Organizational effectiveness is dependent upon several factors. Appropriate quantum of delegation of authority to right persons and up to right level is one of them. Unfortunately public servants all over the world are very reluctant to delegate for one reason or other despite the fact that appropriate delegation of authority is the perfect foundations on which the superior-subordinate relationship stands. Whether it is lack of confidence in their employees or fear of losing the control, it not only stifles the capacity building of the employees but also de-motivates them to put in their best efforts.
What is delegation?
Delegation can be defined as the assigning of certain responsibilities along with the necessary authority by a superior to his subordinates. It is basically subdivision of powers vesting in an authority and its allocation to the subordinates for achieving the goals and objectives of the organization efficiently and effectively. Remember, delegation only transfers certain responsibilities to your subordinates along with giving them the necessary authority enabling them to discharge their new responsibilities properly. In no way it entails the surrender of authority by the competent authority.
Elements of Delegation
Every process of delegation essentially involves three interrelated steps i.e. delegating authority, vesting responsibility, and holding the delegate accountable.
· Authority – is the legitimate power vested in a competent authority with the right to delegate it partially or wholly to his subordinates for the realization of the goals and objectives of the organisation. Authority always flows from top to bottom and gives a right to the competent authority to use and allocate the resources efficiently, to take decisions and to give orders so as to achieve the organizational objectives.
· Responsibility –if authority flows from the top to the bottom, the responsibility moves from lower to the higher rungs of an organisational structure. A person who is given the responsibility to complete the task assigned to him has to ensure that he accomplishes the tasks assigned to him. Obviously responsibility without adequate authority is as useless as authority without responsibility as both can create discontent and dissatisfaction among all.
· Accountability – means holding the delegate res answerable if there is any variance in the actual performance from tasks assigned without giving any plausible reasons. Being the bedrock of superior-subordinate relationship, accountability can neither be delegated nor can it be avoided. Accountability is a result of responsibility and responsibility is result of authority. Therefore, it is said that authority is delegated, responsibility is created and accountability is imposed
Need/Benefits of Delegation
Delegation is not only the need of the big organization like government departments but also legally mandated function of a public servant.Reduced workload of a superior as result of delegation of authority, makes t possible for him to concentrate his energy on important and critical issues of concern enabling him to bring effectiveness in his work as well in the work unit. This effectively helps a manager to prove his ability and skills in the best manner.
There are very elaborate manuals in every government department explaining in detail the respective roles and responsibilities of every officer working in that organisation. Unfortunately senior officers generally ignore these manuals and invariably try to pass orders on issues which are the prerogative of their subordinate, not only wasting his own time and creating unnecessary stress but also cause delay in service delivery and hinder the grooming of the junior officers.
Delegation of authority gives enough space to the subordinates to polish their abilities and skill, have a feeling of importance and get motivated to work.Beside improving team’s productivity and building their capacity, proper delegation of authority in letter and spirit allows senior management to devote more time and attention to policy formulation and strategic planning.
Finally leaving an efficiently working organization and capable team is the best legacy a public servant should aspire. It is only possible by maximum delegation of authority when you are in power.
8 Cs of delegation
· Conceive-what are the duties you perform
· Choose-what can be delegated
· Candidacy-who is fit to shoulder the responsibility
· Clarity-clear cut instructions
· Communications-constant liaison
· Confidence-have confidence, build confidence
· Constant monitoring-to see how far delegation is successful
· Capacity building-do not leave them in the lurch
First step in deciding what to delegate and to whom is to make an exhaustive list of all the duties you perform-whether these have been written in your formal job description or not. At the same time the duties your respective employees perform be also categorised. Critically examine what are the essential functions and what are peripheral. May be the organisation is performing some functions which do not strictly fall in its purview. It is the time to weed them out. Similarly you may realise that some functions can be conveniently outsourced to save costs and time. Weed out what unnecessary duties, if any, you or your employees are doing. Good time to retain the most essential duties your organization should be doing
Once the above exercise is complete choosing what to delegate and what to retain is the one of the biggest leadership challenges. Delegate the routine and others where not much policy making is involved. Remember you cannot delegate the following
A. incentives and rewards system
B. monitoring and evaluation
C. Upward communications/relations
D. Sensitive information handling
Do not delegate to those who are not capable of handling the increased roles and responsibilities. Do not overload your employees in one go. Gradual delegation is as important as quantum of delegation. Delegate in the line of duty-concerned ones and not pick and choose on the basis of discrimination.while assigning the tasks and duties to your subordinates clearly define the result expected from them and grant them sufficient authority but create responsibility and accountability
While delegating the authority to your subordinates, clarity of orders is the most important clearly explain what is expected of him and how he should go about it. issue written orders of not only what you are delegating to whom but also the frequency and channels of response should also be clearly spelled out.Remember the colossal loss of lives during the Crimean war ,immortalised in the Charge of the Light Brigade, was the result of wrong communication of orders of the seniors to the field officers. .
Importance of communication cannot be overemphasised in successful administration. It becomes all the more important when you are delegating authority to your juniors. Whether delegated or not, having constant communication with your subordinates is sine quo non of your effective leadership
People take time to adjust to new and enhanced responsibility. You must have confidence in your employees to rise to the occasion. Have confidence in them and build confidence in them. Forgive and forget if they make mistakes in this process.
Once delegated, your role and responsibilities just change, not finish. Constant monitoring and taking corrective measures wherever needed is your responsibility
Delegation of responsibility along with appropriate authority not only helps in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization, it also builds the capacity of the employees, motivating them to stay. However if you do not do so, they will not operate at their optimum level. Avoid Catch-22 situation. Help them to excel. Remember the classic reply of a boss relating to the query of his second in command about what would happen if they built the capacity of the employees and then they leave —-‘what will happen if we do not groom them and they stay .
Keeping an optimum balance between what to delegate to whom and why is an important policy and strategy issue facing a civil servant. It would go a long way in achieving the organizational goals on the one hand and meet the self actualization goals of your subordinates on the other. However remember that delegation of authority does not absolve you of our overall responsibility. It is your moral and legal responsibility to own if anything goes wrong because it was you who made the crucial decisions relating to delegation of authority.