Everything you need to know about the barriers, obstacles and problems of delegation of authority. The process of delegation of authority is often retarded due to certain difficulties.
Some of them arise out of the personal attitudes of the managers or superiors towards delegation and some are the result of the reluctance on the part of the subordinates to accept delegated authority.
Adequate authority at different levels of management is important for the efficient performance of duties. However, in actual practice, adequate delegation is not possible.
There are many factors which make a superior to withhold authority rather than to delegate. Many managers are reluctant to delegate authority and many subordinates are reluctant to accept it. Basically, delegation may be hampered due to the weakness in the organisation structure.
Various barriers to delegation can be grouped into three main headings:- 1. Barriers Related to Superiors or Delegator 2. Barriers Related to Subordinates or Delegatee 3. Barriers Related to Organisation.
Some of the barriers related to superiors or delegator are:-
i. Wanting to do Things Personally ii. Insecurity iii. Retention of Power iv. Lack of Confidence in Subordinates v. Unwillingness to Set Standards of Control vi. Unwillingness to Delegate Authority vii. Acceptance of the Indispensable Person Theory viii. Inability to Assume the Managers Role ix. Fear of Competition x. Unfamiliarity with the Art of Delegation? xi. Desire to Make Identity xii. Traditions of Enterprise and a Few Others.
Some of the barriers related to subordinates or delegatee are:-
i. Lack of Confidence ii. Fear of Making Mistakes iii. Lack of Incentives iv. Absence of Access to Resources v. Convenience vi. Dependence on Managers for Decisions vii. Inadequate Information viii. Excessive Work Load ix. Insufficient Motivation.
Some of the barriers related to organisation are:-
i. Size of the Organisation ii. No Precedent of Delegation iii. Degree of Centralisation or Decentralisation iv. Inadequate Planning v. Defective Organisation Structure vi. Splintered Authority vii. Lack of Unity of Command viii. Ineffective Control Techniques ix. Non-Availability or Competent Managers x. Environmental Influences.
Barriers, Obstacles and Problems of Delegation of Authority: Related to Delegator, Subordinates or Delegatee and Organisation
Barriers to Delegation – Related to Superiors, Subordinates and Organisation
Though delegation increases efficiency of the organisation by dividing work amongst the organisational members (according to their capabilities), it is not free from obstacles. Various barriers to delegation can be grouped into three main headings.
I. Barriers related to superiors or delegator
II. Barriers related to subordinates or delegatee
III. Barriers related to organisation
Despite knowing how important it is to delegate, superiors, sometimes, do not delegate responsibility to subordinates because of the following reasons:
1. Wanting to do Things Personally:
Some managers do not delegate because they feel they can work better than others. Since ultimate responsibility is of the delegator, they prefer doing the work themselves rather than getting it done through others.
If managers feel subordinates can perform better than them, they avoid delegation. Their inabilities to take decisions creates a feeling of insecurity and, therefore, they fear to delegate.
3. Retention of Power:
Some managers like to take added responsibility, make their importance felt in the organisation and want subordinates to approach them to get their problems solved. The desire to retain power affects the efficiency of delegation process.
4. Lack of Confidence in Subordinates:
The reward for risk is return. Unless managers take the risk of subordinates not performing well, they cannot develop skilled managers in future. A manager who does not take risk in subordinates and lacks confidence in them will not be able to delegate effectively.
5. Unwillingness to Set Standards of Control:
Having delegated the duties, managers remain accountable for overall performance of the work. They supervise activities of subordinates to ensure that actual performance is not against planned performance. A manager who fails to establish standards of control will not be able to effectively delegate work to subordinates.
The following barriers arise on account of the subordinates:
1. Lack of Confidence:
Some subordinates do not want to take responsibility for the fear of not being able to perform well. They lack confidence and do not want to take any risk. They prefer to depend on the superiors to make decisions.
2. Fear of Making Mistakes:
If the subordinate’s fear that they will make mistakes in carrying out the delegated responsibilities, this fear dissuades them from taking added responsibility.
3. Lack of Incentives:
Motivation, through financial and non-financial incentives, makes delegation effective. Subordinates are reluctant to accept delegation in the absence of incentives.
4. Absence of Access to Resources:
If subordinates do not have access to resources (financial and non-financial) to carry out the assigned work, they do not accept delegation of responsibilities. This happens when there is delegation of responsibility without commensurate authority.
Sometimes, subordinates prefer that work is done by superiors for the sake of convenience rather than assuming responsibility for the same. They simply want their superiors to make the decisions.
The organisation structure provides the following barriers to the effective process of delegation:
1. Size of the organisation – A small-sized organisation does not have too many jobs to delegate to subordinates.
2. No precedent of delegation – Merely because organisations have not earlier been following the practice of delegation, sometimes, they continue with the practice of not delegating the jobs.
3. Degree of centralisation or decentralisation – Efficient delegation is affected by the degree to which organisation distributes the decision-making power to various organisational units. A highly centralised organisation is obstructive to the process of effective delegation.
