Delegation Of Authority: Why Is It Important?
Have you ever wondered why one restaurant does much better than another even though they serve the same quality of…
November 4, 2020 | 7 mins read
Have you ever wondered why one restaurant does much better than another even though they serve the same quality of food and provide a similar dining experience?
The answer lies in better customer service that often sets a restaurant apart from others. So what’s at the core of that?
The staff of restaurants known for their customer service is usually able to attend to every customer with equal attentiveness. Often, this is because managers of these restaurants delegate responsibilities in a way that none of the customers feel left out.
The importance of delegation is rooted in the fact that it helps divide the workload and encourages employees to be more productive because they’re not overburdened. Let’s see how delegating authority makes teamwork more efficient.
In order to define delegation of authority, we have to understand the meaning of the term. Delegation of authority is a process that enables a person to assign a task to others. As a manager or leader, you’re expected to perform several tasks and meet multiple deadlines. To ensure that you achieve your objectives on time, you delegate responsibility to your team members. In short, the meaning of delegation of authority is to entrust someone with tasks and share the overall responsibility.
There are three central elements involved in the process of delegating authority. These elements also reflect the importance of delegation of authority in management.
In the context of business organizations, authority is the right and power of an individual to assign resources efficiently, make decisions and give instructions to achieve organizational goals. This authority should be well-defined and shouldn’t be misused. There’s a co-dependent relationship between authority and responsibility, which is why authority should always be accompanied by an equal amount of responsibility to complete tasks successfully. However, the ultimate responsibility always rests with the person with the greatest authority.
Responsibility refers to the scope or duty of an individual to complete the task assigned to them. Someone who is entrusted with responsibility should take ownership of their tasks. It’s best not to make excuses or give explanations if the tasks aren’t fulfilled. Responsibility without adequate authority can lead to dissatisfaction and discontent. It’s best to not give someone too much authority and too little responsibility. Managers and leaders may be ultimately held accountable for the overall performance, but the more important responsibilities lie in the hands of employees.
What is a delegation of authority without accountability? It’s a component that differentiates between an individual’s performance and the expectations that were set in advance. Unlike authority and responsibility, accountability can’t be delegated to others. Anybody who sets out to complete a task becomes accountable for their efforts and outcomes. For example, if Madan is given a task with adequate authority and he delegates the task to Mohan, the responsibility rests with Mohan but Madan is still accountable for the task.
As they say in the Spiderman movie series, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Having power doesn’t necessarily make you a good leader but the way you manage and delegate responsibilities do. Here are a few key things managers and leaders should be mindful of when delegating authority.
You shouldn’t surrender your authority completely. In other words, you should define the scope of your authority.
You should always comply with the provisions of organizational policies, rules and regulations.
Once delegated, authority can be further expanded or withdrawn, depending on the situation.
You can’t delegate authority that you don’t possess yourself.
The delegation of authority can be written or oral and specific or general.
Not every team member is capable of shouldering responsibilities, which is why you should keep your employees’ individual capacities in mind.
Everyone’s leadership or management style is unique. While some have a more hands-on approach, some believe in trusting their team with responsibilities. In other words, there are various types of delegation of authority. Let’s look into each type through different examples of delegation of authority:
The importance of delegation of authority is evident in recurring and repetitive jobs in organizations that are fully delegated. For such tasks, there is very little to no interference from managers and leaders, and team members are given maximum authority. Take this situation for instance: imagine you’re the Human Resources head at your organization. You conduct employee surveys every quarter and reuse a set of standard questions and follow a particular protocol to circulate the surveys. If new members join your team, you can hand over that task completely. You can communicate the objectives in advance and your team can present the final results after they collect the information.
To delegate half a task seems like a bad idea but when done well, it can do wonders. Let’s take these two examples of delegation of authority and see how half delegation can work:
Imagine the ‘marketing’ and ‘sales’ teams are working towards the same goal. You can choose to delegate all marketing-related tasks to the marketing team and all sales- and partnership-related objectives to the sales team. They may collaborate and help each other but they would be accountable for their respective targets and deadlines. Ultimately, you can supervise their performance and make sure each team has met your expectations.
Suppose you want to hire new employees. Looking through hundreds of job applications isn’t easy, so you can delegate the preliminary task of looking through resumes and shortlisting them to your team members. You can then look at the shortlisted resumes. You may set certain expectations so that your team picks candidates with the required skills and expertise.
Outdoor delegation is most useful in case of collaborations with another organization. For example, if you work with an external agency, you can send your best negotiators to collaboratively develop a strategy. Once you receive a brief about the new business strategy with the necessary details, you can make the final decision without having to spend hours on the commute or negotiations.
When you have limited time on your hands, intervention is the way to go. After you delegate tasks, you can check in with your team members every now and then. It’s a good way to track individual signs of progress. It’s especially beneficial when you have to work with new employees who don’t have many years of experience behind them. For example, you can use the intervention method when you want to launch a new initiative. Ask your team to come up with ideas and present them to you for approval. Intervention is a time-saving technique. While intervention is a useful method, you need to make sure that you don’t end up micromanaging your team as it has a negative impact on employee morale.
Projects that require innovation should be delegated. When more people are involved, the chances of suggesting unique ideas are higher. One person’s creativity can push the creativity of the team. For example, if you are hosting Diwali celebrations at your office, you can either create a plan and delegate responsibilities for execution or ask your team to pitch their ideas. Both these ways are fitting examples of creative delegation.
The process of delegating authority is to ensure a well-functioning and productive workplace. The process can benefit you, your employees and the organization at large, if done properly. Here are some of the benefits that highlight the importance of delegation of authority.
Delegation helps employees finish tasks faster because the work is distributed among a group of individuals and everyone is responsible for their respective targets.
When you delegate tasks, your team members get a chance to showcase their skills and expertise in a particular area. With proper guidance, they can also improve their knowledge and skill sets.
If you’re busy or absent from work, your team can help complete some of your work and ensure continuity and productivity.
When you assign new responsibilities, it shows that you trust your employees to take control. They’re encouraged and driven to fully utilize their potential.
The more you delegate tasks to different members of your team, the more they understand business goals and objectives. This gives way to potential promotion within the organization.
Delegation of authority can be tricky if it’s not executed properly. Harappa Education’s Navigating Workplaces course will teach you how to effectively manage conflicts and embrace different perspectives. The Culture Fit framework will guide you in your evaluation of workplace culture. Additionally, the Thomas Kilmann model will teach you the five essential ways of dealing with conflict. Master the skill of leading and influencing others and let your team flourish under your guidance!
Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about the topic related to the Collaborate habit such as Teamwork, the Importance of Rapport, Employee Engagement, Building Relationships, How to Say Sorry professionally & Work-Life Balance in order to develop your collaboration skills.