Management by delegation

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Management by delegation
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By delegating management is not only the transfer of tasks to employees, but also the necessary powers and responsibility for their performance. Management by delegation is in contrast to participation, where employees are not granted formal permission to act independently.

Delegating is a concept associated with the specifics of managerial work. Manager entrust to subordinate implementation of specific goals, leaving him some freedom, independence of decision-making and the choice of means and methods.

Efficient management is the art of achieving the objectives with the help of the people. One of the components of such a management is the delegation of powers to the subordinates. By delegating the assignment of work to someone else comes together with providing his formal authority, responsibility and resources necessary to carry out specific tasks. The importance of this issue has caused many specialists in the field of organization and management to found a delegation as a distinct management technique.

Delegation of powers leads to the division of responsibility between the manager and subordinate (dual responsibility). It is, however, in each case another responsibility (responsibility for something else). The dilemma relates to the division of responsibility between the manager and a subordinate regarding their competences.

In the event of misuse of its powers by a subordinate, which has delegated powers, superior responsibility applies to following matters:

  • the scope of the powers delegated in writing (whether he was allowed to delegate authority)
  • Selection of a person (if a subordinate choice was justified by level of his qualification, knowledge, etc.)
  • Functions of supervision and control (or monitoring and control to be effective and to allow timely correction of errors of subordinates).

Advantages of delegation include:

Problems in management by delegation

There are some difficulties that arise during delegation: On the part of managers:

  • sense of insecurity in the organization - when tasks are performed well by employees,
  • fear of losing power, the need to control all of the tasks,
  • lack of trust in employees (the fear that the task will not be executed properly)
  • lack of self-confidence and sense of security.

On the part of the employees:

  • fear of criticism and embarrassment,
  • risk avoidance,
  • lack of incentives to take up the challenge and low intrinsic motivation,
  • low commitment to the organization,
  • lack of self-confidence and sense of security.

Basic principles of management by delegation

  • clarification of the scope of tasks and powers,
  • ensuring the compliance of the tasks, skills (knowledge and experiences), and the competence of the employee,
  • respect employee's right to refuse the acceptance of new powers,
  • monitoring of the implementation of delegated tasks.

To delegation most susceptible are following decision-making powers:

  • with short time-frame of impact,
  • with small scale impact,
  • in technical rather than human matters,
  • with low uncertainty,
  • repetitive.

Usually managers do not delegate the powers in the following fields: disciplining employees, finance, investment, organizational structure, strategy, employment, corporate image.

The trap that managers should avoid, is the back-delegation. It appears when the employee refers to the supervisor with the problem regarding of delegated tasks, and asks him to personally solve it. Employee should proposed a solution or range of solution for managers to choose.

Management by delegation requires efficient exchange of information between the manager and the staff. Management by delegation may be implemented in the organization gradually.

Advantages and disadvantages of management by delegation


  • relieving managers from secondary tasks which enable them to focus on the most important activities,
  • overcoming passivity among employees of lower levels,
  • opportunity to try the independent action by the workers targeted for promotion,
  • ability to enhance the status of employees on a lower organizational level,
  • better quality and higher speed of decision making.
  • reduced time and improved quality of decisions,
  • increasing employee engagement,
  • increased use of knowledge and skills, improving employees competence and faster learning.


Principles of management by delegation

  • There shall be tasks reserved for implementation only by the top management of the organization (goal setting, strategy and organizational structure, long-term strategic planning, coordination of the various areas of activity, human resources policy)!
  • subordinates, with delegated powers bear personal responsibility for the actions, while the responsibility of superiors is limited to the supervision and control of the results!
  • It is necessary to control the exchange of information between superiors and employees!
  • managers should delegate not only simple tasks, but also more complex tasks!
  • Do not delegate the tasks which the employee does not know exactly!
  • Routine tasks should not dominate tasks delegated!


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  • Muir, J. (1995). Effective management through delegation. Work study, 44(7), 6-7.
  • Mullins, L. J. (2007). Management and organisational behaviour. Pearson education.
  • Nagar, V. (2002). Delegation and incentive compensation. The Accounting Review, 77(2), 379-395.
  • Telang, P. R., & Singh, M. P. (2009). Business modeling via commitments. In Service-Oriented Computing: Agents, Semantics, and Engineering (p. 111-125). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Urwick, L. F. (1922). The manager's span of control. Harvard Business Review, 34(3).