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Delegation of authority is the transfer or distribution of authority and decision-making power to subordinates.

It is defined as the assignment of authority, duties and operating responsibility to another person for the performance of specific activities.

It is a process whereby management divides tasks among subordinates and assigns them responsibility for accomplishing the task within the scope of the delegation.

Delegation is the sub-allocation and sub-division of authority to subordinates to achieve effective results.

To quote Louis Allen, "Delegation is the dynamics of management. It is the process a manager follows in dividing the work assigned to him so that he performs that part which only he, because of his unique organizational placement, can perform effectively and so that he can get others to help him with what it remains"

The delegation of authority by superiors to subordinates is necessary for the efficient functioning of any organization.

This is because the manager has a lot of tasks and work to complete.

So, in order, to reduce the burden, the superior must delegate tasks to subordinates who will do the work and report back to him.

The manner and extent to which a manager delegates are highly influenced by factors such as the organization structure, the task to be accomplished and the capabilities of the subordinate.

In delegating, the manager does not delegate responsibility. Rather, the manager shared the responsibility for the task delegated with his subordinates 

It is the responsibility of the superior to see that the job is completed.

In reality, responsibility is divided into two parts at the time of delegation: ultimate responsibility and operating responsibility

The subordinate has only operating responsibility while the manager retains the ultimate responsibility.

If the subordinate fails to perform his job (operating responsibility), the manager is held responsible for his subordinate's failure (ultimate responsibility).

Elements of delegation of authority

1. Authority: Delegation of authority entails the transfer of authority down to subordinates.

Authority is the right of a person to give orders and exact obedience. It is the ability to make decisions and give orders for the attainment of organisational goals.

Delegation of authority entails the transfer of power from superior to subordinates. It involves a manager giving tasks to subordinates and explaining to them what is to be done and what is expected of them

2. Responsibility: According to henry fayol, responsibility is the result of authority.

Indeed, the right to issue commands (authority) must be balanced against the obligation to complete the work (responsibility).

Responsibility is the subordinate obligation to perform tasks delegated to him to the best of his capability.

A responsible subordinate should have no justification for not performing his task well. 

He should not also delay in the execution of the task assigned to him.

In short, a responsible subordinate should perform tasks assigned to him as soon as possible.

It should be noted that delegation of authority does not imply that managers have escaped responsibility.

The ultimate responsibility to see that the delegated task is performed still rests on the delegator (manager) while the delegatee (subordinate) will have operating responsibility for the completion of the task delegated to him

3. Accountability: Accountability means answerability for the performance of a task.

While responsibility can be shared ad authority can be delegated, accountability cannot be delegated or shared.

For example, if a superior is given a task and delegates the task to a subordinate, then the operating responsibility lies with the subordinate but the manager retains accountability for the assignment.

In a nutshell, accountability means being answerable for the result of a specific task

Advantages Of Delegation Of Authority

1. Reduced workload: Delegation allows a manager to divide tasks and assign them to subordinates.

This relieves top management of job overload, allowing them to focus on other important areas of the firm that require more oversight.

2. Better management: With a reduced workload, management can concentrate on other important areas of the business.

This way, there can bring effectiveness and efficiency to their job.

3. Demonstrates management trust: Delegating authority is a way for a manager to show that he trusts and believes in his subordinates.

This, in turn, can help motivate subordinates.

4. Selection of employees for higher task: Delegation of authority involves giving employees the right to make decisions to accomplish a particular task.

This can help managers know the skills and competence of employees.

By allowing managers to see how smart and competent employees are, a delegation of authority aid in the selection of successors for higher ranks in the organization.

5. Basis of training: When tasks are delegated and employees are given decision-making power, a manager can gain insight into his subordinates capability.

This insight can serve as the basis for training managers for future challenges.

Moreover, a delegation of authority can serve as on-the-job training where employees can learn, unlearn and relearn new skills and managerial abilities.

6. Better and quicker decision making: As subordinates with delegated authority can make decisions that would otherwise be made by top-level managers, a delegation of authority results in better and faster decision-making.

Moreover, delegation leads to better decisions as subordinates closest to 'where the task or action is are likely to have a clear picture and make better decisions than managers.

Disadvantages of delegation of authority

1. Poor result:  If authority is delegated to unskilled subordinates, poor results will occur because the organization will be unable to achieve its objectives with unskilled workers.

2. Burden on subordinates: While the delegation of authority reduces the workload of managers, it can overburden subordinates.

Indeed, subordinates may get so overwhelmed by the workload that they lose interest in their job.

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