Advantages of Delegation

by Sree Rama Rao on January 20, 2009

Delegation is how to distribute formal authority throughout the organizational structure is a key organizing decision. Delegation is the assignment to another person of formal authority (legitimate power) and accountability for carrying out specific activities. The delegation of authority by managers to employees is necessary for the efficient functioning of any organization, because no manager can personally accomplish or completely supervise all of what happens at an organization.

Advantages of Delegation:

When used properly, delegation has several important advantages. The first and most obvious is that the more tasks managers are able to delegate, the more opportunities they have to seek and accept increased responsibilities from higher level managers. Thus managers will try to delegate not only routine matters but also tasks requiring thought and initiative, so that they will be free to function with maximum effectiveness for their organizations. In addition, delegation causes employees to accept accountability and exercise judgment. This not only helps train them – an important advantage of delegation – but also improves their self confidence and willingness to take initiative.

At Phelps County Bank in Rolla, Missouri, a loan processor researched, proposed and helped to implement a system of upward evaluations that is, employee reviews of supervisors. At Intuit, a software company in Palo Alto, California, a technical support supervisor organized a group of experts to assist in answering customer questions in highly specialized areas. Both of these small businesses encourage employees to suggest and implement ideas or improving operations.

Another advantage of delegation is that it frequently leads to better decisions, because employees closest to ‘where the action is’ are likely to have a clearer view of the facts. For example, a West Coast sales manager would be in a better position to allocate California sales territories than a New York based vice president of sales.

Effective delegation also speeds up decision making. Valuable time can be lost when employee must check with their managers (who then may have to check with their managers) before making a decision. This delay is eliminated when employees are authorized to make the necessary decision on the spot. At Nordstrom, associates are empowered to make many decisions on their own.

The Police Department in South Lake, Tahoe, California has discovered the value of delegating authority. When the former chief of police resigned in 1991, city manager Kerry Miler used it as an opportunity to change the department’s organizational dynamics and more toward more cooperative management. Outside consultants has recently recommended the setting up of a committee to address organizational problems. Miller began by allowing this committee, which now called itself the participative management team (PMT) to be involved in the selection of the new police chief. This proved an integral step. With choosing the chief the process finally went beyond just people airing their differences recalled patrol officer Rich Hogbin.

They realized that they finally were going to be part of the decision making process When they did that, we realized the sky was the limit. The PMT does not exercise the authority that should belong to the police chief; rather when an issue arises, the committee’s first decision is whether it even has the authority to deal with the issue. In some ways decisions take more time to make because they are researched and discussed more thoroughly but the overall response has been favorable.

Case of an entrepreneur who struggles to delegate:

During her 15 years as president and chief executive officer of West haven Services, an institutional pharmacy based in Perrysburg Ohio, Mary Lou Fox found that her creative, entrepreneurial spirit erected a barrier to delegation. As much as she wanted to develop a management team to succeed her, she failed on at least four separate occasions.

After failing on four separate occasions to make the transition to a new management team to succeed her, though Fox has decided that there is one obstacle left that she can confront; herself. She decided to change things she declared mentioning that the only thing she really have control over is her self.

With this in mind she immediately began delegating authority to her managers in order to start the process of disengaging herself from the company. This time the delegation was real and the work successful.





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