Delegation is essentially a power sharing process in which individual managers transfer part of their legitimate authority to subordinates but without passing on their own ultimate responsibility for the completion of the overall task which has been entrusted to them by their own superiors.
Delegation does not come easy to most managers. It takes time, effort and confidence in one’s team members to explain what is wanted and then let them go away and do it, whilst trusting that they will not disappoint you.
Factors that influence a manager’s decision to delegate authority:
• Delegation relieves senior managers of less important or less immediate responsibilities in order to concentrate on more important duties. The degree of pressure thus influences a decision to delegate.
• The degree to which the manager feels able to cope with the risks associated with delegation. He will face the consequences of actions of juniors.
• The capabilities and experience of the sub-ordinates.
• An assessment of how much benefit the subordinate will obtain from being given increased responsibility. Delegation may be good for individual growth and morale.
• The cost involved in the work to be delegated i.e. financial cost or reputation with customer. It is good not to risk losing customers and also to weigh the cost of a mistake by a subordinate.
• The amount of help available to the subordinate from colleagues.
• The intention to use the opportunity to delegate as part of the subordinates planned development at work. Delegation helps to enrich individual’s jobs.
• The desire of the manager to motivate subordinates and improve morale.
• The urgency of the task
• The sensitivity or confidentiality that should be maintained.
BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE DELEGATION
• Desire to retain personal control over work hence unwillingness to delegate.
• Fear that the subordinates may be so successful that the superior’s own job may be threatened.
• Inability of busy managers to see the need to delegate.
• Inability to make time to brief subordinates and have a planned delegation.
• Unwillingness of subordinates to carry additional responsibilities.
• Insufficient training to enable subordinates to be adequately prepared to accept greater responsibilities.
• Complexity of work. This limits the number of people who are able to carry it out safely and correctly.
• Uncertain nature of work e.g. technical or scientific research and development requires experienced staff.
• A feeling of inadequacy – a manager who is not competent fears that they will expose their lack of skill through delegation.
• Negative personal attitudes – some managers lack confidence and trust in subordinates.
• Unwillingness to let go – managers who are unwilling to part with some of their authority find it difficult to delegate.
• Unwillingness to let others make mistakes – some managers don’t see mistakes as part of learning and fear being let down by subordinates.