Top Menu

Elements of Delegation: Meaning, Process and Comparison

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Everything you need to know about the elements of delegation. Sharing of work and authority, between a manager and his subordinates, is known as delegation.

The process of delegation enables a person to assign work task to his subordinate and give them necessary authority to accomplish it successfully.

It helps in completing the work in time, reduces the workload of managers and motivates and develops subordinates.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

In other words, delegation is a process that enables a person to assign a work to others and delegate them with adequate authority to do it.

Delegation of authority consists of three elements:- 1. Responsibility 2. Authority and 3. Accountability.


What are the Three Elements of Delegation: Responsibility, Authority and Accountability

Elements of Delegation – Responsibility, Authority and Accountability (With Features and Differences)

There are three elements of delegation, i.e., Responsibility, Authority and Accountability.

The detailed description of which are as follows:

(1) Responsibility:

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Responsibility is the obligation of a subordinate to properly perform the assigned duty. When a superior assigns a job to his subordinate it becomes the responsibility of the subordinate to complete that job.

This means that the word responsibility comes into play only after the job has been assigned. Thus, to assign job can be called to assign responsibility.

Features:

(i) Responsibility can be assigned to some other person.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

(ii) The essence of responsibility is to be dutiful.

(iii) It gets originated because of superior-subordinate relationship.

(2) Authority:

Authority means the power to take decisions. Decision can be related to the use of resources, and to do or not to do something.

Features:

(i) Authority can be assigned (delegated) to some other person.

(ii) It is related to the post (with the change of post, even authorities change).

(iii) It makes implementation of decisions possible.

(iv) Authority is the key to a managerial job, because a post without authority cannot be a managerial post.

Difference between Authority and Responsibility:

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Authority:

1. Meaning – Power to take decision.

2. Delegation – Authority can be delegated.

3. Origin – It originates because of formal positions in an organisation.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

4. Essence – The essence of authority is to get decisions implemented.

Responsibility:

1. Meaning – The assigned job.

2. Delegation – ‘Responsibility for’ can be delegated but the responsibility to’ (which is also known ultimate responsibility or accountability) cannot be delegated.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

3. Origin – It originates because of senior- subordinate relationship.

4. Essence – The essence of responsibility is to obey the duties.

(3) Accountability:

Accountability means the answerability of the subordinate to his superior for his work performance. In other words, when a superior assigns job / work or the responsibility to his subordinates, simultaneously he gives authority to them which makes workers (subordinates) accountable to their superior for the work- performance.

Features:

ADVERTISEMENTS:

(i) Accountability cannot be delegated to some other person.

(ii) It is only towards the delegators.

(iii) Its base is senior-subordinate relationship.

(iv) It originates because of delegation of authority.

Difference between Responsibility and Accountability:

Responsibility:

1. Meaning – The assigned job

2. Delegation – Responsibility (Responsibility for) or the work can be delegated to some other person.

3. Origin – Relationship between senior and subordinate.

Accountability:

1. Meaning – Answerable to the superior for the work performed.

2. Delegation – Accountability (Responsibility to) cannot be delegated to some other person.

3. Origin – Delegation of Authority.

Can Accountability by Delegated?

A noteworthy question arises in the context of accountability that whether an officer by delegating authority can eschew from ultimate responsibility? Thus, is he not accountable to his senior officers for the work performance of his subordinates once he has delegated authority. In other words, a senior officer of the officer in question can directly hold the latter’s subordinate accountable? All these questions will be answered in ‘No’ because only authority can be delegated and not the accountability.

For example- A Chief Manager assigns jobs to a Departmental Manager who inturn assign it to his subordinate. Departmental manager along with the assigning of the job will delegate authority but this will not terminate his accountability. He will always be answerable to his chief manager for the work-performance of his subordinates. On the basis of this, there would be no anomaly to say that just authority can be delegated but not accountability. Thus, accountability is always of the person who delegates authority.


