Principles of Delegation

Principles of Delegation:

Delegation is a universal practice. It is practiced in every organization. It serves several specific needs. These needs can, however, be served only when delegation is done systematically i.e., when it is governed by certain principles. To make the delegation effective and productive of good results, the following principles have to be observed.

(1) Delegation should be written and specific. Delegation of authority must clearly specify the scope and nature of authority which is being delegated. The delegate must know exactly how much authority has been delegated. The orders of delegating authority should be issued as far as possible in writing. These should also be definite and clear. The person who gets the delegated powers must be clear about the limits of delegation and his responsibilities.

(2) Delegation should be properly planned. Delegation should be done in a planned manner. There should be no ambiguity about the authority that has been delegated. Policies, regulations, and procedures should be well-defined. Only planned delegation can be productive of desired and good results.

(3) Objective of delegation is to get certain results. The authority is delegated to get the assigned and authorized work done. Subordinates cannot act according to their discretion. They have to carry out the delegated responsibility with the delegated authority. They are to always act within the limits as defined by the enabling act of delegation. The limits of delegation, as well as the expected results, are to be always communicated to the person to whom delegation has been addressed.

(4) Authority and responsibility are to be kept equal. Since delegation means conferring authority on subordinates for performing a specific task or tasks that are authorized and assigned to them, while delegating authority, responsibility should also be fixed and delegated. The subordinate using the delegated powers should be told that it would be his responsibility to own the results, whether good or bad and that he will be accountable for these. The subordinate has to be told that delegation does not entitle him to act according to his own wishes. The subordinates are to be given authority as well as responsibility in an equal proportion.

(5) Overall responsibility lies with the superior who delegates his authority.  A total responsibility cannot be delegated by the superior. The subordinate is to be held responsible to the superior for the activities delegated to him. The superior continues to supervise the subordinate even when the latter exercises the delegated powers.

(6) A systematic reporting system has to be established. While providing for delegation, the delegating authority must ask and get reports from the subordinate about the work being done on the basis of the delegated authority. It will provide an opportunity for the superior to review the progress of the work being done by the subordinate. When a delegated assignment is completed, it should be followed by an appraisal of the subordinate’s performance. After the attainment of the specified task, the delegated authority returns to the superior. For every fresh task, fresh delegation is to be done. The blanket delegation has to be avoided.

(7) The superior should always be ready to guide this subordinate. Even after delegating authority, the superior should always be ready to help the subordinate. He should always provide necessary guidance, help, and direction to the subordinate.

As far as possible, Delegation should be based on the above-mentioned principles. However, it must be admitted that no hard and fast, and precise principles stand universally accepted or followed. We can only say that the above-discussed principle can be of good help for a systematic and productive delegation of authority by a superior to a subordinate.

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