Delegation is the assignment of any 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. However, the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work. Delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions, i.e. it is a shifting of decision-making authority from one organizational level to a lower one. Delegation, if properly done, is not fabrication. The opposite of effective delegation is micromanagement, where a manager provides too much input, direction, and review of delegated work. In general, delegation is good and can save money and time, help in building skills, and motivate people. On the other hand, poor delegation might cause frustration and confusion to all the involved parties. Some agents, however, do not favour a delegation and consider the power of making a decision rather burdensome.
According to Dr. Kanthi Wijesinghe, Senior Lecturer, National Institute of Education, ‘Delegation begins when the manager passes on some of his responsibilities to the subordinate. Responsibility is the work assigned to an individual’. When assigning these responsibilities to other individuals, these individuals must be willing and ready to be delegated to as well. The delegated readiness of the individuals is an important factor in determining the success of the delegation. Individuals must be prepared for delegation.
Delegating is a critical skill for supervisors at any level. Delegating involves working with an employee to establish goals, granting them sufficient authority and responsibility to achieve the goals, often giving them
(i) Substantial freedom in deciding how the goals will be achieved,
(ii) Remaining available as a resource to help them achieve the goals,
(iii) Assessing the quality of their effort and attainment of the goals,
(iv) Addressing performance issues and/or rewarding their performance. Ultimately, the supervisor retains responsibility for the attainment of the goals, but chooses to achieve the goals by delegating to someone else.
Delegating is different than work directing. Work directing is telling someone what to do and how to do it. There usually is much less freedom as to how the employee does the task, and many times is much less ownership, participation and learning on the part of the employee, as well.
Delegation can sometimes be a major challenge for new supervisors to learn because they are concerned about giving up control or struggling to have confidence in the abilities of others. Supervisors that can effectively delegate can free up a great deal of their own time, help their direct reports to cultivate expertise in learning, and can develop their own leadership skills — skills that are critical for problem solving, goal attainment and learning.
The Process of delegation
- Assignment of authority
- Assignment of task
- Creation of responsibility
- Creation of accountability
Decentralization is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group. Concepts of decentralization have been applied to group dynamics and management science in private businesses and organizations, political science, law and public administration, economics, money and technology.