AUTHORITY, ACCOUNTABILITY & RESPONSIBILITY By Yusop B. Masdal I. INTRODUCTION Delegation (or deputation) is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities (Blair, gerald 2002). However the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work. Delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions, i. e. it is a shift of decision-making authority from one organizational level to a lower one.
Delegation, if properly done, is not abdication. The opposite of effective delegation is micromanagement, where a manager provides too much input, direction, and review of delegated work. In general, delegation is good and can save money and time, help in building skills, and motivate people. Poor delegation, on the other hand, might cause frustration, and confusion to all the involved parties. According to O. Jeff Harris it is an authorization to a subordinate manager to act in a certain manner independently.
The delegation of authority is the delivery by one individual to another of the right to act, to make decisions, to acquire resources and to perform other tasks in order to fulfill job responsibilities. L. A. Allen has defined delegation as an entrustment of a part of the work, or responsibility and authority to another, and the creation of accountability for performance. Responsibility is the work assigned to a person. Authority is the sum of powers and rights entrusted to make possible the performance of the work delegated.
Accountability is the obligation to carry out responsibility and exercise authority in terms of performance standards established. It is the obligation of an individual to render an account of the fulfillment of his responsibilities to the boss to whom he reports. For achieving delegation, a manager has to work in a system and has to perform following steps: 1. Assignment of tasks and duties 2. Granting of authority 3. Creating responsibility and accountability Delegation of authority is the base of superior-subordinate relationship, it involves following steps:- . Assignment of Duties – The delegator first tries to define the task and duties to the subordinate. He also has to define the result expected from the subordinates. Clarity of duty as well as result expected has to be the first step in delegation. 2. Granting of authority – Subdivision of authority takes place when a superior divides and shares his authority with the subordinate. It is for this reason, every subordinate should be given enough independence to carry the task given to him by his superiors.
The managers at all levels delegate authority and power which is attached to their job positions. The subdivision of powers is very important to get effective results. 3. Creating Responsibility and Accountability – The delegation process does not end once powers are granted to the subordinates. They at the same time have to be obligatory towards the duties assigned to them. Responsibility is said to be the factor or obligation of an individual to carry out his duties in best of his ability as per the directions of superior.
Responsibility is very important. Therefore, it is that which gives effectiveness to authority. At the same time, responsibility is absolute and cannot be shifted. Accountability, on the others hand, is the obligation of the individual to carry out his duties as per the standards of performance. Therefore, it is said that authority is delegated, responsibility is created and accountability is imposed. Accountability arises out of responsibility and responsibility arises out of authority.
Therefore, it becomes important that with every authority position an equal and opposite responsibility should be attached. The question is how authority is delegated when decision-making power is vasted in a subordinate by his superior. Clearly, superiors cannot delegate authority they do not have. It is equally clear that superiors cannot delegate all their authority without without, in effect, transferring their position to their subordinates. The entire process of delegation involves four steps. They are: 1. The determination of results expected from persons in a position . The assignment of tasks to persons 3. The delegation of authority for accomplishing tasks 4. The holding of people responsible for the accomplishment of these tasks. II. AUTHORITY According to Henry Fayol, “Authority is the right to give orders and the power to exact obedience”. According to Mooney and Reily, “Authority is the principle at the root of Organisation and so important that it is impossible to conceive of an Organisation at all unless some person or persons are in a position to require action of others. “
It is a manager’s formal and legitimate right to make decisions, issue orders, and allocate resources to achieve organizationally desired outcomes. Authority is the legitimate power of a leader to direct individuals to take action within the scope of the leader’s position. All leaders regardless of rank are responsible to exercise their authority to accomplish the mission. Equally important; however, is the idea that when an individual is given responsibility for a mission, the individual must also be given the degree of authority necessary to carry it out.
Authority in management is the formal or legitimate authority specified in a charter that gives a project manager the authority to act in the name of the sponsoring executive or on behalf on the organization. There are different types of authority: Line authority managers have the formal power to direct and control immediate subordinates. The superior issues orders and is responsible for the result—the subordinate obeys and is responsible only for executing the order according to instructions. Functional authority is where managers have formal power over a specific subset of activities.
For instance, the Production Manager may have the line authority to decide whether and when a new machine is needed but the Controller demands that a Capital Expenditure Proposal is submitted first, showing that the investment will have a yield of at least x%; or, a legal department may have functional authority to interfere in any activity that could have legal consequences. This authority would not be functional but it would rather be staff authority if such interference is “advice” rather than “order”. Staff authority is granted to staff specialists in their areas of expertise.