Barriers to Delegation – Hesitation on the Part of the Superior and on the Part of the Subordinates
The reluctance of the superior to delegate and the avoidance of the subordinates to accept delegation are the major barriers to delegation as stated below:
i. Fears of loss of power – Managers are usually reluctant to delegate authority because of losing their power. Fear of competition from subordinates hinders the process of proper delegation.
ii. Lack of confidence in subordinates – A manager may not have confidence in the capability and compe-tence of his subordinates. He may underestimate the ability of his subordinates.
iii. Fear of being exposed – A manager may feel that his deficiencies could be exposed if he delegates his authority. He himself tries to do everything as he fears that his subordinates may outshine him.
iv. Lack of ability to direct – A manager may lack the ability to give proper direction and clear instructions due to defective communication.
v. Autocratic attitude – A manager may be an autocrat and unwilling to delegate his authority. He may not be interested in sharing authority with others.
vi. Passion for dominance – A manager may have a passion for power and dominance towards his subordi-nates. He feels that he would be weak if authority is delegated.
vii. Inability of the subordinate – The subordinate may not have the ability to accept any new work. The superior, who knows this fact, hesitates to delegate powers.
viii. Absence of developed control system – The superior wants to measure the performance of his subor-dinates. This is possible only when there exists a well-developed control system. The superior hesitates to delegate his authority in the absence of a proper control system.
i. Fear of criticism – A subordinate may refuse to accept authority due to fear of criticism for his mistakes. A subordinate tries to avoid criticism for any likely mistakes.
ii. Lack of self-confidence – A subordinate may lack self-confidence due to fear of failure. He may hesitate to accept new responsibilities and challenges.
iii. Lack of essential information and resources – A subordinate may hesitate to accept new assignment, in case he is not given the necessary resources and information. A subordinate apprehends that he may not discharge his duties properly in the absence of adequate resources (or facilities).
iv. Lack of motivation – A subordinate may not accept a new assignment unless he gets proper guidance from his superior. A subordinate refuses to accept responsibility when the organizational climate is not sufficiently motivating.
v. Lack of incentives – A subordinate may refuse to accept responsibility when he does not receive any per-sonal benefit by accepting the assignment. A subordinate expects monetary and non-monetary incentives for the best results on his part.
vi. Inability to take independent decisions – A subordinate hesitates to accept responsibility when he is incapable of taking independent decisions.
vii. Overburdened with work – A subordinate may hesitate to accept more responsibility as he is already overbur-dened with work. In spite of his desire, he may not be in a position to accept new and demanding responsibilities.
Barriers to Delegation – Reasons which Act as Barrier for Effective Delegation of Authority
Though delegation is a powerful tool to motivate the subordinates and to develop managerial skills in them, adequate care is to be exercised. Following are some of the reasons which act as barriers for effective delegation of authority, to which both superiors and subordinates are responsible.
The superiors resist to delegate because of the following reasons:
I. Lack of confidence in subordinates
II. The “I can do it better myself fallacy”
III. Lack of ability to direct
IV. Aversion to risk
V. Absence of selective controls
Subordinates Resistance to Delegation:
Subordinates attitude and role are also important in the process of delegation.
Sometimes, subordinates may avoid responsibility and block the delegation process for the following reasons:
i. The subordinates lack self-confidence. The fear that they will get into trouble in the event of failure puts them in a still worse situation.
ii. The subordinate is not offered any incentives or benefits for assuming additional responsibilities.
iii. The subordinate finds it easier to ask the boss what to do rather than doing himself.
iv. The subordinate fears criticism for mistakes. Since there is a chance of making an error, for the sake of security subordinates try to avoid additional responsibilities.
v. For fear of over burdening himself, he may not show any interest to accept new responsibilities.
vi. The subordinate lacks the information and resources needed to do the job successfully. Some managers with a view to let down their subordinates may deliberately make the delegation unclear.
There are also organizational factors which affect delegation of authority. They are beyond the control of individual managers. They will have to work within the limits of these factors.
Some of these factors which affect delegation are as follows:
a. Defective organization structure and non-clarity of authority responsibility relationship.
b. Inadequate and insufficient planning.
c. Infringement of the principles of unity of command
d. Splintered authority.
e. Lack of effective control techniques.
f. Non availability of competent managerial personnel.
Barriers to Delegation of Authority
Every superior is expected to delegate part of his duties and responsibility to his subordinates. A single person cannot perform all the work. So, delegation is a very important characteristic of the organisation.
The proper delegation of authority is made only at the time of a proper balance between feelings of the superior and subordinates.
The following are the reasons for the lack of willingness on the part of the superior to delegate authority:
i. Perfectionism – Many superiors think that he is better than others. This is true to some extent. The reason is that the superior may have had experience in doing and developed a degree of skill. If such a practice is followed by a superior, he is not a loyal employee of the organisation. He should open the door to the subordinate to develop his abilities by delegating authority.
ii. Autocratic Attitude – Some superiors prefer retain powers in their hands. These persons don’t have belief in the delegation of authority and they interfere with the limited authority of their subordinates.
iii. Directions – Many superiors lack of the ability to direct the subordinates. Subordinates may misinterpret the instructions which the superior gives. Then, the superiors cannot get the expected efficiency from the subordinate.
iv. Confidence – Superiors also tend to show lack confidence in subordinates. In the society life cannot he lived without reposing in the ability of other so, each superior is expected delegate his powers to his sub-ordinates. If the delegation is not made, the superior has no chance to gain experience from delegation of authority. Confidence is developed gradually on the basis of success of the delegation of authority.
v. Control – The superior has control over his subordinates. He wants to retain the control over his subordinates and keep up the importance of his role. Hence he hesitates to delegate his authority. Besides, the superior feels that he might be dominated if he delegates his authority.
vi. Avoidance of Risk – Risk may arise through the delegation of authority to a subordinate. Whatever maybe the risk, the superior will have to take the responsibility for it. But only few managers are ready to run the risk.
vii. Competition – Subordinates learn much than the superior by taking advantage of delegation of authority. This results in the emergence of more talented persons than the superior. This is not liked by the superior and he avoids competition in future.
viii. Inability of the Subordinate – The subordinate does not have any ability to accept any new work. The superior, who knows this fact, hesitates to delegate powers.
ix. Inability of the Superior – If the superior is an inefficient person, the work method and procedures designed by him are likely to be faulty. So, the superior wants to keep all the authority with himself.
