What’s it: Delegation is the act of giving authority to those at lower levels to take on relevant roles or decisions. The company entrusts the task or some less essential decision-making, which has been carried out by superiors, to employees at lower levels in the organizational hierarchy. However, the final responsibility remains with the superior.
The delegation aims to train employees to responsibly make decisions about work. Therefore, they should be more accountable in carrying out delegated tasks. And, it all makes their working life more interesting where employees have the opportunity to self-actualize and develop themselves. In addition, it also reduces the superiors’ workload. So, they can focus more on more strategic aspects.
It requires empowerment, selection, and planning to be effective. In addition, the authority given must be balanced with the responsibility. And superiors need to determine assignment performance standards.
Why is delegation important?
Two reasons why delegation is important in building reliable human resources. First, it trains employees’ skills and experience in lower positions to actively involve them in making decisions. Thus, they are trained to take on higher roles, which is important to prepare them later when occupying a higher position.
Second, superiors can take a more active role in more strategic aspects by reducing their workload. Indeed, they do not delegate all tasks and decision-making to subordinates. However, they didn’t spend time dealing with some less essential aspects, which their subordinates could do.
Finally, delegation can lead to greater efficiency. Moreover, it can increase motivation, skill development, and more effective distribution of work across the organization.
Where is delegation commonly applied?
Delegation is common in work environments with democratic leadership styles. Leaders motivate employees by giving them more authority. They increase the employee’s role and control over the work. This method also allows employees to train and develop themselves to be more responsible and accountable for making decisions.
Then, companies with decentralized and centralized organizational structures implement delegation to different degrees. The decentralized organizational structure allows more delegation, where lower-level employees have more decision-making authority.
In contrast, under a centralized organizational structure, subordinates have limited decision-making. As a result, more authority is under management at a higher level.
And, in general, there will be more delegation as the company grows. Larger organizations involve more complex roles and decision-making. Therefore, superiors began to reduce their role in making all decisions.
Superiors delegate non-essential roles and decision-making to subordinates. They concentrate on more strategic issues while subordinates take on more roles.
Otherwise, it will hinder business growth. The boss is too busy with all the decisions in the company. This can lead to stress and poor decision-making.
How does delegation work?
As defined above, delegating means entrusting decision-making authority and carrying out certain tasks to employees at lower levels in the organizational hierarchy. Not entirely delegated. Instead, the superior retains final responsibility and takes on a more strategic role.
The process begins with identifying the employee’s capacities and capabilities. For example, not all employees are ready to take on more roles and authority. Thus, choosing the most suitable one is essential for higher effectiveness and motivation.
Then, superiors equip those selected with resources and supporting facilities before giving authority. It’s important to make sure they carry out their roles properly. Once delegated, superiors need to support and monitor their progress. And evaluating them is the last stage.
Some important considerations for effective delegation:
- Adequate capacity, skills, and experience. Subordinates must have sufficient qualifications to take on more roles.
- Clearly defined goals. Thus, subordinates understand what their superiors expect from them.
- Sufficient authority and responsibility. The company must match the delegated authority and responsibility with subordinates’ capacity and skills. So, adding a new role does not stress them out. On the contrary, it keeps them energized and motivated.
- Clear procedure. This is important to reduce confusion when subordinates are carrying out delegated roles. They understand the procedures involved.
- Indicators to measure results. The supervisor establishes criteria for measuring how subordinates progress in carrying out the delegated role, including establishing a schedule for evaluating them.
- Constructive feedback. It can be two-way. It is important to help subordinates develop and improve themselves on the one side. On the other side, superiors also get input from subordinates, for example, about the instructions given, whether they are clear or not.
Trust is key
Trust is an essential ingredient in the delegation. On the one hand, superiors trust subordinates to carry out their assigned roles and authority, expecting them to do well.
On the other hand, subordinates trust superiors to not interfere after some roles and authority are delegated. This is because they have the freedom to do it, according to the guidelines given. In addition, they also feel they have to be more responsible because their superiors have entrusted it all to them.
Delegating roles and authority to subordinates means superiors lose control over them. If the boss doesn’t trust them, it can get delegation into trouble.
For example, superiors constantly check and supervise subordinates. It can increase stress because subordinates feel constantly monitored. In addition, they are also less free to actualize their abilities. And finally, they find it difficult to develop themselves and learn from possible mistakes.
What are the advantages of delegation?
A more organized workload and roles are the main advantages of delegation. On the one hand, employees are motivated because they have the opportunity to take on more roles and authority to manage their work. On the other hand, superiors have more space to take on more strategic roles by delegating less essential roles and decisions to employees.
Meanwhile, other advantages of the delegation are:
Develop competence. Employees at lower levels have the opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge to carry out delegated tasks effectively. For example, they can learn to make decisions and manage their working life effectively as workloads add up.
Make working life more interesting and challenging. Besides enabling employees to build on their competencies, the delegation also makes their routines more exciting. As a result, their activities are more diverse with new challenges, minimizing boredom and demotivation due to repetitive, monotonous work.
Higher engagement. Subordinates can participate more actively in their work. As a result, they feel more involved in their work, encouraging them to do their best.
Build synergy. Superiors and subordinates trust each other. Thus, they can collaborate better to implement company programs and strategies.
Prepare for a career. Delegation allows employees to develop and practice their skills, such as decision-making, which are needed when occupying more senior positions. So, they are better prepared when the company promotes them. Finally, they can quickly become effective in higher-level roles, possibly requiring less training.
Opportunity for self-actualization. Giving more decision-making authority allows employees to self-actualize. They can apply their ideas and knowledge in their work.
Improved retention. Job satisfaction increases because employees can manage their work lives. They also can develop themselves to achieve a more advanced career. Finally, they are happy working in the company and are reluctant to switch to another company.
Practice accountability. Delegation trains employees to be more responsible for delegated roles and tasks. They should try their best and be more accountable because their boss trusts them.
Higher productivity. Delegation can become a further stage in the division of labor as the organization becomes larger. Thus, each individual focuses on the role required for each position. It allows them to be more productive.
Support business growth. As companies get bigger, organizations become more complex. And delegation facilitates companies to grow bigger and be better prepared to face intense competition. Without it, companies may find it difficult to grow larger and more competitive. For example, the boss is stressed due to taking on too many roles. Thus, they find it difficult to give priority to more strategic aspects.
What are the disadvantages of delegation?
Ineffective delegation can lead to confusion because subordinates are unprepared and goals are not clearly defined. As a result, they do not have clear guidelines on how they should play a role.
Apart from that, some of the possible drawbacks of the delegation are:
Role failure. Subordinates fail to act as expected by superiors. It may be because they do not have the insufficient capacity or unclear direction.
Tarnished reputation. The superior is the final person in charge of every decision made by the subordinate. Thus, when subordinates fail in carrying out their roles, it can damage their reputation.
Losing control. Entrusting more authority to subordinates means giving them the freedom to carry out delegated roles. Thus, superiors can lose management control, which is bad if they perform poorly and do not live up to expectations.
Threatened position. When a subordinate performs well and is more effective, management may appoint him to a higher position. His career rose quickly. And the boss may feel insecure. He couldn’t get a higher promotion because he couldn’t compete with other candidates or his poor performance.
Heavier workload. Often, superiors delegate tedious tasks to subordinates. Thus, it does not increase job satisfaction and make work more interesting. Rather, on the contrary, it makes employees more bored and bears a heavier workload.
Interpersonal rift. For example, a superior gives an employee the authority to supervise their coworkers because they are considered competent. Instead of being effective, it can create tension between them. Coworkers may not respect him because he is at the same level in the organizational hierarchy.
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