The Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Delegation of Authority

Advantages and Disadvantages of Delegation of Authority
Delegation of authority refers to the transfer of power. While some managers may be wary of it, it has its own advantages. Here, we present the pros and cons of delegating authority.
Workspirited Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
"Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way."
― Ronald Reagan
Delegation of power/authority is not an easy thing to do. It involves risk. Delegation may be a temporary need in case of the absence or unavailability of the manager(s), or it could be the need of an expanding business. Delegation is important for organizational growth as it helps develop future managers. However, that's true only if authority is delegated to the right individual(s) and in the right way.
Delegation involves assignment of tasks or transfer of authority to others in the team, giving them an opportunity to shoulder additional responsibility and act on the manager's behalf. This leads to better distribution of work and helps develop leadership. However, if authority is not delegated to the right candidates, there is a risk of them taking undue advantage of the privilege. Secondly, if the delegates lack the required knowledge/training, there are chances of failure. Even a lack of support and motivation from the manager can affect the delegates' performance. Here, we tell you more about the advantages and disadvantages of delegation of authority.
Builds Trust and Understanding
Trust and Understanding
Delegation involves trusting in someone's abilities and relying on them. This helps build a feeling of mutual understanding and trust. It gives managers the opportunity to understand the employees' approach towards work.
Motivates Employees
Motivates Employees
Entrusting employees with additional responsibilities works as a great motivator at the workplace. An employee who feels trusted; i.e. when he knows that the higher management trusts him and relies on his capabilities, he works with greater efficiency. Delegation of authority makes him feel important and more responsible.
Tests Employee Skills
Skill Development
With authority comes added responsibility, shouldering which, is not easy. It requires one to work with greater focus and efficiency, and to take initiatives, be alert, think creatively, analyze situations, and take decisions. Assessing how well the delegates are functioning can help a manager rate their performance and take decisions about their promotions.
Provides Training
Provides Training
Delegation gives the employees an experience of the actual work, thus providing them with practical training of the job. Delegation of authority involves sharing and transfer of knowledge, thus increasing the delegates' general awareness and know-how of the work. The skills and gained knowledge is tested while working, thus giving the employees an opportunity to prove themselves.
Achieves Work Distribution
Work Distribution
This can be considered as a major advantage of delegation, as it reduces the burden of work with the manager, gives more people a chance to share responsibility, and thus leads to a fair distribution of work. Delegating authority for a certain project or task can help a manager concentrate on other more important tasks. Transfer of smaller responsibilities can make it easy for a manager to shoulder greater or more important responsibilities in the organization.
Gives Scope for Innovation
Scope for Innovation
To implement new ideas in the organization, one needs to have certain powers and the right amount of freedom. A rigid framework and lack of authority may restrict an individual from thinking differently. If deserving individuals are given the right authorities, they may be able to bring innovation. Delegation of authority may invite out-of-the-box ideas and positive changes in the organization.
Builds Team Spirit
Team Spirit
Delegating authority to a group of individuals increases their bonding and mutual understanding. They get a chance to work together towards a common goal, thus building the team spirit.
Misuse of Power
In delegating authority, there is a risk of the delegate misusing his power for personal gains. He may have access to confidential information, which he may leak to the competitors, or involve himself in other fraudulent activities. This possibility raises a question mark on the employee's integrity, in which case, choosing such an individual as the delegate would be a wrong decision.
Failure to Fulfill the Tasks
Failure to fulfill tasks
The manager's instructions may not be well taken care of by the delegate, or he may not be very particular about following them. This may breed from unwillingness or incapacity of the delegate.
The delegate may take long to understand the new responsibility. As he has authority, delayed actions on his part may hamper his team's performance. A delay in planning or taking decisions may not be affordable for the organization. Hence, it is not advisable to delegate authority when there is a time crunch.
Impact on Quality of Work
Low Quality
There are chances of quality being affected simply because the employee is new to the work. The experience and knowledge that the manager has, may be lacking in the delegate. He might make mistakes. His way of working may be different. This may impact the overall quality of work. Thus, it is important for a manager to understand that his responsibility does not end after delegation.
Delegation of authority must be planned and executed with care. Only the deserving candidate should be given additional responsibilities. The manager should give clear instructions and provide the delegate with sufficient training. Even after delegating, frequent monitoring may be required in the initial phase.

Managers are reluctant about delegating authority; sometimes due to fear of the delegate outsmarting them, and at times due to a doubt about the delegate's dependability. But if managers look at the bigger picture and if they can choose the right people for delegation of authority, it can work in favor of the organization's growth and success.