Sometimes, the subordinates are not willing to accept delegation even though the superiors are very much interested in delegation.
The reasons for not accepting the authority by the subordinates are given below:
i. Love of spoon-feeding – If a subordinate has been given a chance to take a decision, he may not like to decide things himself.
ii. Easier to ask – Subordinates often find it easy to ask their superiors for an answer than to find it out for themselves. Some superiors will accept only one solution to a problem and allow the subordinates to find out other solutions by themselves. In such a situation, a subordinate does the work effectively and approaches his superior for an answer.
iii. Fear of criticism – Sometimes, a subordinate may fear that even for a silly mistake in a decision, his superior may criticize him. This suppresses the initiatives of the subordinate and proves drastic to his self-confidence.
iv. Lack of information (or) resource – A subordinate may hesitate to accept new work due to lack of information or resources to do the work effectively.
v. Lack of self-confidence – Lack of self-confidence in a subordinate is also one of the reasons for not accepting any authority.
vi. Other work – Subordinate may feel that they will not be able to finish any additional work along with the existing work. Subordinates think that if they accept authority, they may be forced to accept more work in the future.
vii. Inadequate incentives – A subordinate may not come forward to accept any authority if there is not personal gain in doing so.
viii. Fear of failure – Some subordinates feel that they may fail and so they do not want to accept additional responsibilities.
Barriers to Delegation – Obstacles on the Part of Mangers and on the Part of Subordinates
Although delegation appears to be a simple process certain difficulties do crop up. The obstacles to delegation may arise either out of the unfavourable attitude of the employer or out of the hesitation of the employees.
Such obstacles are discussed below:
A. On the Part of Managers (Delegators)
1. Unwillingness to Delegate Authority:
Some managers do not want to delegate authority because they may feel that they alone can do the job better.
2. Acceptance of the Indispensable Person Theory:
A manager may feel that he is really such an indispensable person to the organization that by delegating authority his importance would not be felt and that his influence will be on the wane.
3. Desire to Dominate:
Some may enjoy being too busy with work, whether routine or exceptional. They may like the subordinate bringing all matters to them for approval.
4. Temperamental Aversion to Taking a Chance:
It is true that the subordinates sometimes may make wrong decisions. Any temperamental aversion to take a risk of wrong decision on the part of delegatees may come in the way of proper delegation.
5. Inability to Assume the Managers Role:
In many cases persons are promoted to managerial positions because of their ability to make decisions. But even after promotion, they may continue to make decisions on behalf of their subordinates, instead of concentrating on more important issues to be decided by the manager alone.
6. Lack of Confidence in Subordinates:
If subordinates feel different and hesitate to accept the delegated authority, managers may withhold authority. If the subordinates are incapable of using authority properly, the quality of performance may suffer.
7. Fear of Being Exposed:
If the delegating managers are not efficient, delegation may bring to light their poor procedures and practices. Because of this fear, they may not be willing to delegate authority.
8. Fear of Competition:
Some managers may feel that subordinates are more efficient and that they may outshine them and overshadow their position in the organization.
B. On the Part of the Subordinates:
1. Dependence on Managers for Decisions:
If subordinates work under dominating executives, they may not have sufficient experience in making decisions themselves. They may find it easier to take orders from their managers even on matters delegated to them rather than on taking independent decisions. They like to play safe.
2. Fear of Criticism:
If the subordinates feel that they will be in for trouble even if there is a minor mistake, they may be unwilling to accept responsibility.
3. Inadequate Information:
If the subordinates feel that they may not get the needed information and resources for doing a job, they may hesitate to accept delegation. If delegatees are allowed to participate in decision-making process, they would feel enthusiastic in implementing them.
4. Lack of Self-Confidence:
Lack of self-confidence on the part of subordinates to perform responsible tasks makes them unwilling to accept responsibility.
5. Absence of Positive Incentive:
If there is no positive incentive, the subordinates may show little interest in assuming delegated authority and responsibilities.
Barriers to Delegation – Problems in Delegation and the Obstacles in Subordinates Accepting Delegation
An authority is not self-acting. In practice several obstacles come in the way of effective delegation. Although the boss and subordinate agree on the desirability of transferring certain duties and authority, yet for certain reasons the transfer does not actually take place. For certain reasons the boss is not willing to transfer authority to a subordinate and for certain other reasons the subordinate shrinks from accepting it, even though the boss is prepared to turn over authority.
Deposited the benefits of delegation, in practice there are many problems. Usually a person entrusted with certain specific activities desires to perform all the activities by himself. Promotions to higher posts are made partly as a results of the executives’ willingness to make decisions as demonstrated in the past.
After getting promotion, such an executive naturally continues to be decision maker and refrains from delegating, after promotion, such a person finds it difficult to train others also to excel in their own performance. Many managers want to be remembered for their outstanding ability in their respective work. Such managers hinder their own growth and full managerial development, through their failure to appreciate that others also can do things well.
Some executives want to take part in almost every decision and make their presence felt at every company meeting. The desire to dominate presents another problem area. The extent of delegation of authority is also restricted by the unwillingness of the manager to accept even calculated risks. It is always necessary to accept the risk that a subordinate may make wrong decisions.
Without such acceptance, an executive cannot delegate authority successfully. The delegator’s attitude towards subordinates is also important as well. Some executives think that subordinates cannot use the authority properly.
Following are some of the obstacles or problems in delegation:
1. Desire for Outstanding Performance Standard:
An executive who expects very high standards of performance is naturally tempted to perform himself any activity that he can do better than his subordinates. Delegation revolves around the unconscious acceptance of the “indispensable man” theory. In many cases the delegation of authority is not practiced as the manager feels, that he is an indispensable person in the organisation.
