9 Principles For Effective Delegation of Authority in the Workplace

Principles of Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority is a management philosophy by which a manager assigns responsibility to subordinates along with the necessary authority to carry out the delegated tasks.

When authority is delegated effectively it ensures employee satisfaction, increased performance, and increased productivity in the organization. For this, managers need to follow some principles of authority delegation which are specifically designed to create effectiveness in the delegation.

The following are the main principles you can follow for effective delegation of authority. They are:

Principle of Authority Level

According to the principle of authority level, the superior must take his authority level into account before granting authority. No one may assign authority that is not within their sphere of influence (position).

This authority delegation principle upholds the positional discipline that prohibits authority levels from being crossed or overlapped. It highlights the extent of authority and the standard at which it must be kept.

This means that managers at every level should make decisions based on their assigned authority whenever possible, and should only submit issues to superiors when their authority prevents them from making a decision.

Related: Levels of Management

Principle of Absolute Responsibility

This absolute responsibility principle of delegation, states that authority can be delegated but responsibility can not be. Meaning that responsibility is fixed on the superior even after delegating authority.

Every manager is responsible for the results and performance activities performed under him. He can delegate authority but in the end, he needs to be accountable for the results of his subordinates.

Managers can not escape from their responsibility. They should be responsible for the actions of their subordinates and should be accountable for ultimate goal achievement or failure to achieve.

Principle of Functional Definition

Suppose you have been delegated authority but you are not sure what actions are expected from you. Thus, the functional definition principle states that subordinates should be clear about the functions to be carried out when they are delegated.

This principle emphasizes that before delegating authority superior should define the functional area, limitations, and relation with other functions. This enables employees to be aware of what they are expected to do and can be prepared to best do the assigned tasks.

Related: Features of Delegation

Principle of Balance

The principle of balance is one of the most important principles of delegation of authority. This emphasizes that there must be a balance between authority and power delegated to subordinates.

While responsibility is the obligation to do assigned tasks and authority is the power to make necessary decisions, these two should co-exist with subordinates. This means neither excess authority nor less and neither excess responsibility nor less should be delegated to employees.

Excessive authority increases the misuse of authority by subordinates whereas lack of authority with responsibility increases the chance of delay in decision-making and execution of the task. Thus, this principle advocates that authority and responsibility should go hand in hand when delegated to employees.

Principle of Results Expected

According to this principle, before transferring authority, a manager should clearly identify goals, targets, and expectations for subordinates. This means that subordinates should be known about the results they should bring when they will be delegated. Only when results are expected from subordinates should authority be granted.

For instance, the sales manager should fix the target sales within a specific timeframe before granting authority to sales subordinates. Such a target should be communicated with subordinates before delegating authority.

Principle of Acceptance

Delegation of authority is also said as the two-side approach. One is the authority delegator and the second is the authority receiver. To this principle, subordinates should accept the delegated authority.

This means that successful delegation is only when the subordinates accept the delegated authority. Delegation is a formal process that should be performed within the legality of the company’s norms.

Managers should not force subordinates to accept the delegation, if done, jobs can not be done as expected. In addition, in the organization, the authority delegation should be done with the consent of employees.

Principle of Unity of Command

According to this principle, a subordinate should receive a command from only one superior at a time and be accountable to only one superior. This principle helps to avoid dual subordination in the command system.

Principle of Scalar Chain

The scalar chain states that there should be a direct chain of relationship in responsibility and authority throughout the organization. This helps in the smooth flow of communication.

While delegating authority, the principle of the scalar chain suggests that the superior should delegate the authority to subordinates who are in the scalar chain.

Principle of Exception

The exception principle of authority delegation states that managers should have exceptions to either increase, decrease, or withdraw authority in specific situations.

Employees must have unrestricted freedom to carry out their duties within the bounds of their authority. The manager must enable them to complete the task, even if they make mistakes, without interfering with their work. However, under exceptional situations, managers have the power to step in and even withdraw the subordinates’ authority.

Read Next: Process of Delegation

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