Empowerment and Delegation

Empowerment and Delegation


Empowerment is the current term for making workers (and particularly work teams) responsible for achieving, and even setting, work targets, with the freedom to make decisions about how they are to be achieved.
Empowerment goes in hand in hand with:
Delayering or a cut in the number of levels (and managers) in the chain of command, since responsibility previously held by middle managers is, in effect, being given to operational workers.
Flexibility, since giving responsibility to the people closest to the product -and customer encourages responsiveness – and cutting out layers communication, decision-making and reporting speeds up the process.
New technology, since there are more ‘knowledge workers’. Such people -need less supervision, being better able to identify and control the mean, clearly understood ends. Better informa-tion systems also remove –mystique and power of managers as possessors of knowledge “-information in the organisation.
Reasons for Empowerment
‘The people lower down the organisation possess the knowl-edge of what is going wrong with a process but lack the authority to make changes. Those further up the structure have the authority to make changes, but lack the profound knowl-edge requires identifying the right solutions. The only solution is to change the culture of the organization so that everyone can become involved in the process of improvement and work together to make the changes.’ (Max Hand)


It is impractical for the supervisor to handle all of the work of the department directly. In order to meet the organization’s goals, focus on objectives, and ensure that all work is accomplished, supervisors must delegate authority. From your earlier courses you might have learnt that- authority is the legitimate power of a supervisor to direct subordinates to take action within the scope of the supervisor’s position. By extension, this power, or a part thereof, is delegated and used in the name of a supervisor.
Delegation is the downward transfer of formal authority from superior to subordinate. The employee is empowered to act for the supervisor, while the supervisor remains accountable for the outcome. Delegation of authority is a person-to-person relationship requiring trust, commitment, and contracting between the supervisor and the employee.
De1egation of authority is when a superior gives to a subordi-nate part of his or her own authority to make decisions.
Students please note that delegation can only occur if the superior initially possesses the authority to delegate; a subordi-nate cannot be given organisational authority to make decisions unless it would otherwise be the superior’s right to make those decisions personally!!
The supervisor assists in developing employees in order to strengthen the organization. He or she gives up the authority to make decisions that are best made by subordinates. This means that the supervisor allows subordinates the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. He or she does not supervise subordinates’ decision-making, but allows them the opportu-nity to develop their own skills. The supervisor lets subordinates know that he or she is willing to help, but not willing to do their jobs for them. The supervisor is not convinced that the best way for employees to learn is by telling them how to solve a problem. This results in those subordi-nates becoming dependent on the supervisor. The supervisor allows employees the opportunity to achieve and be credited for it.
An organization’s most valuable resource is its people. By empowering employees who perform delegated jobs with the authority to manage those jobs, supervisors free themselves to manage more effectively. Successfully training future supervisors means delegating authority. This gives employees the concrete skills, experience, and the resulting confidence to develop themselves for higher positions. Delegation provides better managers and a higher degree of efficiency. Thus, collective effort, resulting in the organization’s growth, is dependent on delegation of authority.
At the start of the lesson, we had covered the concept of Empowerment. Lets see the difference between, Empower-ment and Delegation.
Delegation is an old idea used in the traditional management model. The idea was to make sure that responsibility and authority were equal for every job. When delegation was implemented correctly, people had the authority that they needed to execute their responsibilities. Limitations of this approach: assigning authority does not mean that someone has the ability, motivation, and understanding necessary to perform.

Reasons for delegation

Managers and supervisors must delegate some authority because:
There are physical and mental limitations to the workload of any individual or group in authority.
Managers and supervisors are free to concentrate on the aspects of the work (such as planning), which only they are competent (and paid) to do.
The increasing size and complexity of some organisations calls for specialization, both managerial and technical.
However, by delegating authority to assistants, the supervisor takes on the extra tasks of:
Monitoring their performance
Coordinating the efforts of different assistants

Process of Delegation:

Step 1. Specify the expected performance levels of the assistant, keeping in mind the assistant’s level of expertise.
Step 2. Formally assign tasks to the assistant, who should formally agree to do them.
Step 3. Allocate resources and authority to the assistant to enable him or her to carry out the delegated tasks at the expected level of performance.
Step 4. Maintain contact with the assistant to review the progress made and to make constructive criticism. Feedback is essential for control, and also as part of the learning process.