2. The Dominance Desire:
Desire to dominate, which is very strong in certain executives, unconsciously restricts such executives from delegating. Some executives want to take part in almost every decision and make their presence felt on every occasion. Such executives want to work under pressure and keep themselves busy with appointments and insist on subordinates approaching them with matters for approval.
They wish to make their presence felt everywhere in the organisation and they feel satisfied when they participate almost in every decision. This tendency results in overwork on the part of such executives. Power centralizes around them and others hardly get any opportunity for their development.
3. Fear of Subordinate’s Potential Growth/Incompetency:
The subconscious fear that subordinate will prove superior to the executive himself prevents such an executive from delegating. The fear of potential growth of subordinate acts against the delegation, for reasons, the delegator thinks if the subordinate is promoted he will lose one of his competent assistants and he thinks that the subordinate may occupy his own position or even may become his boss.
Even buy withholding the authority and assignment of important duties the boss limits the possibility of his subordinate’s potential growth. But this is unjustified and against the interest of the organisation. This fear can be removed if the position of the boss is made more influential and secure.
4. Lack of Confidence in Subordinates:
The next important reason is lack of confidence in the subordinate which may be subjective and almost unconscious. If the delegator thinks that the subordinates are incompetent and unexperienced, he should arrange a training and systematic coaching programme to enable them to learn the techniques of performance. Feeling of non-confidence is baseless Therefore, he must releases some authority and assign duty to the subordinate.
5. Lack of Trust towards Subordinates:
Delegation implies trustful attitude on the part of superiors and subordinates. Quite often the superiors do not wish to delegate wisely, because they do not trust the subordinates.
6. Lack of Receptiveness:
A manager who knows how to delegate must be able to welcome others ideas and compliment the ingenuity of his subordinates.
7. Lack of Willingness to Let Go:
A manager who effectively delegates authority should release the right to make decisions to subordinates. It is quite common among managers to make decisions for posts which they have already left.
8. Unwillingness to Accept Calculated Risk:
Some executives do not part with authority as they are not willing to accept calculated risk. They avoid any chance of taking risk of mistakes. Wrong judgement by subordinates is possible and the boss is likely to be held responsible for the acts of his subordinates. This limits the scope of delegation.
The executives should view the delegation as a means of developing his subordinates, to liberate their energies and build up a real management team. He must be prepared to accept all such calculated risks and encourage and guide his subordinates to take independent decisions, and to exercise their initiative and judgement.
9. Inability to Direct:
Executive’s lack of ability to direct is another barrier to successful delegation. The executive who wishes to delegate must think ahead and visualize the work situation, formulate objectives and general plans of action and then communicate them to his subordinates.
10. Absence of Adequate Control System:
Another obstacle in delegation is the absence of selective control which provides warning of impending difficulties. Since a good executive is always sensitive to his continuing obligation, even though the work is delegated, he obviously wants to be sure that he will know serious troubles in advance so that he may take necessary steps to overcome them.
If he finds control system is not adequate and the atmosphere is not congenial and does not keep him informed, he restricts the scope of delegation to avoid risk. The desirability of a sensitive system of control for effective delegation in the organisation is therefore very obvious.
Thus most of the obstacles or problems in effective delegation generally arise out of the executive’s psychological attitudes.
Delegation is a two sided relationship. Even when an executive is ready to turn authority or willing to delegate authority a subordinate may shrink or may be reluctant to accept it, for the following possible reasons.
1. Dependence on the Superior:
Making a wise decision involves hard mental work and careful judgement. But many times the sub-ordinate does not want to bother to analyse a problem and use his mind to take a decision himself. On the other hand he finds it easier to easier to ask his boss and depend upon him. He invariably seeks his advice before doing.
2. Fear of Criticism:
Another important factor which restricts an individual from accepting greater responsibility is of criticism for mistakes.
3. Lack of Self-Confidence:
Lack of self-confidence and initiative on the part of subordinate restricts the scope of delegation. This may be partly because the subordinates are not well qualified and competent enough and partly because they do not have adequate resources and information at their disposal. Therefore it is necessary to select only competent subordinates, train them properly and provide them with necessary power, information and resources for taking independent decisions.
However, the delegator should also create an atmosphere free from fear and frustration. This will build up the confidence among subordinates so that they will take initiative and interest in taking independent decisions, exercise their judgement and will get opportunity to develop themselves to use their skills. Building of self-confidence is very essential for the enlargement and effective delegation.
4. Lack of Positive Incentives:
Accepting new responsibility involves mental work, emotional pressure, extra risk and consuming more time and energy. No subordinate would like to take more responsibility without any additional tangible or intangible incentives. Therefore, additional payment, promotion, acknowledged status, recognition in the organisation or some other tangible or intangible or incentives must follow the delegation, in order to enable them to accept the new responsibility enthusiastically.
5. Excessive Work Load:
Another obstacle in accepting responsibility may be that the subordinate may be overloaded with work.
6. Feeling of Inadequacy of Resources:
Most men hesitate to accept responsibility when they believe that they lack in the necessary information and resources to do a good job.
Thus, there is a variety of possible reasons why a subordinate may hesitate to accept further responsibilities. Therefore, there is a need to analyse objectively the specific individuals involved and the factors that are likely to affect their reactions to a change in the delegation of authority.
If the delegation is required to be made really effective, the manager should not only give due attention to the principles of delegation but recognize the obstacles in practical delegation also. He should try to create an atmosphere wherein both the boss and the subordinate are prepared to give and accept the authority and responsibility enthusiastically.
Barriers to Delegation – Reluctance to Delegate and Reluctance on the Part of Subordinates
Delegation is not easy to accomplish. It runs into certain obstacles. The manager who recognises them is in a better position to overcome them. Some of the obstacles arise within the manager himself and others through the attitude of the subordinates. Therefore, in spite of good intentions, the transfer of authority from the superior to the subordinate does not take place.
