What are the prerequisites for effective delegation?


Delegation is an art, not a science. It depends on the personality, skills, and attitudes of two actors: the delegator (one who delegates) and the delegatee (one who was delegated). The following are a few crucial conditions that must be met for effective delegation.

a) Climate of openness, trust, and confidence among employees at all levels and a culture of teamwork and cooperation.

b) The two psychological hurdles in the delegation, namely lack of faith in subordinates’ competence and fear that the subordinates may outshine them deter managers from delegating. The managers shouldn’t feel threatened that by delegating, they will be rendered unnecessary.

c) Goals should be established and made clear: Every person in an organization should know what his contribution to the organization is. In order for delegation to be done with a purpose and be effective, he can also create the aims of delegation as he works towards his goals. Running the machine may not make the operator happy. He would be happy to know how the outcome of his effort contributes to organizational purpose.

d) People who perform labor ought to have power and responsibility that are clearly defined: The goals, duties, relationships, and boundaries of each position should be expressly stated in job descriptions or position manuals. A clear definition of responsibility and authority at each position eliminates the scope for the confusion that duplication and overlap in the entrustment of duties would cause.

e) Motivation is important because the manager who wants to delegate should be able to motivate people to do what he wants to be done, willingly and enthusiastically. As Louis Alien puts it, “Motivation is the moving force in delegation”.

f) Complete delegation: One of the goals of delegation is to lighten a manager’s workload. But if done incorrectly, it could add to the workload. The timing and frequency of the subordinate’s updates to his superior are frequently a source of contention. The problem can be resolved if

  • the assignment is clear-cut,
  • the subordinate is told how the assignment will be coordinated and motivated by the boss,
  • the boss specifies to the subordinate at what stage, in what form, and how often he should provide him with feedback on the progress and
  • the boss provides counseling and guidance.

Once a work has been delegated, the supervisor should only step in to offer advice and not withhold his permission for any particular steps necessary to complete the task. To assign a full assignment or task, the supervisor must have a certain amount of self-control and faith in order to refrain from interfering and instead offer guidance and assistance. Likewise, the subordinate should exercise discipline in choosing a course of action in carrying out the task. Delegating complete tasks relieves managers from detail and provides opportunities for subordinates to learn to be independent and feel a sense of fulfillment in work.

g) Train: Managers should help prepare their subordinates to accept delegation. Such need is all the more felt in the case of subordinates who show a tendency to depend on the bosses than be independent. Therefore, managers should carefully assess their deficiencies and cultivate the abilities and attitudes necessary to accept and successfully use the authority that has been entrusted to them. Training in delegation should include an appraisal of current performance, counseling for improvement, and coaching on the job.

h) Establishing controls: The manager is still responsible even after delegating. So there is a need for him to control without limiting the effectiveness of delegation. The system of control should be as comprehensive as the delegation, which should be as complete as possible.

The greatest way to create delegation controls is through self-control. The person to whom responsibility and authority arc delegated should participate in setting standards that are to measure his performance so that he can understand and accept them. He should also be able to measure and evaluate his performance if the control systems are ‘auto’ and ‘transparent’; thus it is easy to achieve control without limiting the effectiveness of delegation.

Only in a relative sense do the phrases “centralization” and “decentralization” have any real meaning. No organization can operate on a completely decentralized basis since all authority to make decisions would rest at the lowest managerial levels and make it difficult to achieve coordination. Similarly, except for very small firms, no organization can be completely centralized. It is appropriate to reflect on the experiences of two of the biggest American automakers. The Ford Motor Company, at one time, was said to have suffered due to centralization while General Motors suffered due to decentralization. This example bears out the impracticability of complete centralization or complete decentralization.

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