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Delegation and Responsibility for Managers

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Written by Andy Trainer– Wed 16 Jan 2008

Delegation is about letting employees make decisions and work on their own initiative. To be successful, employees must have the resources to complete a delegated task. This may mean providing training, tools and support.

Managers can delegate authority however they cannot delegate responsibility, this is important. Although an employee is responsible for meeting deadlines, goals and objectives, the Manager is still ultimately responsible for the success of the delegated task.

Delegation Benefits

  • Employees may do a better job when they feel personally accountable, even though responsibility ultimately rests with the individual who made the delegation.
  • Delegation can make an employee's work more varied and therefore motivate the employee.
  • Managers have more time to innovate and plan.
  • When delegation involves training and mentoring, the organisation will benefit from a more highly skilled workforce.
  • Employees will learn to be better decision makers given more responsibility.

Delegation Drawbacks

  • Managers may lack the knowledge or motivation to delegate.
  • Managers may choose the wrong tasks to delegate.
  • Managers may not communicate the task effectively, providing inadequate direction.
  • Some managers get stuck in the belief that "if you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself."
  • Managers may:
    • Lack trust in their employees
    • Fear being seen as lazy
    • Be reluctant to take risks
    • Fear competition

Any of the above may result in incomplete or incorrectly completed tasks.

The manager is ultimately responsible for delegation and must take responsibility for:

  • Delegating the wrong task
  • Delegating to the wrong person
  • Not providing proper guidance.

The employee is ultimately responsible for:

  • Doing the task incorrectly when given adequate resources, guidance or training.

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