Some of the obstacles in the way of delegation are summarised below:
1. Reluctance to Delegate:
The reluctance on the part of the executive to delegate, although he pays ‘lip service’ to the need of delegation, depends on his personality. We shall list the reasons why superiors are reluctant to delegate authority.
An executive may feel that he can do a job better himself. This is particularly true if he has done the job in the past and has developed a degree of skill which makes the initial efforts of a subordinate appear clumsy and inadequate. In such a situation, he may stick to the old cliche, “If you want a job done well, do it yourself”. He is not a manager in the true sense.
The longer the manager continues to do the job well, the longer the period until someone else is able to take over and he can then do some more important business. Therefore, he must accept the fact that someone else is capable of filling his shoes, and perhaps even of doing a better job of it.
ii. Autocratic Attitude:
An executive may be a power-worshipping autocrat, who believes in the least delegation of authority, and who interferes with the limited authority of his subordinates.
Many managers have difficulty in directing the efforts of other people. They may be impatient. Others may misinterpret the instructions which they give. Therefore, an executive who lacks ability to direct cannot direct however much he may wish to do so.
Superiors often lack confidence in their subordinates for jobs they have not done before. So a manager who has no confidence in his subordinates does not delegate. But if delegations are not made, the future manager has no opportunity to gain experience. Confidence is built up gradually and on the basis of success.
One reason superiors resist delegation is the possibility that serious damage will be done before they find out about it. To prevent this controls are necessary.
vi. Temperamental Aversion to Take Risk:
It is true that risk is involved in delegating a job to a subordinate. The manager may have temperamental aversion to taking a chance. Such a manager will be reluctant to delegate anything to anyone unless he adjusts himself emotionally as well as intellectually to the element of risk.
Some managers fear that if their subordinates learn too much they will become rivals. The obstacle is usually unexpressed and may be unconscious. It is very real nevertheless.
2. Reluctance on the Part of Subordinates:
Delegation is not always welcomed or carried through effectively by subordinates.
A subordinate may shrink from accepting, even when the boss is ready and able to delegate authority, for the following reasons:
i. Easier to Ask:
Subordinates often find it easier to ask their superior for an answer than to figure it out for themselves. This is particularly true with some superiors – those who will accept only one answer to a problem – their own. In such a situation a subordinate may find that it does not pay to work out a problem. Rather, it is more effective to go to the superior for an answer.
ii. Fear of Criticism:
Subordinates sometimes fear criticism on the part of their superiors. This fear is often justified. In fact, some superiors tend to criticize any action taken by a subordinate. This discourages initiative, causes resentment and destroys a subordinate’s self-confidence.
iii. Lack of Information or Resources:
A subordinate may hesitate to accept a new assignment if he believes that he lacks the necessary information and resources to do a good job.
Subordinates may avoid delegation because they feel that they will not be able to do an additional task along with those which they presently have been assigned. This may be a perfectly legitimate reason. Unless the requirements for other tasks are relaxed or deadlines adjusted, the subordinate who avoids further delegation in this situation is wise.
v. Lack of Self-Confidence and Fear of Failure:
Lack of self- confidence also stands in the way of some people in accepting a delegation. Such subordinates often feel that they will fail, and so do not want additional responsibilities.
vi. Lack of Positive Incentive:
Subordinates need some system of reward for the acceptance and successful completion of delegated tasks. Such rewards are not always automatically provided. A successful completion of work is taken in stride and no mention is made of it. Some superiors systematically avoid praise.
In such circumstances, positive inducements and incentives are lacking or are inadequate to prompt a subordinate to take an additional load. It is the responsibility of the superior to provide inducements in the form of pay increase, or improved opportunity for promotion, a fancy title, acknowledged status in the organisation, or personal recognition and approval by the boss.
All these obstacles show that the relationship between superior and subordinate is personal, and delegation works substantially as it is intended to work.
Barriers to Delegation – Why Managers are Not Inclined to Delegate and Why Subordinates are Not Inclined to Accept Delegation
I. Why Managers are Not Inclined to Delegate:
If a manager has been on the job for a number of years and has gained mastery over all aspects of the task, he begins to think that only he can manage the tasks entrusted to him. The feeling that everyone looks up to him for guidance may be a big morale booster for him.
The manager may have grown so much habituated to exercise authority that he just does not want to pass that authority to subordinates.
If a manager lacks ability to plan and execute his work, he fears that delegation of the task to subordi-nates may expose his incompetence, and endanger his own position as manager.
The manager knows that whether he performs a task himself or through his subordinates, he will ultimately have to bear responsibility and accountability for performance of the job. Reluctance to be answerable for performance by subordinates discourages him from delegating authority to subordi-nates.
The manager might fear that delegation of authority to subordinates might dilute their sense of respect for him. What is more, it might bring down his relevance for them—they might cease to seek his advice or suggestion in respect of performance of their work.
Subordinates know that after they agree to accept delegated authority, they will themselves have to make decisions about performance of the tasks assigned to them. This will lead to bearing responsibil-ity and accountability for their performance. They think it is safer to carry out orders of the manager rather than having to do it themselves.
Subordinates have a sense of fear that, after accepting delegation, even the slightest mistake by them in decision-making may invite criticism and ridicule from coworkers and superiors. For a major fault in decision-making they may have to suffer monetary penalty, even loss of job.
Subordinates may fear that after acceptance of delegation, they may not be able to get required infor-mation or resources to perform the tasks assigned to them. In other words, delegation of authority may only be assignment of tasks, and no delegation of matching authority to access resources.
