Learning Curve…

MBA – PM0013 : List & explain the 3 major issues related to delegation which need close scrutiny.

Posted on: March 2, 2012

MBA – PM0013 :   List & explain the 3 major issues related to delegation which need close scrutiny.

Answer :- The issues relating to delegation which need close scrutiny are:

1. What to delegate?

2. When to delegate?

3. How to delegate?

What to Delegate:

Delegation does not take place when a project manager is merely asked to go ahead with a project without authority. The project manager, in that case, is being merely asked to do a task and not manage a task. He cannot be expected to assume responsibility nor held accountable for results. He has nothing to sub-delegate nor can he demand results from others.

Authority has to be granted to make commit­ments, use resources, issue instructions, demand adherence and take necessary actions for the performance of tasks. As far as possible delegation should be in writing, and in case of institutional delegation this should always be in writing, it is true that some authority can be acquired by individuals by virtue of personal qualities and technical competence. How­ever, this can rarely happen between institutions. Institutional delegation has not only to be in writing and appear formal but should contain legal overtones too.

When authority is delegated a managerial position is created. The recipient of the authority now becomes a manager and can be expected to perform managerial functions. But mere assignment of the task and delegation of authority will not ensure performance unless the recipient considers it his moral obligation to produce results. This is what all of us refer to as responsibility, and it must have become clear by now that this is not a thing which can be delegated in writing – this is something which one undertakes by himself.

Though, one may legitimately expect responsibility to be passed on concurrently with delegation of authority, yet it may not necessarily happen this way. Responsibility is an attitude of mind which can­not be passed on in writing; and to that extent the delegator, whatever authority he may pass on, will still be responsible for the tasks from which he cannot absolve himself.

Thus responsibility cannot be delegated, but only authority can be delegated, and to the extent necessary for the accomplishment of the task. And since authority, like money, has to be used for a cause, it must likewise be accounted for in order to ensure its best use. This is referred to as accountability.So when authority is delegated, the delegate remains account­able to the delegator about the use of the authority.

This can ensure compliance of the delegator’s plans and directives and enable the delegator to discharge his responsibilities. Further, because the delegate is accountable, he invariably assumes the responsibilities, matching the extent of authority he receives. Where this does not happen, rather than with­drawing authority the incumbent should be replaced; for authority, as we have discussed, is essential for the accomplishment of the task.

When to Delegate:

Delegation, whether institutional or individual, enhances one’s capability of doing things. One stands to gain from delegation:

1. When one is simply overburdened and cannot handle all the tasks in the required time though one has the know-how;

2. When one does not have the know-how and is not interested in building up the same as it may not be of any use in future;

3. When the job is so specialized that it is either not possible to build up the capability or build it by the time it is needed;

4. When someone can do it better qualitatively, economically and on time;

5. When the work is not secret, or when delegation will not cause problems even if it is a secret;

6. When the intention is to develop staff or growth of ancillary organizations and there are capable individuals and organizations available; and

7. When the work is routine and the delegator’s time can be more profitably utilized by diverting his attention from routine areas.

In practice, however, delegation may not take place even though the situation may be ideally suited for delegation. Project managers may not be delegated requisite authorities which, in turn, may reduce them to dummies incapable of functioning effectively. Some owner organizations may attempt doing everything themselves. They may even build up a full-fledged project engineering division even though they may not have further projects in the pipeline and their main business is only the operation of the plant and not engineering of the same.

The problems which one has to often confront in a project management situation are:

1. What tasks to retain and what to pass on? What authority needs to be delegated for the performance of the tasks being passed on?

2. How to package the work satisfactorily so that there is no overlap and also nothing is left uncovered?

3. How to establish the trustworthiness of the delegate with whom no working relation­ship ever existed in the past?

4. How much authority can be shared without risking failure? How to make the delegate fully accountable morally and legally?

5. Will the delegate assume responsibility matching the authority delegated? If not, what could be done to make him see reason?

6. Which controls to be installed? Would the procedures for control be acceptable to the delegate? Would the controls in any way inhibit the initiative of the delegate?

7. How could the interventions be planned so as not to be considered as unnecessary interferences by the delegate?

8. How to ensure continuous flow of communication and how to make it prompt, accu­rate and to the point?

9. How to motivate the delegate to assume total responsibility and give best performance commensurate with the authority delegated?

How to Delegate:

To get the most from delegation, the delegate must be given a complete picture of what he has to do, how to do it and how much authority he has to get it done. It is also necessary that the entire thing is put on record as otherwise the delegate would not know what the delegator has in mind and also the basis for accountability will not be established. It is also quite possible that one might overstep the authority delegated, not necessarily in his anxiety to get a task completed faster or better, but merely to satisfy his egoistic needs or hunger for power. Only written delegation can provide the delegator the power to discipline the delegate should the occasion so arise.

Delegation, whether at individual or institutional level, involves a certain amount of bargaining. The delegator may like to pass on a ‘hot potato’ but the delegate would not like to accept it unless the return would more than compensate the trouble. However, what the delegate would consider adequate compensation may vary, and unless the delegator has a few options it may indeed call for tough bargaining.

Delegation, thus, is not a simple and a casual affair. To realize best results both the delegator and the delegate must have a proper appreciation of what is to be delegated, when delegation is called for and how delegation has to be made. If delegation is not properly done it may boomerang on the delegator, and instead of helping will hinder the progress of work.



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