Elements of Delegation – According to a Detailed Analysis of Louis Allen’s Definition (With Comparison)

According to Louis Allen, delegation is the entrustment of responsibility and authority to another and the creation of accountability for performance.

A detailed analysis of Louis Allen’s definition brings to light the following essential elements of delegation:

1. Authority:

Authority refers to the right of an individual to command his subordinates and to take action within the scope of his position.

The scalar chain establishes the authority, which links the various job positions at different levels of an organisation to discharge given responsibility. Authority gives managers the right to take decisions, inform people what to do and what is expected of them. Authority originates by virtue of a position. It is highest at the top management and reduces as it flows down.

It means the superior has authority over the subordinate. Authority provides managers the right to direct workforce and expect obedience. Authority determines the superior and subordinate relationship, where superior expects the subordinate to execute his decisions in accordance to the guidelines issued by him.

2. Responsibility:

Responsibility is the obligation of a subordinate to perform the assigned duty efficiently.

It arises from a superior-subordinate relationship. It binds the subordinate to perform the duty assigned to him by superior. It flows upwards i.e., a subordinate will always be responsible to his superior. Responsibility must also be given the degree of authority which is necessary to carry out the assigned job. Authority granted must commensurate with the assigned responsibility.

3. Accountability:

Accountability implies being answerable for the final outcome.

The accountability arises once the authority is delegated and responsibility is accepted & Accountability flows upwards. A subordinate is accountable to the senior for satisfactory performance of work. Accountability cannot be delegated to subordinates.

A subordinate is expected to provide regular feedback on work done and explain consequences of any errors or omissions in actions. Delegation of authority empowers an employee to discharge his/her responsibilities. Though the subordinate is accountable to the superior for his performance but the ultimate accountability lies with the superior.

To conclude we can say that authority is delegated, responsibility is accepted and accountability is imposed. The responsibility is the outcome of authority and accountability is the outcome of responsibility.

Elements of Delegation – A Comparison:

Authority:

1. Concept – It is the right to command

2. Delegation – It can be delegated to sub­ordinates.

3. Origin – It arises from formal positions of organisational structure.

4. Flow – It flows downward from superior to subordinate.

Responsibility:

1. Concept – It is an obligation to perform an assigned task.

2. Delegation – It cannot be delegated comp­letely.

3. Origin – It arises from the authority delegated.

4. Flow – It flows, upwards from a subordinate to the superior.

Accountability:

1. Concept – It is the answerability for the outcome of the assigned task.

2. Delegation – It cannot be delegated at all.

3. Origin – It arises from the responsi­bility.

4. Flow – It flows upwards from a subordinate to the superior.


Elements of Delegation

Delegation has three important elements:

1. Responsibility:

Responsibility is the activity or task entrusted by the manager to subordinates. Though delegated, the ultimate responsibility (accountability) for completion of the task rests with the manager only.

2. Authority:

To carry out the responsibility assigned, there is need for authority to spend resources, command people, issue directions and make decisions. The authority must, therefore, be delegated so that subordinates can carry out the responsibility assigned. Authority is the right to issue orders to discharge the responsibility. Authority should be communicate with responsibility. Authority more than responsibility can result in misuse of authority and less authority may not achieve the targets assigned.

3. Accountability:

When managers delegate work to subordinates, they remain accountable for accomplishment of that task. The responsibility and authority, thus, can be delegated but not accountability. Managers remain accountable for delegated tasks to their superiors. Thus, while authority flows from top to bottom, accountability flows upwards.


Elements of Delegation – Responsibility, Authority and Accountability

The process of delegation of authority involves three elements:

(i) Assignment of Responsibility – The superior entrusts some responsibility or duty to a subordinate for performance.

(ii) Granting of Authority – The superior grants authority to the subordinate to carry out the duty assigned. This may include right to use resources, spend money, engage people, etc.

(iii) Accountability for Performance – The last step in delegation is concerned with creating an obligation to carry out duty or responsibility and render an account of the results achieved through the use of delegated authority. The subordinate must be held accountable for the exercise of authority granted to him. By accepting the duties and authority, a subordinate becomes responsible to his superior.

(i) Responsibility:

Responsibility denotes the work or duties assigned to a person by virtue of his position in the organisation. It refers to the mental and physical activities which must be performed to carry out a task or duty. That means every person who performs some kind of mental or physical activities as an assigned task has responsibility. In order to enable the subordinate perform his responsibility well, the superior must clearly tell the former as to what is expected of him. In other words, the delegate must determine clearly the task or duty that is assigned to the delegate.

The duty must be expressed either in terms of function or in terms of objectives. If a subordinate is asked to control the operations of a machine, the duty is in terms of function. But if he is asked to produce a certain number of pieces of a product, the duty is in terms of target or objective. Determination of duties in terms of objectives will enable the subordinate to know by what standards his performance will be evaluated.

(ii) Authority:

Authority is the right granted to an employee to make possible the performance of work assigned. Power to procure or use raw materials, spend money, or ask for allotment of money, to hire and fire people, etc. has to be delegated to individuals to whom the work is assigned. For instance, if the Plant Manager assigns the Production Manager with the production of particular type of goods and services, he will also grant him the authority to use materials, money and machinery, hire workers and so on to fulfil the production schedule prescribed as his duty.

(iii) Accountability:

Accountability is the obligation to carry out responsibility and exercise authority in terms of performance standards established by the superior. Creation of accountability is the process of justifying the granting of authority to a subordinate for the accomplishment of a particular task.

In order to make this process effective, the standards of performance should be determined before assigning a task and should be accepted by the subordinate. An important principle of management governing this basic relationship is that of single accountability. An individual should be answerable to only one immediate superior and no more.

Accountability is a logical derivative of authority. When a subordinate is given an assignment and is granted the necessary authority to complete it, the final phase in basic organisation relationship is holding the subordinate responsible for results. In other words, the subordinate undertakes an obligation to complete the assignment by the fair use of authority and account for the discharge of responsibility assigned. This, it can be said that authority moves downward whereas accountability moves upward.


Elements of Delegation – Elements which Make Delegation Effective or Ineffective

The delegation is a double edge weapon, the more belief led to decentralisation and losing control whereas less belief in delegation creates hindrance in process effectiveness. Hence, a manager needs to use it in proper and balance manner.

Certain elements which make delegation effective or ineffective are discussed below:

1. Objective – The objective of delegation must be very clear. If a manager delegates as to follow delegation practices or as modern tool, then it may not be useful for the organisation. Before delegating, one must learn whether there is need to delegate.

2. Authority & Responsibility – The authority must accompany the responsibility to the next level. The authority delegation without responsibility may lead to ineffective use of authority. The authority must be delegated to the responsible positions only.

3. People & Relations – The people and their relation in the organisation are also the element of delegation which determines the level and effectiveness of delegation. If the subordinate does not have good relation with superior then it affects the delegation process and brings ineffectiveness.

4. Leadership style – The leadership style does matter in delegation very much. The Democratic or Free rein style of leadership believes in more delegation while Autocratic style believes very less delegation. Thus, leadership style is one of the elements contributing to delegation.

5. Environment – The environment or business climate is important to learn the changes in business conditions put forth the future challenges. Hence, the environment study helps in strategic planning to delegate the authority.


Elements of Delegation

The elements of delegation of authority involve three steps:

1. Accountability:

The last step in delegation is concerned with creating an obligation to carry out duty or responsibility and render an account of the results achieved through the use of delegated authority. The subordinate must be held accountable for the exercise of authority granted to him. By accepting the duties and authority, a subordinate becomes responsible to his superior.

2. Authority:

The superior grants authority to the subordinate to carry out the assigned task or duty. This may include right to use resources, spend money, engage people, etc.

3. Responsibility:

The superior entrusts some responsibility or duty to a subordinate.

1. Authority:

Authority is the sum of the rights entrusted to an individual to make possible the performance of the work delegated. It includes such rights or powers as that spending money, of using certain kinds of quantities of materials, of hiring and firing people. Allen talks of authority of knowledge, authority of position and legal authority. Authority of knowledge according to him is possessed generally by the staff specialists appointed by the company.

The consultants more often influence the action of persons in line by virtue of the knowledge possessed by them. Similarly, some persons acquire authority by virtue of their position. For instance, a person close to the person having line authority wields considerable authority. A Private Secretary to Managing Director or even a Staff Assistant may have no formal power and authority. Legal authority is the authority which is entrusted to a person by the law of the land.

A company, for instance, is a legal person which enjoys several rights under the Companies Act. The organizations are built on authority relationships between their members. Authority is a building force in an organization and is the key to the executive job. An executive cannot get things done through others without the right to command them.

2. Responsibility:

Responsibility represents the work or duties assigned to a person by virtue of his position in the organization. It refers to the mental and physical activities which must be performed to carry out the task or duty. That means every person who performs some kind of mental or physical activities as an assigned task has responsibility.

In order to enable the subordinates perform his responsibility well, the superior must clearly tell the former as to what is expected of him. In other words, the delegator must determine clearly the task or duty that is assigned to the delegate.

The duty must be expressed either in terms of function or in terms of objectives. If a subordinate is asked to control the operations of a machine, the duty is in terms of function. But if he is asked to produce a certain number of pieces of a product, the duty is in terms of target or objective. Determination of duties in terms of objective will enable the subordinate to know by what standards his performance will be evaluated.

According to Alwin Brown, responsibility is capable of being understood in two senses. In one, it denotes the definition of a part or role to be performed in administration. In the other, it denotes the obligation for the performance of that part. Two meanings are reciprocal.

In most circumstances, there is so little difference between the concept of the part and the concept of the obligation that it is more useful to view them as inseparably- related aspects of the same concept, and to refer to them by single term. Taken in this sense, many authors have held that responsibility cannot be delegated. But authority and responsibility are coextensive; and responsibility or duty can be delegated within the framework of authority. In fact, it is the accountability which cannot be delegated. Therefore, it is essential to make a distinction between responsibility and accountability.

Responsibility or duty implies the task assigned to a person to be completed in accordance with the standards laid down. It is his superior who has entrusted this task to him. He should not find any difficulty in expecting it because his superior knows his plus and minus points at work. He would not assign a task which the subordinate is unable to complete. In fact, he has divided and subdivided the task pertaining to this division in such a manner that each one of his subordinates gets the task of his choice.

Hence, there is no ground for the subordinate to object the duty assigned to him by his superior unless the superior has acted deliberately in an indicative manner. If he does so, there are other ways to remedy the situation.

Whenever the superior assigns any task to his subordinate, it is implied that he has delegated his responsibility. In this process, though he may hold his subordinate accountable for the task delegated to him, but he continues to be accountable to his own boss on the ground that accountability can never be delegated.

The extent of authority delegated should be commensurate with the responsibilities or duties assigned. In other words, there must be a balance between responsibility and authority. However, in practice, it is very difficult to achieve a balance between responsibility and authority.

According to McGregor, the realities of business place most managers in situations where they cannot effectively control everything that affects the results they are attempting to achieve. Uncontrollable factors include unexpected changes in consumer preferences, action of labour unions, government legislations and the fluctuations of business cycles.

The recognition of these problems does not reduce or destroy the utility of this concept. If a manager is abreast of the time, he will make allowance for the unforeseen events outside the control of the subordinate. Many factors prevent a superior to delegate sufficient authority. The risk of losing control is an important factor.

