Abuse of Delegation | Misuse of Delegating

Principles of Management
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Chloe Xu
Director, Australia

Abuse of Delegation | Misuse of Delegating

Delegation is a core part of leadership and management, according to what we have learnt from numerous management works. It is often described positively as an effectiveness method or management technique that helps both superiors (managers) and subordinates (employees), with managers being able to focus on important areas while employees having an opportunity to build their abilities and skills.

However, recent research looks at the circumstances under which managers choose to delegate and reveals that when entrusting tasks to others, managers’ real intentions are often not that positive. The study discovered that managers interviewed tended to delegate decisions when the consequences would affect other people, in particular when all the options were not appealing.

The researchers believe this pattern was driven by 2 factors:
1. A desire to avoid criticism or blame and
2. A desire not to feel responsible if something bad happened to other people.
In other words, the willingness (or reluctance) to delegate had little to do with how important, difficult, and/or complex the decision is.

Moreover, the researchers found that people didn’t delegate to just anyone. Their choice of delegatee is based on someone’s level of authority rather than his or her expertise, which means someone who would clearly be responsible for whatever happened.

Understanding these dynamics can obviously be helpful for delegatees (to avoid being assigned an unfair assignment), and for emerging managers when their decisions will affect others, and for companies looking to help their managers delegate appropriately.

Source: Steffel, M., Williams, E. and Perrmann-Graham, J. (2016). Passing the Buck: Delegating Choices to Others to Avoid Responsibility and Blame. Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, Volume 135, July 2016, pp.32-44. Available at Science Direct.


Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar

