Effective Delegation: Steps for New Managers


Prof. Dileep Kumar M.

Delegation is an essential element of any manager's job. Delegation can range form a major appointment, such as the leadership of a team developing a new product, to one of any number of smaller tasks in everyday life of any organization - from arranging an annual outing to interviewing a job candidate. If used effectively Delegation provides real benefits to every one involved. Major indicator of justified use of power is delegation of authority by the management. It is the process through which a manager gives authority to their subordinates in order to accomplish certain assignments. The work culture, which utilizes the delegation of authority, improves the job satisfaction motivation and morale of employees.  Further it is helpful in satisfying the employee's need for recognition, responsibility freedom and autonomy.  Delegation is the manager's key to efficiency, and benefits all. Delegation of authority is a challenging effort for all managers to master because it involves effective communication, motivation, goal setting and behavioural modification.

Problems of Effective Delegation

The steps taken for effective delegation of authority by the senior managers play an important role in determining subordinates efficient performance of duties. It has observed by many authors that effective delegation of authority is not observed by the Indian managers, towards their subordinates because of their love for authority, desire to influence the subordinates, personality factors of the senior mangers, fear of incompetence, low level trust on their subordinates skill, knowledge and efforts etc. Where the organisation has high power distance there the delegation of authority will be at lower level.

Studies related to Delegation of Authority

It has been reported by many authors that Public and Private sector organisation in India have high power, authority and responsibility variations. Thompson, (1967) studies indicate that Organizations in high power distance cultures also tend to maintain tight control mechanisms and implement hierarchical, bureaucratic structures. Individuals in high power distance cultures will have less freedom and autonomy to make bold decisions, since high levels of control tend to encourage conservatism within organizations. Many studies have further observed that in Indian public and private sector organisations, the delegation of authority is varied considerably.  Moddie, (1972) found that, in both private and public sectors the Indian managers favour delegation of authority to him not so much from him to a subordinate.  Indian decision-making is a process of much consultativeness in which decisions ultimately emerge at the top, seldom in the middle and almost never at the bottom of private and public managements beyond the routine. Kakar, (1971) in public sector organizations, the inadequate delegation of authority starts from the government. In fact, the policy decision in regards the various pubic sector organizations rest with the government and not with the functional heads of these organizations. Coupled with this, appointment of non professionals-bureaucrats and in many cases, politicians also work against the adequate delegation of authority. More over, in many public sector organizations, there is always a lack of job clarity, which affects the delegation adversely. Further in such organizations, delegates lack of confidence in the subordinates to use the authority properly and effectively and his own reluctance to use the authority in the discharge of his responsibility for fear of criticisms for mistakes are also factors in inadequate delegation of authority.

Elhance and Agarwal, (1975) in their studies indicate that there is an inherent desire for with holding of authority on the part of superiors because of the love for authority. Though there is a universal phenomenon, this is operative more strongly in Indian organizations because they have to work in authoritarian culture. Thus inadequate delegation starts right from the top and flows through the various levels of the organizations. Delegant's love for authority has been identified as a major source for inadequate delegation in Indian organizations. They further that there is moderate degree of delegation of authority both in private and public sector, and the degree of delegation is higher in the later.  Further, in both sectors, there is high degree of technical delegation and lowest degree of financial delegation.

Lotia, (1967) indicates that in Indian business organizations, there is lack of adequate delegation authority to various managerial levels. In public sector enterprises delegation of authority is not always for the whole job. In most of the enterprises, due to its bureaucratic or semi governmental nature delegation is not enough to enable the manager to execute his duties with confidence and convenience. Weber used the term bureaucracy to describe an organization ordered by rules, laws, and regulations, and indicated that bureaucracies possess hierarchies with systems of super- and subordination. The management of the modern bureaucracy is based on written documents, such as standard operating procedures, which are more or less stable, exhaustive, and which can be learned. (See Mintzberg, 1979). The prototypical bureaucracy is the machine bureaucracy (Mintzberg, 1979), and the primary coordinating mechanism in such an organization is the standardization of work processes. Behavior in such an organization is relatively formal and employee tasks are specialized. Employees contract to receive wages in exchange for submitting to rules, regulations, and supervision, which in turn help employees handle the uncertain future from day to day. However, such a system is ineffective when employees are widely dispersed and direct supervision is not possible. It is also less effective in controlling behavior variability in organizations with a high percentage of tasks with substantial complexity (Wilkins & Ouchi, 1983). These findings clearly indicates that a paradigm shift from the present authoritarian style of leadership and managerial approaches to democratic and supportive style of approach to be practiced in order to develop a culture of employee cooperation and contribution at work. While looking upon the negative consequence of ineffective delegation of authority and there by to develop a culture of high performance, following steps to be recommended for Indian Managers.