Real or presumed non-availability of qualified subordinates, lack of delegating skills and enhancement of one’s indispensability are the other factors which cause an imbalance of responsibility and authority. An effective manager is willing to delegate authority as needed to accomplish the desired objectives.

Responsibility cannot be delegated or transferred. The superior can delegate to subordinate the authority to perform and accomplish a specific job. But he cannot delegate responsibility in the sense that once duties are assigned, he is relieved for his responsibility for them. This delegation of tasks does not absolve the superior from his own responsibility for effective performance of his subordinate.

In other words, we can say that responsibility is divided into two parts at the time of delegation:

(a) Operating responsibility; and

(b) Ultimate responsibility.

The subordinate assumes only the operating responsibility for the task. The superior retains ultimate responsibility for getting the job done. If the subordinate fails to perform the job (operating responsibility), the superior is held responsible for this failure (ultimate responsibility).

To explain that the ultimate responsibility cannot be shifted or reduced by assigning duties to another. Newman cites the example of a person borrowing money from the bank and then realigning it to his son. This transaction with his son in no way reduces his own obligation and responsibility to repay the money to the bank.

Responsibility may be specific or continuing. It is specific when on being discharged by a subordinate it does not arise again. Thus, a consultant’s responsibility is specific. It ceases when the assignment is completed. The responsibility of a foreman is, however, of a continuing nature.

3. Accountability:

Accountability is a logical derivative of authority. When a subordinate is given an assignment and is granted the necessary authority to complete it, the final phase in basic organization relationship is holding the subordinate responsible for results. In other words, the subordinate undertakes an obligation to complete the assignment by the fair use of authority and account for the discharge of responsibility assigned.

Accountability is the obligation to carry out responsibility and exercise authority in terms of performance standards established by the superior. Creation of accountability is the process of justifying the granting of authority to a subordinate for the accomplishment of a particular task.

In order to make this process effective, the standards of performance should be determined before assigning a task and should be accepted by the subordinate. An important principle of management governing this basic relationship is that of single accountability. An individual should be answerable to only one immediate superior and no more.

The extent of accountability depends upon the extent of delegation of authority and responsibility. A person cannot be held answerable for the acts not assigned to him by his superior.

For instance, if the production manager is given responsibility and authority to produce a specified quantity of certain product and the personnel department is given responsibility and authority for the development of workforce, the production manager cannot be held accountable for the development of workforce. “Accountability is, by the act which creates it, of the same quality and weight as the accompanying responsibility and authority”.

Accountability cannot be Delegated:

Though it is incurred as a result of assignment of duty and conferring of authority, accountability in itself cannot be delegated. The diligent cannot abdicate responsibility. He remains accountable to his superior for that which the latter has delegated to him. Since accountability cannot be delegated, the accountability of persons higher in the hierarchy for the acts of subordinates is unconditional.


Elements of Delegation – 3 Fundamental Features of Delegation: Duties, Authority and Obligation

The process of delegation involves three basic actions—whether express or implied:

1. The delegator assigns duties, i.e., the superior indicates what the subordinate has to do.

2. The delegator grants authority, i.e., gives the subordinate the permission to do the delegated part of the work and also certain rights which are necessary for him to perform his part of the job.

3. The delegation creates an obligation, i.e., the subordinate takes on an obligation to his boss to complete the job.

Thus duties, authority and obligation are the three fundamental features of delegation. Since a clear grasp of each of these is basic to an understanding of the process of delegation, they are described briefly here.

1. Duties:

Duties may be expressed either in terms of functions or in terms of goals or results. When we say that A’s duty is to turn the lathe, we express the duty in terms of a function. On the other hand, if we say that A’s duty is to turn on his lathe a specified number of pieces per day, it is expressing his duty in terms of a target or objective.

Phrasing duty in terms of goals while delegating is better of the two because it provides psychological satisfaction to the subordinates. A man’s duties are clear to him only when he knows what activities he must undertake and what missions he must fulfil.

