A Step-By-Step Guide For Delegation Of Authority

Written By Shahzaib Arshad

Are you struggling to understand the delegation of authority? Or do you want to use it in your organization? Then this article is for you!

Assigning tasks to the right people is a valuable skill. Effective managers know how to assign tasks and delegate authority.

A manager cannot do everything by himself. He has to delegate the authority to others to meet the targets.

After a delegation of authority, he follows-up to see that things are going as expected.

Delegation Of Authority – An Overview:

This article throws light on the delegation of authority and how it works.

Here we are going to discuss the definition and features of the delegation of authority.

1. Defining Delegation Of Authority:

A process where a manager delegates the authority for a task to another employee.

Defining Delegation Of Authority
Defining Delegation Of Authority

Or it’s the sub-allocation of powers to subordinates to achieve effective results.

The authority moves downwards to subordinates and they are accountable for their doings.

Under the delegation of authority, the manager doesn’t surrender his authority. He only shares the responsibility.

2. Features Of The Delegation Of Authority:

To understand the delegation of authority a bit more, let’s take a thorough look at its features.

– Delegation is not about a manager giving up his whole authority. But he shares some of his authority with his subordinates.

– The manager has to do this to complete the responsibility entrusted to him.

– Delegation means giving the power to the subordinate. So he can take decisions being independent.

– The superior prescribes this power within certain limits. And the person has to act within these limits to complete his task.

– Depending on the situation, the manager has a right to expand the authority. Or he can also withdraw the authority.

– The manager cannot delegate his full authority to subordinate. Doing so will cause harm to his own position.

– The manager cannot delegate the authority which he does not own himself. He can only delegate the rights which he possesses.

– The delegation of authority is an art. It must obey all the fundamental rules of an organization.

Features Of The Delegation Of Authority
Features Of The Delegation Of Authority

– The delegation of authority can be either general or specific. And it can be oral or written.

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Elements Of Delegation Of Authority:

When it comes to the delegation of authority in an organization. There are three main elements of such delegation. Let us take a look at these elements.

1. Responsibility Is A Key Element In Delegation Of Authority:

When a manager assigns a specific task to his subordinate. This means he is assigning his subordinate with some responsibilities.

If the person who was responsible fails to complete his task. He won’t be accountable and he shouldn’t give excuses.

This is because responsibility flows upward in an organization. So a manager can assign these responsibilities to subordinates.

If the subordinate fails to carry out the task in a correct way. Then the blame falls on the manager himself.

2. Authority Is Important In Delegation Of Authority:

Authority is the power or a right which a person can use to divide the resources.

Authority Is Important
Importance Of Authority In Delegation Of Authority

The purpose is to take decisions. And to give orders to achieve the organizational objectives.

People who have the authority should be familiar with the scope of their authority. And they shouldn’t misuse it.

Authority is the right to give orders and get things done. The top-level management has the greatest authority.

Authority slides from top to bottom. It shows how a superior get work done from his subordinates. He explains what he expects from him and what he should do.

Delegation of authority doesn’t mean an escape from accountability. Accountability still rests with the person having the most authority.

3. Accountability Is Vital Element In Delegation Of Authority:

After the delegation of authority, the manager has to keep a check on the work of subordinates. Because he is accountable for the work done by his subordinates.

You cannot delegate accountability like authority. So if the subordinate fails to complete his task. Then it will be the manager’s fault.

Most accountable is the top-level management. To be accountable means to be innovative as well. Because the person will think out of the box to perform the best.

Accountability means being answerable for the result. One cannot escape from accountability. It arises from responsibility.

Methods To Delegate Authority:

Every organization has its own specific structure. There are many ways you can transfer responsibilities. By depending on the needs of your organization.

The following are some types of delegation you can use to assign tasks to team members.

1. Projects Can Help To Delegate Authority:

You can delegate authority by giving a group of employees a certain project.

They will have to complete this project from start to finish.

Projects Can Help To Delegate Authority
Projects Can Help To Delegate Authority

E.g. in the marketing department, the director assigns a campaign to the project manager.

The project manager gathers a team of designers to work on the project.

2. Departments Can Be Proved Useful In Delegation Of Authority:

You can delegate authority by letting another employee watch a whole department.

For example, a marketing director gets the authority of a marketing department.

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3. Analysis Can Be Useful Method For Delegation Of Authority: 

When you need more information, you can ask employees to do detailed research on the topic.

Managing a project, you can ask an analyst of the department to research statistics.

So you can use these demographic statistics for your campaign’s intended audience.

4. Decision Making In Authority Delegation:

While you have to focus on some other work, you can ask one of your employees to make certain decisions.