It is not a real authority in the sense that a staff manager does not order or instruct but simply advises, recommends, and counsels in the staff specialists’ area of expertise and is responsible only for the quality of the advice (to be in line with the respective professional standards etc. ) It is a communication relationship with management. It has an influence that derives indirectly from line authority at a higher level. Authority is seen as the legitimate right of a person to exercise influence or the legitimate right to make decisions, to carry out actions, and to direct others.
For example, managers expect to have the authority to assign work, hire employees, or order merchandise and supplies. As part of their structure, organizations have a formal authority system that depicts the authority relationships between people and their work. Different types of authority are found in this structure: line, staff, and functional authority. Line authority is represented by the chain of command; an individual positioned above another in the hierarchy has the right to make decisions, issue directives, and expect compliance from lower-level employees.
Staff authority is advisory authority; it takes the form of counsel, advice, and recommendation. People with staff authority derive their power from their expert knowledge and the legitimacy established in their relationships with line managers. Functional authority allows managers to direct specific processes, practices, or policies affecting people in other departments; functional authority cuts across the hierarchical structure. For example, the human resources department may create policies and procedures related to promoting and hiring employees throughout the entire organization.
Authority can also be viewed as arising from interpersonal relationships rather than a formal hierarchy. Authority is sometimes equated with legitimate power. Authority and power and how these elements are interrelated can explain the elements of managing and their effectiveness. What is critical is how subordinates perceive a manager’s legitimacy. Legitimate authority occurs when people use power for good and have acquired power by proper and honest means. When people perceive an attempt at influence as legitimate, they recognize it and willingly comply.
Power acquired through improper means, such as lying, withholding information, gossip, or manipulation, is seen as illegitimate. When people perceive the authority of others as illegitimate, they are less likely to willingly comply. III. RESPONSIBILITY Responsibility means an employee’s duty to perform assigned task or activities. Responsibility is the obligation to act or to do a task that one must answer for, either to team members or to supervisors. Responsibility includes, but is not limited to assigned tasks, equipment, cadets, money, morale, and leadership. Responsibility is an integral part of a leader’s authority. All adets are expected to apply proper influence upon their fellow cadets by setting examples of obedience, courage, zeal, and neatness. According to Davis, “Responsibility is an obligation of individual to perform assigned duties to the best of his ability under the direction of his executive leader. ” In the words of Theo Haimann, “Responsibility is the obligation of a subordinate to perform the duty as required by his superior”. McFarland defines responsibility as “the duties and activities assigned to a position or an executive”. Responsibility is the obligation to accomplish the goals related to the position and the organization.
Managers, at no matter what level of the organization, typically have the same basic responsibilities when it comes to managing the work force: Direct employees toward objectives, oversee the work effort of employees, deal with immediate problems, and report on the progress of work to their superiors. Managers’ primary responsibilities are to examine tasks, problems, or opportunities in relationship to the company’s short-and long-range goals. They must be quick to identify areas of potential problems, continually search for solutions, and be alert to new opportunities and ways to take advantage of the best ones.
How effectively goals and objectives are accomplished depends on how well the company goals are broken down into jobs and assignments and how well these are identified and communicated throughout the organization. Characteristics of Responsibility 1. The essence of responsibility is the obligation of a subordinate to perform the duty assigned. 2. It always originates from the superior-subordinate relationship. 3. Normally, responsibility moves upwards, whereas authority flows downwards. 4. Responsibility is in the form of a continuing obligation. . Responsibility cannot be delegated. 6. The person accepting responsibility is accountable for the performance of assigned duties. 7. It is hard to conceive responsibility without authority. IV. ACCOUNTABILITY According, to McFarland, “accountability is the obligation of an individual to report formally to his superior about the work he has done to discharge the responsibility. ” When authority is delegated to a subordinate, the person is accountable to the superior for performance in relation to assigned duties.
If the subordinate does a poor job, the superior cannot evade the responsibility by stating that poor performance is the fault of the subordinate. A superior is normally responsible for all actions of groups under his supervision even if there are several layers down in the hierarchy. Simply stated, accountability means that the subordinate should explain the factors responsible for non-performance or lack of performance. When managers and employees are held accountable for their safety and health responsibilities, they are more likely to press for solutions to safety and health problems than to present barriers.
By implementing an accountability system, positive involvement in the safety and health program is created. Accountability is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts asresponsibilityanswerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) worlds.
In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences. . (Dykstra, Clarence 1939) Elements of an effective accountability system Any accountability system should have the following elements to be effective: ?