2. Authority:

The word authority is interpreted in many different ways by people. In the legal sense (legal authority), authority refers to the right of a person legally to take an action. Technical authority refers to the recognition of a person’s opinion in some specialised field. Ultimate authority deals with the original source from which one derives the right to take certain actions.

Operational authority is the permission to the subordinate to do certain things. Administrative authority consists of certain permissions or rights, the right to act for the company in specified areas. Authority should not in any way be confused with unlimited authority.

There are certain inherent limits to human authority which reduce administrative authority to authorisation rather than power. Besides, an administrator can exercise his authority and delegate it only within the limits set by the company policies and established procedures. When, therefore, the question of delegation arises, the administrator should be clear as to what rights are associated with the task that is to be delegated.

3. Obligation:

An obligation created in the process of delegating authority is in the nature of a moral compulsion felt by a subordinate to accomplish his assigned duties. In accepting an assignment (i.e., a delegated task), a subordinate in effect gives his promises to do his best in carrying out his duties. The subordinate’s obligation to do the task assigned makes him accountable to the delegator.


Elements of Delegation – Assignment of Responsibility, Grant of Authority and Creation of Accountability

Delegation involves following three elements:

1. Assignment of Responsibility:

The first step in delegation is the assignment of work or duty to the subordinate i.e., delegation of authority. The superior asks his subordinate to perform a particular task in a given period of time. It is the description of the role assigned to the subordinate. Duties in terms of functions or tasks to be performed constitute the basis of delegation process.

2. Grant of Authority:

The grant of authority is the second element of delegation. The delegator grants authority to the subordinates so that the assigned task is accomplished. The delegation of responsibility with authority is meaningless. The subordinate can only accomplish the work when he has the authority required for completing that task. Authority is derived from responsibility.

It is the power, to order or command, delegated from superior, to enable the subordinate to discharge his responsibility. The superior may transfer it to enable the subordinate to complete his assigned work properly. There should be a balance between authority and responsibility. The superior should delegate sufficient authority to do the assigned work.

3. Creation of Accountability:

Accountability is the obligation of a subordinate to perform the duties assigned to him. The delegation creates an obligation on the subordinate to accomplish the task assigned to him by the superior. When a work is assigned and authority is delegated then the accountability is the by-product of this process. The authority is transferred so that a particular work is completed as desired.

This means that delegator has to ensure the completion of assigned work. Authority flows downward whereas accountability flows upward. The downward flow of authority and upward flow of accountability must have parity at each position of management hierarchy. The subordinate should be made accountable to only one superior. Single accountability improves work and discipline.


Elements of Delegation – Assignment of ‘Duty’ ‘Task ‘ or ‘Responsibility’, Delegation of Authority and Accountability for Failure

(1) Assignment of ‘Duty’ ‘Task ‘ or ‘Responsibility’:

A manager cannot himself perform all the tasks and responsibility assigned to him by his superiors. It becomes necessary for him to assign certain tasks and responsibility to his subordinates. Of course, before assigning any task or responsibility to a particular subordinate(s), he is expected to satisfy himself that the subordinate(s) is competent, willing and experienced enough to perform the task or responsibility.

A manager does not assign all his tasks to his subordinates. There are certain tasks and responsi­bility which he alone can perform because of his position in the organization, or because he alone has the expertise to perform those tasks or responsibility.

However, one must remember that assignment of tasks or responsibility and delegation of matching authority to subordinates does not free the manager of his responsibility and account­ability for performance of those tasks or responsibility. He will continue to be responsible and accountable for the performance of those tasks or responsibility, whether he performs them all by himself or gets them performed by his subordinates.

(2) Delegation of Authority:

If a manager assigns any tasks or responsibility to his subordinates, he should also delegate to them matching authority to use and control the resources that would enable them to perform those tasks and responsibility. If he does not do so, he will only handicap the subordinates who, in the absence of authority to use and control the resources that would enable him to perform the assigned task or responsibility, would inevitably feel helpless and frustrated.

