Unclear delegations, partial delegations, delegations inconsistent with the results expected, and the hovering of superiors who refuse to allow subordinates to use their authority are among the many widely found weaknesses of delegation of authority.
Combine with these weaknesses untrained, inept, or weak subordinates, who go to their bosses for decisions and the shirking subordinates, who will not accept responsibility.
Add to these, the lack of plans, planning information, and incentives, and then all these together will partly explain the failure of delegation.
It shows, as is so generally the case in managing, that delegation does not stand alone, but is related to other aspects in the whole system of managing.
But most of the responsibility for weak delegation lies with superiors and, primarily, with top managers.
In overcoming these errors—and emphasizing the principles outlined above—the five following guides are practical in making delegation effective;
- Define assignments and delegate authority in the light of results expected.
- Select the person in the light of the job to be done. This is the purpose of the managerial function of staffing. It is important to remember that qualifications influence the nature of the authority delegated.
- Maintain open lines of communication. This means that there should be a free flow of information between the superior and the subordinate, and subordinates should be furnished with information with which to make decisions and properly interpret the authority delegated.
- Establish proper controls. But if controls are not to interfere with delegation, they must be relatively broad and designed to show deviations from plans rather than interfere with detailed actions of subordinates.
- Reward effective delegation and successful assumption of-authority.It is seldom sufficient to suggest that authority be delegated, or even to order that this be done. Managers should be ever watchful for means of rewarding both effective assumption of authority.
Although many of these rewards will be in terms of money, the granting of greater discretion and prestige—both in a given position and in promotion to a higher position—often works as a stronger incentive.