Effective Delegation

It takes two parties for delegation to be effective-a superior willing to delegate and give his subordinates real freedom to achieve delegated tasks and a subordinate willing to assume added responsibilities, develop solutions to problems independently and learn through the, painful though, process of trial and error. The barriers to delegation, as we have seen, are purely psychological and can be reduced through improved communication between managers and subordinates leading to better understanding. The following guidelines have been advanced by different writers to help managers delegate effectively.

The Subordinate 

1.         Select subordinates in the light of the task to be performed. Provide guidance, help and information to them. Maintain open lines of communication.

2.         Do not be overawed by the errors committed by subordinates. Remove the elements of fear and frustration. Allow them to learn through mistakes. One does not learn to play tennis/cricket by reading a book. Require completed work.

3.         Allow the subordinates to see the big picture. The subordinate needs to know why his work is both necessary and important.

4.         Provide sufficient authority to subordinates for accomplishing goal assignments.

5.         Reward acceptance of responsibility. Perspiration does not go very far without a little inspiration.

The Organization Culture

  1. Create an atmosphere of trust and risk taking.
  2. Use constructive criticism to help the subordinate grow.
  3. All delegations should be in writing.

The Authority Structure 

1.                            Equate authority with responsibility; too much authority may be abused; too little authority may frustrate the subordinates.

2.                            Restrain any inclination to override, interfere with or undermine the delegation. 

The Control Systems

  1. Prevent illegitimate usurpation of authority by establishing broad controls.
  2. Provide standards so that the subordinate can measure and evaluate his performance against the standard.

It would seem easy and simple to delegate the task to subordinates observing the above guidelines. But as rightly pointed out by Robert Fulmer, delegation is almost never simple. It is in fact, a skill that separates men from the boys in management. Delegation demands a closer look at all the contingent factors like size, task complexity, costliness of the decision, organizational culture, qualities of subordinates etc. The subordinate must be willing to make a determined effort and the supervisor must be willing to extend freedom and cooperation, in tum. Koontz and 0′ Donnell have listed some personal qualities that can contribute to effective delegation. An effective delegator should: 

  • Give other peoples’ ideas a chance.
  • Allow subordinates to take decisions independently.
  • Be a patient counselor and not a ‘hovering hawk’.
  • Repose confidence and trust in subordinates.
  • Know how to use controls judiciously.