Established standards in the form of company policies, procedures or rules that clearly convey standards of performance in safety and health to employees ? Resources needed to meet the standards, such as a safe and healthful workplace, effective training, and adequate oversight of work operations. ? A measurement system which specifies acceptable performance. ? Consequences, both positive and negative. ? Application at all levels V. SIMILARITIES IN AUTHORITY, RESPONSIBILITY & ACCOUNTABILITY Authority, responsibility and accountability share several values. In order to illustrate, please refer to the table below. |AUTHORITY |RESPONSIBILITY |ACCOUNTABILITY | |As an element of delegation of | | | | |power and authority |YES |YES |YES | |As a management concern | | | | | |YES |YES |YES | |As a factor in the organizing | | | | |function of management |YES |YES |YES | |Significance in an efficient | | | |processes in an organization |YES |YES |YES | |As management functions/tasks | | | | | |YES |YES |YES | |As collaborative efforts | | | | | |YES |YES |YES | |As measurements of performance | | | | | |YES |YES |YES | VI. DIFFERENTATION AMONG AUTHORITY, RESPONSIBILITY & ACCOUNTABILITY Authority, responsibility and accountability are distinguished by several factors such as in the table presented below. CRITERIAS: A. FUNCTION – main duty and tasks involved. B. NATURE – definition of function. C. SOURCE – from where such function emanates D. DELEGATION – characteristics of delegation E. FLOW OF FUNCTION – direction of function |AUTHORITY |RESPONSIBILITY |ACCOUNTABILITY | |Function | a manager’s formal and |an employee’s duty to perform | means that with authority and | | |legitimate right to make |assigned task or activities. |responsibility must report and | | |decisions, issue orders, and | |justify task outcomes to those | | |allocate resources to achieve | |above them in the chain of | | |organizationally desired | |command. | | |outcomes. | | |Nature |It is the legal right of a |It is the obligation of |accountability is the | | |person or a superior to command |subordinate to perform the work |acknowledgment and assumption of| | |his subordinates. |assigned to him. |responsibility for actions | |Source |Authority is attached to the |Responsibility arises out of |Applicable to both superiors and| | |position of a superior in |superior-subordinate |subordinates | | |concern. relationship in which | | | | |subordinate agrees to carry out | | | | |duty given to him. | | |Delegation |Authority can be delegated by a |Responsibility cannot be shifted|Accountability is | | |superior to a subordinate |and is absolute |non-transferable | |Flow of function |It flows from top to bottom. |It flows from bottom to top. |It flows from bottom to top. | VII. CONCLUSION : IN SUMMARY In any organization no individual can perform all duties and accomplish all tasks by himself. It is physically impossible for a single individual to ook after the affairs of a large business. His skill lies in his ability to get thins done through others. As an organization grows in size and the manager’s job increases beyond his personal capacity, his success lies in his ability to multiply himself by training his subordinates and sharing his authority and responsibility with them. The only way he can achieve more is through delegation – through dividing his work load and sharing responsibilities with others. The sharing of power or authority with another for the performance of certain tasks and duties is known as delegation of authority. A manager alone cannot perform all the tasks assigned to him.
In order to meet the targets, the manager should delegate authority. Delegation of Authority means division of authority and powers downwards to the subordinate. Delegation is about entrusting someone else to do parts of your job. Delegation of authority can be defined as subdivision and sub-allocation of powers to the subordinates in order to achieve effective results. Successful leaders use responsibility, accountability, and authority to accomplish their missions. These three ingredients are essential to successful leadership. A leader who exhibits responsibility, utilizes authority, and maintains accountability will help ensure continued success.
In the process of delegation, the superior transfers his duties/responsibilities to his subordinate and also give necessary authority for performing the responsibilities assigned. At the same time, the superior is accountable for the performance of his subordinate. Delegation is the process managers use to transfer authority and responsibility to positions below them. Organizations today tend to encourage delegation from highest to lowest possible levels. Delegation can improve flexibility to meet customers’ needs and adaptation to competitive environments. Managers often find delegation difficult Delegation of authority is one vital organizational process. It is inevitable long with the expansion and growth of a business enterprise. Delegation means assigning of certain responsibilities along with the necessary authority by a superior to his subordinate managers. Delegation does not mean surrender of authority by the higher level manager. It only means transfer of certain responsibilities to subordinates and giving them the necessary authority, which is necessary to discharge the responsibility properly. Delegation is quite common in all aspects of life including business. Even in the college, the principal delegates some of his authority to the vice-principal. ———————– DELEGATION AUTHORITY RESPONSIBILITY ACCOUNTABILITY