Common Barriers in Delegation of Authority

The process of assignment of specific work to individuals within the organization and giving them the right to perform those works is delegation. It is about entrusting someone else to do parts of your job. Delegation of Authority means division of authority and powers downwards to the subordinate. It is one of the most significant concepts in management practice, which affects managerial functions.

The following are the common barriers in delegation of authority:

Reluctant to Delegate

Some managers are reluctant to delegate authority to subordinates. They believe that they can take a better decision than their subordinates. This belief is often found among those managers who have been recently promoted and those having superiority complex. They have no proper plan to delegate authority. In such a situation, subordinates will have less work and lose the commitment to implement the manager’s decisions.

The following reasons for managers are not willing to delegate authority are given below:

  • A manager may believe that he can do his work better than his subordinates.
  • Sometimes, managers might believe that his subordinates are not capable enough.
  • Delegation may require a lot of time in explaining the task and responsibility to the subordinates. Here, manager may not have the patience to explain, supervise and correct any mistakes.

Fear of Losing Importance

Managers who feel comfortable with authority, fear to delegate authority. They feel that it will diminish their importance. Such managers delegate only that part of authority to subordinates which relates to their job responsibility. The subordinate must know precisely what he has to know and do. It should be preferably in writing with specific instructions so that the subordinate does not repeatedly refer problems to the manager for his opinion or decisions. They retain their authority as a positional superior of an organization.

Loss of Control

Some managers opine that they will lose control by delegating authority to their subordinates. They feel that if they delegate authority to their subordinates, they would not be sure to achieve assigned responsibilities from subordinates. In case of adequate information and resources may not be available to the subordinates to carry out their decisions, they may hesitate to accept the delegation of authority. Such fear is reasonable in case managers are incapable of getting the jobs done from others.

Mutual Distrust

Managers are often reluctant to delegate authority to subordinates if there is an environment of distrust in the organization. A manager must have confidence in his own ability to help, guide and control his subordinates before delegating authority. If a manager does not have the ability to make a sound decision he does not believe in his subordinates. He does not want to take risk to get jobs done from others.

Fear of Subordinates

Managers are reluctant to delegate authority if they fear that it will expose their shortcomings. They feel that their subordinates will perform better and may create problems in their own career. Some managers feel very insecure in delegating authority especially when the subordinate is capable of doing the job better. The manager, in such a situation, may fear his loss of power and competition from the subordinate. They have no self-confidence and do not want to face the competitive environment.

Incompetent Subordinates

Some subordinates are often unwilling to accept delegated authority because of lack of self-confidence. They fear of making mistakes in their performance. It is the responsibility of the superior to develop their self confidence by guiding them and also creating a supportive environment.

Subordinates may reluctant to accept delegation of authority for the following reasons:

  • Subordinates may lack confidence in their ability to accept additional responsibility.
  • Subordinates may reluctant to accept authority and make decisions for fear that they would be criticized or dismissed for making wrong decisions.
  • Subordinates may not be motivated to accept additional responsibility and authority willingly in the absence of suitable incentives.

Lack of Motivation

Lack of motivational environment discourages subordinates to take responsibility and accept authority. Adequate incentive in the form of promotion, status, better working conditions or additional bonuses must be provided for additional responsibilities will performed. Such environment is found in organizations where there is lack of reward and judgment system.


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