Delegation of Authority

When we talk about the functioning of a business, you will notice that the management themselves never perform all the tasks around the firm. In fact, it is often said that the first rule of management is delegation. DO not try and do everything by yourself, because you cannot. So let us learn more about the meaning and elements of the delegation of authority.

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Delegation of Authority

The delegation of authority is the process by which a manager divides and assigns work to his subordinates. The manager himself only performs the tasks that require his special talents and expertize.

The rest of the work and its responsibility he will divide and delegate to his subordinates. Along with the responsibilities the manager will also share the authority, i.e. the power that enables the subordinates to carry out the tasks.

In the delegation of authority, the sharing of authority is downwards in the management structure. The manager cannot accomplish all tasks by himself, so he assigns the responsibilities to his subordinates.

This will reduce the work burden of the manager. The manager will not give up all his authority, he will only delegate that much authority that the subordinate can fulfill his responsibilities and accomplish his tasks efficiently.

Delegation of Authority

Elements of Delegation of Authority

When we talk about the delegation of any authority in an organization, there are three main elements of such delegation. Let us take a look at them in some detail.

1] Responsibility

A manager will assign some specific work or task to his subordinate. Thus he is assigning his team-member or subordinate with some responsibilities.

It is not the job of this subordinate to work efficiently and use his mental and physical capacity to accomplish the task and hence fulfill his responsibility.

So a manager can only assign these responsibilities to his subordinates. If he fails to carry out the tasks correctly then the blame falls on the manager himself. This means in an organization responsibility flows upwards.

Learn more about Principles and Barrier of Delegation here in detail.

2] Authority

Now if the subordinate has to fulfill his responsibility he will need the tools to do so. One of these tools is the authority that comes with responsibility.

This is the power to take certain decisions in order to accomplish tasks. So when the manager will delegate the work, he also delegates the authority.

This will allow the subordinates to take independent decisions needed to finish the tasks efficiently and in a timely manner.

One point to note is that the authority must be equal to responsibility. The authority must be sufficient to complete the work efficiently. And in the organizational structure authority also increases as we go up the chain of command, i.e. flows upwards.

3] Accountability 

Once the manager delegates the work and the authority, he needs to check on the work of his subordinates. He is accountable for the work done by his subordinates.

Unlike authority, accountability cannot be delegated. So the incapability of the subordinate to complete the task satisfactorily will be the manager’s fault.

Solved Question for You

Q: Accountability flows ____ in the organizational structure

  1. upwards
  2. downwards
  3. neither
  4. both

Ans: The correct option is A. The subordinates are accountable to their manager, the manager is accountable to his superior and so it goes on. So the accountability flows upwards in an organization.

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