Elements of Delegation

There are three distinct elements of delegation : a) assignment of task or duties, b) conferment of powers or authority, and c) creation of obligation, responsibility or accountability. These are discussed below.

a)     Assignment of task or duties: In the first step, the delegator (superior) assigns duties to delegate (subordinate). While assigning the duties, the delegator must be clear in his mind as to what tasks should he assign to subordinates. Thus, the work or task to be assigned is identified and clearly defined before it is assigned. For example, when a sales manager asks his subordinate to set up a divisional sales office, he must explain clearly the objectives, the sales territory, etc.


b)    Conferment of power of authority: Granting of authority is the second step in delegation. Authority may be defined as the powers and rights granted to another to perform the delegated work. These powers may include the authority to acquire necessary resources for the performance of the assigned work. Without adequate authority, the subordinate (delegate) cannot be expected to perform his task or duties. For example, in the above case when the sales manager asks his subordinate to set up a divisional office he has to give him the right to procure and use necessary resources.


c)     Accountability: Once the duties are assigned and authority is given to a subordinate, the delegator creates an obligation/accountability to perform the tasks. The obligation to carry out the task and bear responsibility in terms of the standards established and specified is known as accountability. Thus, accountability is the obligation of an individual to render an account of the fulfilment of his responsibilities to the principal to whom he reports. The subordinate is always answerable to the superior for the task assigned to him. He cannot shift his responsibility to anyone else, that is accountability is fixed to the position. Thus, the superior can control the performance of his subordinate through accountability. The delegate is accountable to his delegator through reports, meetings and evaluation.

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