(3) Accountability for Failure or Deficiency of Performance:

Assignment of tasks or responsibility to a subordinate and delegation of matching authority to him to use and control resources to perform those tasks or responsibility, will not complete the delegation process.

The process will be complete only when the subordinate concerned is made to account for performance of the task—he must account for why the task assigned to him was not performed as desired—was it that he lacked ability to perform the task, or failed to motivate the persons working under him to perform the tasks or responsibility, or was it that he failed to exercise the authority dele­gated to him in respect of use and control of resources to perform the assigned task or responsibility?


Elements of Delegation – 3 Important Attributes of Delegation: Assigning Duties, Delegating Authority and Creating Responsibility or Obligation

Delegation is the assignment of work to a subordinate.

Basically, it involves three elements or actions, either explicitly or implicitly:

1. Assignment of duties by the superior. Duties define the task which a person is to do. The manager indicates the work that the subordinate is required to do;

2. Grant of authority by the superior to the subordinate. This gives the subordinate the power and rights to use resources required to carry out the duties;

3. Creation of obligation or responsibility on the part of the subordinate to perform duties satisfactorily. The subordinate, by accepting the assignment, takes on an obligation to his superior to complete the job and do it well.

These three attributes or elements of delegation go together, and each depends on the others to support the whole and no two can stand alone. A clear understanding of each of these elements is necessary for mastering the process of delegation.

A brief description of each is given below:

1. Assigning Duties:

While allocating duties, an executive should know clearly what to delegate and what to retain. He should first consider the reasonable units of work and then select the most competent individual to be in charge of that work. He may express the duties either in the form of functions or in terms of goals and objectives or results. Expressing in terms of goals will probably result in more effective delegation, for the subordinate gets the mental satisfaction of being involved in fulfilling a mission through the performance of certain allotted activities.

2. Delegating Authority:

In the process of delegating authority, the executive gives permission to the subordinate to use certain rights, such as- the right to spend money, to direct the work of other people, to use raw materials, or to represent the company to outsiders. Effective delegation, however, requires that the limits of authority should be made clear to each subordinate. The superior and the subordinates should clearly understand the subordinate’s right to act, to request others to act and to discipline.

In short, they should clearly understand the limits of the authority, and it is never unlimited. Also, the superior, in delegating authority, does not “give away authority”. He only delegates a part of it, retaining ultimate authority and responsibility.

There are various degrees of delegation, some giving the delegate or subordinate broad powers but others being rather limited. Each sets a different kind of relationship with the superior who delegates. Moreover, one person rarely receives one delegation. Instead, he gets different degrees of delegation for different duties.

Keith Davis mentions 5 distinctly different degrees of delegation:

i. Authority to which no prior notice, no approval, and no reporting required;

ii. Authority to act, with reporting required, but no prior notice or approval;

iii. Authority to act only with prior notice;

iv. Authority to act only after consulting an appropriate staff adviser;

v. Authority to act only with prior approval.

3. Creating Responsibility or Obligation:

The last step in the process of delegation is the creation of an obligation on the part of the subordinates for the competent or satisfactory performance of their duties. The creation of obligation is really “assumption” of responsibility by the subordinates. By accepting the authority and by responding to it, the subordinate becomes the superior’s “delegate” and assumes the obliga­tion or responsibility to carry out the assignment and to account to the superior for his performance.

If he does not accept the assignment, delegation has been merely attempted and not made. A subordinate may accept the authority because of positive inducements or moral compul­sion or coercion. By accepting exercise of authority, an individual is able thereby to contribute to the attainment of an enterprise purpose which he recognises as being good. By accepting an exercise of authority, he may thereby attain the approbation of his fellow workers, or obtain rewards from his superior.

By accepting an exercise of authority, he may be acting in accordance with his own moral standards, or he may be responding to the qualities which he perceives in his superior. But there may be compulsion or coercion involved in this. For example, fear of losing the job, or demotion, or of social disapprobation.

