Barriers to delegation

Despite these advantages managers can be reluctant to delegate authority. Managers often have a number of excuses for not delegating: “I can do it better myself”; “My employees just aren’t capable enough”; “It takes too much time to explain what I want to be done”. The real reason may be the manager is simply too disorganized or inflexible to delegate work effectively.

Other barriers to delegation are insecurity and confusion about who is ultimately responsible for a specific task – the manager or the employee. Managers cannot sidestep their responsibility to higher ups simply by delegating difficult or unpleasant tasks. They are always accountable for the actions of their employees – a fact that makes some managers reluctant to take a chance on delegating. Others fear that delegating reduces their own authority. Still others feel threatened if their employees do too good a job. Some employees on the other hand, want to avoid responsibility and risk. They prefer that their managers make all the decisions. These barriers can be overcome if managers follow certain guidelines for effective delegation.

Guidelines for effective Delegation:

The practice of delegation challenges managers and employee alike to pay close attention to the terms of their working relationships. Delegation will have a better chance of succeeding for all parties concerned, if they work to build trusts in each other. Here is one more situation where ethics comes to bear in day-to-day organizational activities.


The most basic prerequisite to effective delegation remains the manager’s willingness to give employees freedom to accomplish delegated tasks. This means letting them choose methods and solutions different from the ones the manager would have chosen. It also means giving them the freedom to make mistakes and to learn from their mistakes. Mistakes are not an excuse to stop delegating, but rather an opportunity to offer training and support.

A second prerequisite for delegation is open communication between managers and employees. Managers who know the capabilities of their employees can more realistically decide which tasks can be delegated to whom. In turn, employees who are encouraged to use their abilities and who feel their managers will back them up are more likely to accept responsibility. The third prerequisite for delegation is the manager’s ability to analyze such factors as the organization’s goals, the task’s requirements and the employee’s capabilities.

Tasks of effective Delegation:

The prerequisite just discussed are all important to carrying out the following tasks of effective delegation:

* Decide which tasks can be delegated. Many items can and should be delegated. Some of these are minor decisions and recurring chores. However, unusually demanding and challenging assignments may often be delegated to employees and will do much to develop them.

* Decide who should get the assignment. Who has available time? Does the job require special competence? For whom would it be an appropriate and useful developmental experience? Managers ask these questions when deciding which of their people should get the assignment.

* Provide sufficient resources for carrying out the delegated task: All the delegated authority in the world will not help the recipient, if he or she cannot have the financial, staff or time resources necessary to do the job.

* Delegate the assignment: In delegating the assignment, effective managers provide all relevant information on the task. As far as possible they specify the results expected, not methods to be used. Further, they cultivate a climate of free and open communications between themselves and the person to whom they have delegated the task.

* Be prepared, to run interference if necessary. Delegated tasks can get bogged down if resources are insufficient or if the person delegated to do the task runs up against resistance from others. Sometimes this happens because other kinds of power are to work. We can readily imagine a case where a transfer of reward power causes some third party to complain or try to go around the person was delegated the task.

* Establish a feedback system: Delegating managers establish a system of checkpoints and feedback so they will remain advised of progress and can offer advice or mid course adjustments if necessary. They select the feedback system carefully bearing in mind that the tighter their controls the less actual delegation is taking place.