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Delegation of authority can be defined as the process whereby managers divide tasks to be done and delegate them to subordinates, who will report back to them.

However, there exist certain barriers to effective delegation of authority and these barriers can be divided into two:

1. Managers' reluctance to delegate authority

2. Subordinates' reluctance to accept delegated authority

Reasons For Manager's Reluctance To Delegate

1. Lack of confidence in subordinates: managers may show negative attitudes towards delegation if they lack confidence and trust regarding the skills and experiences of subordinates

2. Insecurity and perceived threat: Another reason why managers may not delegate is insecurity.

Manager's Insecurity may arise from failure and loss of power that will occur if the subordinates do the job well.

He may fear that the subordinate may do the job better than him and gain some notice in the organization.

Furthermore, managers may be hesitant to delegate if they fear losing control and authority over subordinates.

3. Egocentric attitude of managers: If a manager is egocentric and believe he can do the work better than others, he may not delegate.

The fallacy of "I can do it myself", "my subordinates are not capable enough" are some of the excuses used by the egocentric manager

4. Retention of power: Managers' desire to retain decision-making authority can prevent effective delegation of authority.

Moreover, an autocratic manager may be unwilling to delegate authority to subordinates

5. Fear of being blamed: When a manager delegates tasks, It is his responsibility to ensure that the delegated task is completed.

If the manager delegates task and the task were not handled properly, the manager will be held responsible.

The fear of blame and punishment on tasks delegated to subordinates but poorly handled can discourage managers from delegating

Reasons for subordinate reluctance to accept delegation of authority.

1. Lack of relevant information: A Subordinate may not accept delegated authority if feel that he does not have relevant information to complete the delegated task.

2. Fear of mistakes: The fear of criticism arising from mistakes made while performing delegated assignments can discourage subordinates' interest in delegated authority.

3. Lack of self-confidence: Lack of self-confidence on the part of the subordinates in their ability to perform delegated tasks well can bar effective delegation.

This lack of self-confidence may be because the subordinate is incompetent or lacks the essential skills and expertise to do the delegate's tasks.

4. Unwillingness to take responsibility: Delegation of authority invariably means that the delegator (superior) and the delegatee (subordinate) share responsibility for the completion of the delegation task

Indeed, a delegation of authority places an obligation on the subordinate to carry out the tasks to the best of his/her ability.

This can make subordinates uninterested in the delegation of authority as they wish to avoid the responsibilities and risks that come with it.

For example, if the subordinate does not perform the delegated task well, he may be fired from the organization or he may be branded incompetent.

This is just an example of the risks associated with accepting delegated authority.

5. Lack of incentive:  If there are no financial and non-financial incentives, subordinates may refuse to accept responsibility and delegated authority.

Subordinates may refuse to accept delegation of authority if there are no suitable incentives, such as promotion, salary raises, or better working conditions, because they may believe there is no incentive difference between accepting delegated authority and not accepting it.

Overcoming The Barriers To Effective Delegation Of Authority or Conditions necessary for effective delegation of authority

1. Managers should be willing to delegate: Managers must recognize the importance of delegation and grant real freedom to subordinates in carrying out delegated tasks.

Managers must be aware of the fact that there are several ways of han handling problems and their own may not necessarily be the best.

They should therefore delegate tasks and give subordinates the freedom to choose different methods and solutions than the ones chosen by the managers 

2. Improved communication between superiors and subordinates: As earlier noted, subordinates may refuse to accept delegated authority because lack of information

To solve this problem, there should be open and improved communication among managers and subordinates. This ensures that there is a better flow of information from subordinate to superior and vice versa

3. Provision of incentives: Managers should entice subordinates to embrace delegation by offering them financial and non-financial incentives if they accept delegated authority.

Praise and other financial incentives must be given when earned and mistakes must be used as training opportunities, rather than as an excuse to criticize subordinates.

Stated differently, Subordinates' mistakes should not be used as an excuse to stop delegating but, rather as an opportunity to offer training and support to subordinate

4. Select the right person for the right job: Managers must match the right person to the right job to overcome a lack of confidence in the abilities of the subordinate

To achieve this, he needs to discover the skills and experiences of subordinates through a skill inventory, which he'll then use as a basis for delegation.

5. Delegation should be planned: As is often said, he who fails to plan plans to fail.

The same is true for delegation of authority. To enhance the effectiveness of delegation, there should be effective planning for delegation. 

This would entail a manager deciding in advance what to delegate, how to delegate, when to delegate, and to whom to delegate.

6. Freedom to make decisions: To encourage effective delegation, managers must also give subordinates the freedom to make decisions

When subordinates are given the freedom to make decisions, they are bound to make mistakes.

As such, Subordinate mistakes should serve as the basis for the provision of training and support in the organisation

7. Provisions of a system of control: A control system should be in place to track the progress of delegated tasks in the organization.

Managers must establish clear priorities and objectives, choose the activity to be delegated to achieve these objectives and then set dates for the completion of these activities.

Setting objectives force managers to delegate authority effectively and also to make an objective decision

Setting priorities and time-bound objectives, in reality, aids both subordinates and managers in avoiding procrastination.

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We just learn barriers to effective delegation of authority. To summarize, there are two major barriers to delegation of authority: managers' reluctance to delegate authority and subordinate reluctance to accept delegated authority

Managers may refuse to delegate authority for a variety of reasons including lack of confidence in subordinates, insecurity, egocentric behaviour of managers, retention of power and fear of being blamed

Lack of adequate information, fear of mistake, lack of self-confidence, unwillingness to take responsibility and lack of incentives are all reasons for subordinates' reluctance to accept delegated authority.

Lastly, we discussed ways of overcoming barriers to a delegation of authority, namely: Managers must be willing to delegate authority, improve communication between subordinates and managers, provision of incentives, select the right person for the right job, etc.

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