Subordinates may have a lurking fear that their promotion to higher position after delegation may not be liked by the colleagues with whom they have worked for years. They may not accept his newly granted authority and try to fail him in his performance.
Why, the subordinates may think, they should accept delegated authority if it does not bring them adequate monetary or social incentives? If delegation of authority only brings them a token increase in salary or, even with substantial monetary increment, moves them away from their kith and kin, they would more likely not accept delegation.
Barriers to Delegation – Attitudes of Superiors and Attitudes of Subordinates
The process of delegation of authority is often retarded due to certain difficulties. Some of them arise out of the personal attitudes of the managers or superiors towards delegation and some are the result of the reluctance on the part of the subordinates to accept delegated authority.
There are managers who are reluctant to delegate authority. They lack certain personal attributes or attitudes.
The following attitudes are necessary on the part of the superiors for effective delegation:
A superior should allow others a try for their ideas. He welcomes ideas from others, modifies them, and encourages them to go ahead with them.
ii. Willingness to Delegate:
A superior should not be reluctant to release decision making power to his subordinates. He should concentrate on strategic and routine tasks to his subordinates, even though he could accomplish them in a better way.
This is hard to practise because it is human nature to have many irons in the fire. Lack of this attitude will strengthen the superior’s grip on the organisation but will make his subordinates dependent upon him. A manager should allow his subordinates to take independent decisions all by themselves.
iii. Willingness to Let Others Make Mistakes:
A subordinate’s mistakes may affect the enterprise or his career. Such mistakes should not be allowed by a superior. A subordinate, however, should be allowed to make mistakes and their costs should be charged to investment in his development. Very serious or repeated mistakes can be avoided without negating delegation.
Patient counselling, helping him to analyse the situation, will stand the subordinates in good stead. A stringent check on the subordinates to assure that no mistakes are ever made will make true delegation impossible.
iv. Willingness to Repose Confidence in Subordinates:
Delegation implies attitude between a superior and a subordinate. If a superior does not place confidence in his subordinates and doubts their judgement or ability to handle or comprehend a situation, he may not like to delegate. In such a situation, he should train them or else he should have more competent selection of staff in whom he can trust. Sometimes, the superior may not like the idea of getting eclipsed by his subordinate.
v. Willingness to Establish and Use Broad Controls:
A superior should be willing to find means (i.e., feedback) to ensure that the delegated authority is being used to support enterprise or department goals and plans. The MBO concept introduced in the organisation helps this process.
Many a time it so happens that despite the willingness of the superior to delegate authority, the subordinate fights shy of accepting it. Certain attitudes of the employees come in the way of acceptance.
Let us examine them:
i. Fear of criticism- If a subordinate is afraid that he will be an object of criticism of others, he will be reluctant to accept the job.
ii. Lack of self-confidence- A diffident subordinate will not be prepared to assume responsibility.
iii. Dependence on the superior for decisions- A subordinate may not have the courage to take independent therefore, he may hesitate to accept any authority.
In addition to these personal attitudes of subordinates, lack of information and resources, insufficient positive incentives in the form of recognition, credit, etc., may also repel subordinates from accepting the delegated authority.
Barriers to Delegation – On the Part of the Boss and On the Part of the Subordinate
Although delegation is apparently a simple process yet, in practice, certain difficulties do generally crop up hampering the process. These difficulties arise partly on account of the employer’s attitude and partly on account of the subordinate’s hesitation in accepting delegation.
These difficulties or obstacles in the way of proper delegation may be noted here:
(i) I-can-do-it-better myself feeling – Some executives tend to think that they should be able to do the job much better by themselves and, for this reason, do not delegate authority.
(ii) Lack of ability to direct – Sometimes, the boss may like to delegate authority but may not be able to do it effectively because of his inability to identify and communicate the essential features of his plans.
(iii) Lack of confidence in subordinates – An executive may pay lip service to the principle of delegation but may have little or no confidence in his subordinates and may, therefore, hesitate in delegating authority.
(iv) Absence of controls that warn of coming troubles – In cases where the executive has practically no means of knowing of serious difficulties in the working of the organisation in advance, the executive in-charge of operations may hesitate in delegating authority.
(v) Conservative and cautious temperament – If an executive has a conservative and over-cautious approach to problems he may not be willing to take any risk. Since delegation of the task to a subordinate does involve some element of chance or risk, the executive may hesitate to delegate anything to anyone.
(i) Dependence on the boss for decisions – If a subordinate finds it easier to depend upon the boss for taking decisions while tackling problems, he may avoid accepting authority even though the boss may be prepared to delegate it.
(ii) Fear of criticism – If a subordinate fears (on the basis of past experience) that he will be in for uncharitable criticism even for a small genuine mistake, he will shrink from accepting a job.
(iii) Lack of information and resources to do a good job – A subordinate who believes that he does not possess the information and resources required for the proper and creditable performance of a task will generally be unwilling to accept difficult assignments.
(iv) Lack of self-confidence – A diffident subordinate lacking in self-confidence will generally try to shirk responsibility even though the executive is prepared to delegate.
(v) Inadequacy of positive incentives – A subordinate may hesitate in accepting more work delegated to him by the boss if he does not get sufficient positive incentives in the form of recognition and credit and other rewards.
Barriers to Delegation – 3 Barriers that Hinder Effective Delegation: Superior, Subordinates and Organisation
Adequate authority at different levels of management is important for the efficient performance of duties. However, in actual practice, adequate delegation is not possible. There are many factors which make a superior to withhold authority rather than to delegate. Many managers are reluctant to delegate authority and many subordinates are reluctant to accept it. Basically, delegation may be hampered due to the weakness in the organisation structure.