If the last reason for acceptance prevails, delegation is poor. Therefore, it is necessary for the manager to remember that a subordin­ate will assume responsibility only if he receives authority to perform and take action. He should also bear in mind that when he assigns activities to his subordinates and therefore does not perform the work himself, he is still ultimately responsible for its performance. Since total responsibility remains even after delegation, we say that responsibility cannot be delegated.


Elements of Delegation – Sizing up the Work, Assignment of Duties to Subordinates, Granting of Authority to Perform Duty and Creation of Obligation

Delegation has four essential aspects or elements.

They are:

1. Sizing up the Work:

Superior has to assess his workload in terms of activities and task to be assigned to him and the result expected of him. This is because manager’s position consists of role, relationship, responsibility, authority, contribution and results expected. First he should determine which part of work he has to do by himself and next which part of his work is delegatable.

2. Assignment of Duties to Subordinates:

As the workload of a manager becomes very great, he has to necessarily allocate a part of his work to his subordinates. Delegation thus implies a prior division of work. The subordinates must be told in a clear cut manner what he is expected to do. The functions to be performed and targets to be achieved must be listed. This avoids aimless and fruitless activity on the part of subordinates.

3. Granting of Authority to Perform Duty:

Necessary authority must be granted for performing the duties assigned. If sufficient authority is not granted, the subordinate can perform duties only to the extent possible with the limited authority delegated to him.

4. Creation of Obligation:

The third stage is creation of obligation on the part of subordinates. With the allocation of duties and grant of authority to enforce performance, the subordinates become accountable for performance. Delegation is the entrustment of authority to another and the creation of accountability for performance.

A manager delegates authority and duties downward to sideways to his subordinates but he has an accountability upward to his superior. For this purpose, the delegator retains for himself some reserved authority and duties so that he can direct, regulate and control the activities undertaken by his subordinates.


Elements of Delegation – Entrustment of Responsibility, Granting of Authority and Creation of Obligation

Delegation of Authority is not only assigning some rights to subordinates, but it also involves assignment of work as well as creation of accountability.

The process of delegation involves three elements or aspects:

(i) Entrustment of responsibility or duty,

(ii) Granting of authority, and

(iii) Creation of obligation or accountability.

Different authors have used various terms to explain the process of delegation. But Louis A. Allen says that these terms clearly spelled out the process – ‘responsibility’, ‘authority’ and ‘accountability.’

It is important to describe the process through the following elements:

1. Entrustment of Responsibility or Duty:

Responsibility means the work or duties assigned to a person by’ virtue of his position in the organization. The superior must determine clearly the task or duty to be assigned to the subordinates. While assigning the work or duties, the superior should take into account the abilities and the potential of subordinates.

The superior must ensure that the subordinates understand and accept their duties. The superior must clearly tell the subordinates as to what is expected of them.

2. Granting of Authority:

Granting of right to do work or power to make an individual to perform the work. Adequate authority is given to subordinates so that they can perform their duty well, e.g., A spare part needs to be Company assigns the production manager to produce particular items of spare parts; he granted the authority to use resources, to take decision and to exercise discretion.

Adequate authority must be granted, so that the subordinates can perform the work or prescribed duties.

3. Creation of Obligation or Accountability:

According to Louis A. Allen, Accountability is the obligation to carry out responsibilities and exercise authority in terms of performance established standards. It means the subordinates are answerable for proper performance of assigned duties and for exercise of delegation of authority. The subordinates are accountable to the superior. A subordinate can be held answerable only when he receives authority from his superior to do the work.

The process of delegation is incomplete unless accountability is created. Thus, the duties or work, authority and accountability are the elements of delegation of authority. These three phases of process are interdependent. Assigned task is to be followed by granting necessary authority to subordinates so that they can perform the assigned work effectively. Granting of authority creates accountability for performance.


, , , ,

hit counter