Delegation of Power

Delegation of Power

 Delegation of power (DOP) is also known as ‘Delegation of Authority’ (DOA). It is one of the vital processes for any organization. It is inevitable along with the expansion and growth of the organization. Delegation means assigning of certain responsibilities along with the necessary authority by the management of the organization to the employees. Delegation does not mean surrender of authority by the management. It only means transfer of certain responsibilities to the employees and giving them the required authority, which is necessary for the discharge of the responsibility properly.

DOP is defined in many ways. Some of the definitions are given below.

  • “Delegation means assigning work to the others and giving them authority to do so”
  • “Delegation takes place when one person gives another the right to perform work on his behalf and in his name and the second person accepts a corresponding duty or obligation to do that is required of him.
  • “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.
  • “Delegation is the assignment of responsibility or authority to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities. It is one of the core concepts of management leadership.”
  • “Delegation of authority can be defined as subdivision and sub-allocation of powers to the subordinates in order to achieve effective results.”

 Characteristics of delegation of power

The following are the characteristics of DOP.

  • It involves transfer not surrendering of authority.
  • It is a process of sharing work, granting authority and creating accountability.
  • Delegation takes place at all the levels, where superior – subordinate relationship exists.
  • Delegation is possible only when the delegator has the authority.
  • Person who has been delegated with the power is not permitted to delegate the granted authority further.
  • Manager never delegates the total authority to the subordinates.
  • Delegation is not abdication, ultimately the responsibility for proper discharge of authority and completion of task remains with the delegator.
  • Authority once delegated can be withdrawn or revoked by the delegator.

Elements of delegation of power

There are three important elements that are involved in the DOP. These are (i) authority, (ii) responsibility, and (iii) accountability. Authority is the legal right of the management to command the employees while the responsibility relates to the duties for completion of the assigned task. Accountability is the obligation of the employees to carry out the duties as per standards of performance. These three elements are explained below.

  • Authority – In an organization, authority is normally 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 is to be well defined. Authority is the right to give commands, orders and get the things done. The level of authority is commensurate with the employee’s level in the management hierarchy. Top level management has the greatest authority and the authority go on reducing from top to bottom. Authority is always accompanied with an equal amount of responsibility. Delegating the authority to someone else does not imply escaping from accountability. Accountability still rest with the person having the utmost authority.
  • Responsibility – It is termed as the duty of an employee to complete the assigned tasks. The employee is responsible for an assigned job if he is answerable in case of non accomplishment of the job. Responsibility usually comes with adequate authority. In case there is inadequate authority then it leads to discontent and dissatisfaction amongst the employees. Responsibility gives a sense of accomplishment on successful completion of the job.
  • Accountability – It means being answerable for the end result. It cannot be escaped. Neither can it be delegated. It arises from responsibility. Accountability calls for giving explanations for any variance in the actual performance from the expectations set. Accountability makes the employee to be innovative and more focused on job completion.

Elements of delegation of power is shown in Fig 1.

delegation of powerFig 1 Elements of delegation of power

DOP is the basis of management and the employee relationship. For a proper DOP the management of the organization is to work in a system and is required to perform the following steps.

  • Assignment of tasks and duties- The management first needs to define the task and duties of the employees. It also has to define the result expected from the employees. Clarity of duty as well as result expected is the first step for an effective and proper DOP.
  • Granting of authority – Subdivision of authority takes place when the management divides and shares the authority with the employees for the purpose of accomplishment of the assigned tasks. Employees assigned with the tasks and duties need to have enough independence to carry the task given. The subdivision of powers is very important to get effective results.
  • Creating responsibility and accountability – The delegation process does not end once powers are given to the employees. Employees at the same time have to be obligatory towards the duties assigned to them. Responsibility is said to be the factor or obligation of the employees to carry out the job to the best of their abilities. Responsibility is very important and it gives effectiveness to the authority. At the same time, responsibility is absolute and cannot be shifted. Accountability, on the other hand, is the obligation of the employees to carry out the job as per the standards of performance. Therefore, it is said that authority is delegated, responsibility is created and accountability is imposed. Accountability arises out of responsibility and responsibility arises out of authority. With every authority comes with it the responsibility and accountability attached to it.

 Importance of delegation of power

DOP is a very function of the management for achieving success. DOP is needed in every organization which is run professionally and efficiently. The following indicates the importance of DOP.

  • Since the jobs and responsibilities get distributed, it helps the management to be more effective in discharge of its responsibilities.
  • DOP results in achieving higher efficiency in the organization.
  • DOP leads to division of work and specialization which is very important and facilitates the organizational growth.
  • DOP establishes management employee relationship which is the basis for hierarchy in the management. The extent of power delegated to the employees decides who will report to whom, and the power at each job position forms the management hierarchy.
  • DOP promotes motivation of the employees since delegation indicates confidence of management in the employees and the employees get feeling of self- importance and recognition.
  • DOP helps in the development of employees since making decisions and solving problems enable them to develop the managerial skills.
  • In delegation systematically responsibility and authority is divided and employees are made answerable for non-completion of task. This systematic division of work gives clear pictures of the work allotted to each employee and there is no duplication of work clarity in duties assigned and reporting relationship. This brings effective coordination in the organization.
  • In the process of delegation, the management shares its responsibilities and work with the employees which help the management to reduce its work load. With the process of delegation the management passes all the routine work to the employees and concentrates on important work. Without delegation management is overburdened with the work.
  • In the delegation process since the management delegate authority to the employees, an atmosphere of trust is created which helps in the relationship between the management and the employees.


Obstacles in the effective implementation of DOP

The obstacles and barriers which come in the way of implementation of effective DOP usually comes from the following three sources.

  • Management – The management may be reluctant to delegate because the organization structure may be disorganized and it may not have confidence on the abilities of the employees to take up the responsibilities. Management may also not delegates the powers if it feels that the employees are more intelligent and smart. DOP also may not take place if there is distrust between the management and the employees.
  • Employees – Barriers in the implementation of DOP comes if the employees are used to spoon feeding culture and are habitually dependent on their superiors. They are inexperienced and are bogged down by the fear of failure and consequently reprimand and criticism. Employees may put obstructions to DOP if there are lack of incentives for accepting additional responsibilities or if they are already over burdened with the work. Employees may not be happy with the DOP if the authority is not given commensurate with the responsibility.
  • Organization – There can be organizational reasons for the implementation of DOP. These reasons include (i) no precedence in the organization for DOP, (ii) management believes in the centralized management philosophy, and (iii) the organization size is small with a few employees only.

Leave a Comment