These barriers hinder effective delegation:
1. Superior (Delegator),
2. Subordinates (Delegant), and
A superior does not delegate adequate authority to his subordinates because of the following reasons:
(i) Insecurity – Insecurity may be a major cause of reluctance to delegates. Managers are accountable for the actions of subordinates, and this may make them reluctant to “take chances” and delegate tasks.
(ii) Loss of Power – Manager may fear loss of power if the subordinate does the job well. A superior does not delegate because of their lure for authority. They are autocrats and think that delegation will lead to reduction of their influence in the organisation. The desire of love for authority inspires managers to delegate inadequately.
(iii) Lack of Ability – Since superior may simply be too disorganized or inflexible to plan ahead and decide which tasks should be delegated to whom or to set up a control system so that subordinates action can be monitored.
(iv) Lack of Confidence – Lack of confidence in subordinates is another reason why managers avoid delegation. In the short run, this lack of confidence may be justified if subordinates lack knowledge and skill. In the long run, there is no justification for failing to train subordinates. Managers who lack confidence in their subordinates will severely limit their subordinate’s freedom to act and their opportunity to grow.
(v) Personal Factors – The personality factors of superior also determine the degree of delegation. The superior following democratic leadership styles delegates more authority as compared to authoritarian.
(vi) Fear of being Exposed – Managers, sometimes, do not delegate adequately because of fear of being exposed, since delegation reveal managerial shortcomings being practiced. This happens when managers are weak; they have poor operating procedures, methods and practice.
(vii) Ineffective Controls – While delegating authority, the superior must find means of assuring himself that the authority is being used to accomplish the given assignments. Where the manager does not set up adequate controls he may be reluctant to delegate.
Subordinates, sometimes, are reluctant to accept delegation of authority, and avoid shouldering responsibilities because of the following reasons:
(i) Insecurity – Insecurity can also be a barrier to the acceptance of delegation. Some subordinates want to avoid responsibilities and risks, and so would like their bosses to make all the decisions.
(ii) Lack of Self-confidence – Subordinates may be reluctant to accept when they lack self- confidence.
(iii) Lack of Incentives – Subordinates may not be given sufficient incentives for assuming extra- responsibility. Without appropriate compensation, subordinates may be unwilling to do so.
(iv) Overburden with Duties – As the subordinates have already some assigned task they do not like additional responsibility.
(v) Fear of Committing Mistakes – A subordinate who is afraid of committing mistakes and being criticized by the boss is likely to avoid delegation of authority.
(vi) Inadequacy of Authority, Information, and Working Conditions – Subordinates avoid delegation generally because he knows that he will not be able to avail adequate authority, information and resources for proper discharge of duties.
Delegation may be hampered due to the weakness in the organisation structure.
(i) Inadequate Planning,
(ii) Defective organisation structure,
(iii) Splintered authority,
(iv) Lack of unity of command,
(v) Ineffective control techniques,
(vi) Non-availability or competent managers, and
(vii) Environmental influences.
If organizational factors influencing delegation are not favourable, one can hardly expect adequate delegation. Factors, like management philosophy, availability of skill or competency, control mechanisms, performance, environmental influences, and the size of organisation affect delegation of authority.
Barriers to Delegation – Over Confidence of Superior, Lack of Confidence in Subordinates, Lack of Ability in Superior, Lack of Proper Controls and a Few Others
There may arise certain difficulties in the process of delegation. The difficulties may be due to the attitude of either superiors or subordinates or both. There may be certain defects in organisational structure which hamper proper delegation of authority.
Some of the difficulties involved in delegation are as such:
1. Over Confidence of Superior:
The feeling in a superior that only he can do certain work effectively than others is the main difficulty in delegation. When a manager is of the opinion that his subordinates will not be able to make proper decisions then he will concentrate all powers with him and will not like to delegate his authority. This may not be due to the incompetence of subordinates but due to the over-confidence of a superior.
2. Lack of Confidence in Subordinates:
The superior may be of the view that subordinates are not competent to carry out certain things of their own. He may lack confidence in his subordinates. Under these circumstances superior will hesitate to delegate authority.
3. Lack of Ability in Superior:
A superior may lack the ability to delegate authority to subordinates. The manager may not be able to identify the areas where delegation is required. He may not even be able to chalk out the proper process of delegation. The lack of competence on the part of superior restricts the delegation of authority.
4. Lack of Proper Controls:
There may not be proper controls in the organisation which help the manager to keep in touch with performance of subordinates. When certain controls like budgets, standard costs etc., are there then manager can exercise adequate control over the performance of his subordinates. In the absence of such techniques he will not be able to judge the performance of his subordinates. Since he will not be able to exercise control he will not like to delegate authority.
5. Lack of Proper Temperament of Superior:
The chief executive may be over-cautious or conservative by nature. He will not like to take the risk of delegating authority. His fear will always be that something may not go wrong. The executives with this type of temperament will hesitate to delegate authority. An element of risk cannot altogether be ruled out but certain risk will have to be taken. The subordinates will learn only when given a chance to take independent decisions. A lack of proper temperament of superior may also act as a barrier in delegation.
6. Inability of Subordinates:
There may also be shyness on the part of subordinates in assuming additional responsibility. They may avoid botheration accruing from delegation of authority. The fear of committing mistakes or tack of confidence on the part of subordinates may also act as a barrier in delegation of authority.
Barriers to Delegation – 2 Parts into which the Difficulties Appearing in the Way of Delegation of Authority can be Divided: From the Delegators and From the Delegant
The difficulties appearing in the way of delegation of authority can be divided into two parts:
The superiors or the delegators present the following obstacles in the way of delegation:
(1) Unfamiliarity with the Art of Delegation:
The first important obstacle in the way of delegation is the superiors’ unfamiliarity with the art of delegation. There are many officers who do not know what work can be delegated to whom and what authority can be delegated. In such a situation the balance between authority and responsibility cannot be established and, consequently, the delegation is a failure.
