Essay on the Principals of Delegation in an Organisation

A manager is expected to perform better if he knows what he has to contribute and he has commensurate authority for that. Delegation by results expected implies that planning exercise has been taken and goals for each position has been set, communicated and properly understood by those who are responsible for achieving these goals.

Often managers fail to delegate adequately because either they have very vague idea about the contributions of their subordinates or they just do not bother to determine whether the subordinates have authority to do the things.

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Clarity of Line of Authority:

Each position in the organisation is linked with others through authority relationships; some directly through line authority, others indirectly. More clearly these lines of authority are defined; more effective is the delegation of authority.

In this respect, classical authors have given two principles which guide the delegation of authority. These principles are scalar chain and unity of command. Scalar chain principle refers to the chain of direct authority relationships from superior to subordinate throughout the organisation.

Clearer the line of authority from the top manager to every subordinate position in the organisation, the more effective will be responsible decision-making and organisational, communication.

The other principle, that is, unity of command suggests that a subordinate should be responsible to a single superior and he should receive instructions from the same superior only. The less is the problem of conflict in instructions and greater the feeling of personal responsibility for results.

Functional Definition:

Closely related with principles of delegation based on results expected is principle of functional definition. In an organisation the activities are classified and grouped to create departments or units. Each department contributes to organisational objectives. Thus there is a need for co-ordination of objectives and activities of the department in such a way that they contribute maximum to the organisation.

This gives rise to the principle of functional definition. The more a department has clear definitions of results expected activities to be undertaken, authority delegated, and authority and informational relationship with other departments, the more adequately the department can contribute towards accomplishing organisational objectives.

Level of Authority:

Authority level principle suggests that maintenance of intended delegation requires that decisions within the authority competence of individuals be made by them and not be referred upward in the organisation structure.

Thus managers should make whatever decisions they can in the light of their delegated authority and only matters that authority limitations keep them from deciding should be referred upward. This is possible if authority delegation is elm and managers at each level are sure what authority they have.

A problem comes when more than one manager can decide the things jointly without referring the matter upward but singly none of them can decide. Such a matter may be related with inter-departmental functioning.

A single manager can not make decision because of splintered authority. Splintered authority exists wherever a problem can not be solved or a decision made without pooling the authority delegations of two or more managers.

For example, production manager of Plant X can reduce his costs by some procedure changes in plant X, plant Y can reduce his costs by some procedural changes in plant Y. However, he cannot do this unless he pools his authority with manager of plant Y.

Alternatively, he can refer the matter upward and positive thing can happen by the action of common superior. In such a case, it is preferable to consolidate and pool splintered authority rather than referring the matter upward for decision.

Splintered authority cannot be wholly avoided in making decisions. However, recurring decisions on the same matters may indicate the need for re­-organisation and re-delegation of authority.

Parity of Authority and Responsibility:

A common saying in management is that authority and responsibility should always be equal’. It implies that since authority is the discretionary right to carry out assignment and responsibility is the obligation to accomplish them, authority should correspond to the responsibility.

Thus responsibility for acting can not be greater than implied authority delegated, nor should be less. This parity is not mathematical but, rather, co-extensive because both relate to the same assignment.

Absoluteness of Responsibility:

Responsibility is an obligation to get the assigned work done. Since responsibility cannot be delegated, a superior can not be achieved of his responsibility for the activities assigned to his subordinates.

Similarly, responsibility of subordinates to their superiors for performance is absolute; once they have accepted an assignment and the authority to carry it out, superiors can not escape responsibility for the organisation activities of their subordinates.