Charting an organization and outlining managerial goals and duties will help in making delegations, and knowledge of the principles of delegation will furnish a basis for it, certain personal attitudes underlie real delegation.
Receptiveness: An underlying attribute of managers who will delegate authority is a willingness to give other peopleâ€™s ideas a chance. Decision making always involves some discretion, and a subordinateâ€™s decision is not likely to be exactly the one a superior would have made. The manager who knows how to- delegate must be able not only to welcome the ideas of others but also to help others and to compliment them on their ingenuity.
Willingness to let go: A manager who will effectively delegate authority must be willing to release the right to make decisions to subordinates. A major fault of some managers who move up the executive ladder or of the pioneer who has built a large business from the small beginning of, say, a garage machine shop — is that they want to continue to make decisions for the positions they have left. Corporate presidents and vice-presidents who insist upon confirming every purchase or approving the appointment of every laborer or secretary waste time and attention needed for far more important decisions.
If the size or complexity of the organization forces delegation of authority, managers should realize that there is a â€œlaw of comparative managerial advantageâ€? somewhat like the law of comparative economic advantage that applies to nations. Well known to economists and logically sound, the latter states that a countryâ€™s wealth will be enhanced if it exports what it produces most efficiently and imports what it produces least efficiently, even though it could produce the imported goods more cheaply than any other nation. Likewise, managers enhance their contributions to the firm if they concentrate on tasks that contribute most to the firmâ€™s objectives and assign to subordinates other tasks, even though they could accomplish them better themselves.
Willingness to let others make mistakes: Although no responsible manager would sit idly by and let a subordinate make a mistake that might endanger the company or the subordinateâ€™s position in the company, continual checking to ensure that no mistakes are ever made will make true delegation impossible. Since everyone makes mistakes, a subordinate must be allowed to make some, and their cost must be considered an investment in personal development.
Serious or repeated mistakes can be largely avoided without nullifying delegation or hindering development of a subordinate. Patient counseling, asking leading or discerning questions, and carefully explaining the objectives and policies are some of the methods available to the manager who would delegate well. None of these techniques involves discouraging subordinates with intimidating criticism or harping on their shortcomings.
Superiors have no alternative to trusting their subordinates, for delegation implies a trustful attitude between them. A superior may out off delegation with the thought that subordinates are not yet experienced enough, that they cannot handle people, that they have not yet developed judgment, or that they do not appreciate all the facts bearing on a situation. Sometimes these considerations are true, but then a superior should either train subordinates or else select others who are prepared to assume the responsibility.