(2) Desire to Administer:
Some officers by nature hesitate to delegate their authority to other persons. They want to take all the decisions themselves and get them implemented by others. This discourages the subordinates and as a result of it their efficiency gets reduced.
(3) Lack of Faith in Subordinates:
Sometimes the superiors consider their subordinates incapable. In the face of such thinking they do not delegate their authority to them and take all the decisions themselves. This increases their work load and decisions are delayed. On the other hand, the efficiency of the subordinates does not increase because of the absence of authority.
(4) Psychological Barrier:
Sometimes the superiors start thinking themselves as an important part of the concern which is only an allusion. They feel that nobody else can take better decision and this checks them from delegating their authority.
(5) Fear about Position:
Incapable officers are always worried about their position. They think that if the authority is delegated to the subordinates it will bring their capability to light and their incapability will become known to everybody. The emergence of this reality may threaten their own existence in the concern and, therefore, they want to concentrate their authority in their own hands. Such a situation reduces the efficiency of both the superiors and the subordinates.
(6) Desire to Make Identity:
Sometimes the superiors wish to have all the credit for every work for themselves so that their identity in the concern may remain intact. Impelled by such a feeling they do not want to delegate their authority.
(7) Traditions of Enterprise:
There are some enterprises which do not have any tradition of delegation. Whenever some new officer joins such an enterprise he follows this tradition and does not believe in delegation.
(8) Regular Interference:
Some superiors are governed by habits. They do delegate their authority but continue their interference in the work of the subordinates. By doing so they harm the decision-making freedom of the subordinates and the results expected of delegation are not achieved.
(9) Fear of More Risk:
The superiors know that the final responsibility is theirs. Some timid superiors do not show the courage to take risks by delegating their authority to the subordinates. Because of the fear of risk they keep their authority with them.
The obstacles presented by the subordinates in the way of delegation are the following:
(1) Lack of Self-Confidence:
Sometimes the subordinates do not have the confidence whether the new responsibility being assigned to them can be discharged by them or not. This lack of confidence among the subordinates becomes a hurdle in the way of delegation.
(2) Fear of Criticism:
Everybody wants to have a clear image. This makes the subordinates feel that if they do not take responsibility, there will be no occasion for committing a mistake and no possibility of any criticism. In this way the subordinates feel uneasy to accept delegation.
(3) Lack of Incentive:
If the subordinates are given responsibility without any additional incentive, they do not accept it joyfully.
(4) Lack of Knowledge and Experience in Subordinates:
There are some subordinates who lack knowledge and experience. In other words, they do not have the capability which is so essential in taking decisions. In such a situation the superiors consider it risky to delegate their authority.
(5) Non-Cooperation by Able Subordinates:
Some subordinates cannot be delegated authority because of their incapability but sometimes difficulty is experienced in delegating authority in spite of their possessing the desired ability. The main reason is their shirking nature and because of their lethargic nature they are not prepared to accept any responsibility. This gradually converts their capability into incapability.
(6) Dependence on Executives:
Some subordinates come to depend completely on their superiors and develop the habit of working according to the decisions taken by others. In this way they look up to their superiors even in taking the smallest decision and become an obstacle in the way of delegation.
Barriers to Delegation – 2 Types of Obstacles or Practical Difficulties in the Way of Proper Delegation
The obstacles or practical difficulties in the way of proper delegation are of two types:
(1) Resistance on the part of superiors to delegate authority.
(2) Resistance on the part of subordinates to accept delegation.
The Resistance of superiors is seen for the following reasons:
(i) Desire to Dominate and Control – Many executives have a psychological desire to centralize power in their hands and thus to exercise control over people.
(ii) The Superiors believe “I can do it better myself.” This attitude develops a tendency not to delegate the authority. Lack of faith in subordinates’ ability is a primary reason.
(iii) Lack of ability to direct subordinates – There are many managers who are competent to perform the job themselves. But they do not have the skill to direct the subordinates, help them in developing the exercise of a job.
(iv) Fear of Subordinates – It arises mainly due to inferiority complex among supervisors. In this case, an executive is psychologically afraid that one of his subordinates given the chance may outshine him and attract more attention and recognition than he himself. He may also fear that if he delegates too much, he may not leave enough for himself. In other words, by delegating too much, he may make himself redundant.
(v) Vacillating and changing attitude of superior’s every time is yet another difficulty.
(vi) Absence of controls that warns of coming troubles is also an obstacle in delegation.
(vii) Superior’s conservative attitude.
(viii) Superior’s over-cautious temperament (timidity).
(ix) Fear of facing the consequence if the juniors misuse the power.
(x) Fear that juniors may develop wrong and superiority attitudes – “I do everything and he only signs. He does not know anything in this matter”.
(xi) Lastly, jealousy about good quality of work of juniors is a major difficulty in delegation.
The resistance of subordinates is seen for the following reasons:
(i) Habit of excessive dependence on the boss for decisions especially at the lower levels.
(ii) The fear of criticism – There is a problem that, if the delegation is accepted, credit will be taken away by the superior and the discredit will be located on the subordinate. In other words, if a subordinate fears that he will be in for uncharitable criticism even for a small genuine mistake, he will shrink from accepting a job.
(iii) Lack of proper information and resources to do a good job – A subordinate who believes that he does not possess the information and resources required for the proper and creditable performance of task, will generally be unwilling to accept difficult assignment.
(iv) Lack of self-confidence and/or lack of confidence in the superior.
(v) Inadequacy of positive incentives – The subordinates are unwilling to accept the responsibility because there is no motivation for effective performance.
(vi) Subordinate does not know the limitations of delegated powers and does not understand the true spirit behind delegation.