished.
In the light of above-mentioned elements, we can say that authority is delegated, responsibility is assumed and accountability is imposed. Also, we derive responsibility from authority and accountability from responsibility.
Importance of Delegation
Delegation provides a breathing space to managers by sharing their workload. As a result, managers can concentrate on tasks with higher priority. Further, freedom from routine work allows for exploration of new ideas.
With the help of delegation, we assign new responsibilities to employees. This allows for them to work on a domain which is different from the monotonous routine work, helping them to develop new skills and discover hidden talents. Thus, delegation leads to the development of employees by providing them to expand their area of operation and helping them to grow. Effectively, it increases their future prospects and breeds future managers.
Motivation of Employees
Through the process of delegation, superiors entrust suitable subordinates with the tasks that are assigned to them. This not only leads to the development of talent but also has various psychological benefits. This is because, the faith and trust displayed in the subordinate build his confidence and self-esteem, which ultimately drives him to work harder.
Facilitation of Growth
As mentioned, delegation provides employees with opportunities to develop and effectively trains them as better decision makers and managers. This further aids in the process of expansion of an organisation, as it already has the suitable workforce which is competent enough.
Delegation establishes the superior-subordinate relationship. Also, it directly relates to the extent and flow of authority. This is because authority determines who has to report to whom.
A Solved Example for You
Q: Delegation also leads to better coordination. Explain.
Ans: The elements of delegation help to define the powers, duties and answerability within an organisation. Effectively this eliminates the scope of duplication and overlapping of duties. This is because it provides a clear picture of the working relationships and the work being done at various levels.
This further helps in developing and maintaining effective coordination amongst the departments, levels and functions of the organisation.