Decision Making In Authority Delegation
Decision Making In Authority Delegation

As a marketing director, you can ask the assistant director to hire employees.

5. Administrative Processes Can Help In Authority Delegation:

You can delegate authority in the form of administrative tasks. These administrative tasks can be even data entry tasks.

As a manager, you can assign the marketing assistant to schedule meetings and emails

The delegation of authority can be either on-going or temporary. Employees complete temporary tasks on a short-term basis.

But the on-going tasks have long-term responsibilities. These responsibilities become a permanent part of the employee’s role.

Forms Of The Delegation Of Authority:

Delegation of authority can take place in three forms

1. Top To The Bottom Delegation:

In this form, superiors delegate work or tasks to their subordinates. This is the most common form of delegation.

2. Bottom To The Top Delegation:

This form of delegation takes place in informal groups within a formal organization.

There is a strong force of attraction between group members. And they prefer to obey their group members more than obeying a superior.

So managers should be careful while issuing orders to subordinates.

Bottom To The Top Delegation
Bottom To The Top Delegation

A manager’s motivating style should be convincing. And he should convince the members about the coinciding needs. The needs of the group and organization coincide.

Thus the subordinates will try to produce better results.

3. Lateral Delegation:

After the managers delegate the authority to subordinates in the hierarchy.

The subordinates may further delegate the tasks to people at the same level in an informal way.

A manager shares his responsibility and authority with managers of other departments. This is the lateral delegation of authority.

Peer groups, in this case, come together and carry out the task as a team.

Principles Of Delegation:

There are certain principles serving as effective guidelines for effective delegation of authority:

1. Unity Of Command:

This means that only one superior should have the right to command a subordinate.

In this connection, a subordinate should get duties assigned by only one superior. And he should be accountable for his performance to that superior.

2. Functional Clarity:

There should be a clear definition of three things. The functions to perform, the ways of operations, and expected results.

3. Matching Authority With Responsibility:

There is an interconnection between authority and responsibility. So there is a need to delegate equal authority according to responsibility.

Authority should be adequate and matching with the abilities of the person.

Matching Authority With Responsibility
Matching Authority With Responsibility

4. Responsibility Is Not Delegate-Able:

You can delegate the authority but you cannot delegate responsibility.

The manager cannot neglect how the subordinates are performing delegated duties. The ultimate responsibility still remains with him.

5. Principle Of Communication:

Communication matters a lot. Because a misunderstood responsibility can be dangerous.

So the responsibility and authority need to be well-defined. The manager should keep the communication open. So that he can issue directions and receive feedback.

Process Of Delegating Authority

The process of delegation involves the following steps:

1. Determine The Goals:

First of all, you have to establish the goal of the position so the person knows the need for delegation.

Determine The Goals
Determine The Goals In Delegation

If you are doing delegation in the sales department. The goal should be clear. It can be either sales promotion or sales retention.

2. Defining Responsibility:

After the need of the job gets defined. You have to determine the responsibilities of individuals according to their respective tasks.

This way you can identify the bosses and subordinates. So you will know to whom you can issue the instructions.

3. Defining Authority:

You need to define the authority. So that people can discharge responsibilities related to jobs.

4. Motivating Subordinates:

As a manager, your duties won’t end by delegating authority to subordinates.

You will have to ensure that people are willing to complete the jobs assigned to them. So that the organizational goals don’t go wasted.

You have to give your subordinates the motivation to work with enthusiasm.

Motivating Subordinates
Motivating Subordinates

For this purpose, you can use financial and non-financial incentives to motivate them.

5. Hold Accountability:

You need to check the subordinates’ activities to see their progress. And if needed provide them with guidance.

As a manager, you can hold them accountable for the tasks assigned to them.

But still, you will be accountable to your superiors. For the successful completion of the project.

6. Training The Subordinates:

The subordinates may not be able to carry out the delegated tasks in an effective way.

In such a case, you would have to organize training programs. So that you can help them to enhance their knowledge of the task assigned.

Training The Subordinates
Training The Subordinates

7. Establishing Control:

In the end, there is a need to establish specific standards of performance. So the subordinates can assess their performance against these standards.

This will also help them to keep control of their activities. And they will keep their activities in coordination with organizational goals.


Delegation of authority is necessary as it helps managers to simplify their tasks.

It also enables an organization to do much within a short space of time.

Yet, management should ensure that the delegated authority and expected results are worthwhile.

Subordinates should be also equipped with everything to give their best performance.

Do comment and tell us about your reviews regarding the delegation of authority.

Last Updated on 2 years by Shahzaib Arshad

Shahzaib Arshad
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