Steps for Effective Delegation of Authority

Effective delegation is an essential managerial skill. Practical advice on how to develop and motivate staff, build loyalty, and give and receive feedback will increase your confidence and help you to become a skilled delegate. To develop a culture of high delegation, management should practice following steps;

1. Understand the nature of task
2. Review the task the manager is responsible for.
3. Differentiate the tasks that should be done by others
4. Analyze the skill and capabilities of the subordinates
5. Inform the subordinates the task to be performed
6. Determine what you will delegate
7. Clarify the results you want
8. Be sure to delegate the authority
9. Delegate to the right person.
10. Proper assignment of duties,
11. Be sure the employee understands his authority
12. Encourage and motivate them to take up the assignments willfully.
13. Detail the authority related to job performance.
14. Granting authority to perform.
15. Sharing power.
16. Being flexible.
17. Cross check the subordinates skill to follow the instruction
18. Give freedom and autonomy in task and performance.
19. Exchanges ideas, feelings and values.
20. Develop confidence and will to work as independent
21. Concurrent job monitoring and evaluation of subordinates
22. Clarification and removal of obstacles in functional level
23. Maintain open communication
24. Trust people to do well
25. Never give final responsibility
26. Create a climate of responsibility.
27. Establish a time limit
28. Obtain feedback from employees
29. Solicits feedback.
30. Establish a follow-up schedule

Benefits of Delegation

Delegation has a number of benefits. Good delegation saves you time, develops you people, grooms a successor, and motivates. When managers streamline their workload, they increase the amount of time available for essential managerial tasks. The staff feel motivated and more confident, and stress level decrease across the workforce. Effective delegation can save you hundreds of hours of unnecessary work, increase productivity and provide invaluable training to your associates and employees. Effective delegation involves the stimulus of increased responsibility and can provide a delegate with an enriched level of satisfaction as well as greater sense of worth . Delegation is empowerment, and that is the main spring of better work. Your staff will not develop unless they are given tasks that build their abilities, experience, and confidence. They will perform best in a structured environment in which every one is aware of delegated duties and responsibilities and each has the necessary skills and resources to carry out tasks efficiently. Successful leaders build high performing and profitable organizations through effective delegation of authority and purposive use of their knowledge, experience and insight towards the ultimate goal of business surplus generation.


1. Elhance D.N. and Agarwal R.D. (1975), 'Delegation of Authority', Bombay, Progressive, 138.

2. Kakar S, (1971), 'Authority Pattern and Subordinate Behaviour in Indian Organizations,' Administrative Science Quarterly, September.

3. Lotia Chandrakant (1967), 'Management Problems of Public Sector in India', Bombay, Manaktalas, P: 60.

4. Mintzberg, Henry. (1979), 'The Structuring of Organizations'. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Incorporated. Peters, Thomas J., and Waterman, Robert H. Jr. 1982. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

5. Mooddie, A. D. (1972), 'Indian Manager's in His Environment', A S C I, Journal of Management, September, 197(19).

6. Thompson, J. (1967), Organizations in action. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

7. Wilkins, Alan L. and Ouchi, William G. (1983), Efficient Cultures: Exploring the Relationship between Culture and Organizational Performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 28: 468-481.

Prof. Dileep Kumar M.

Source: E-mail April 2, 2006


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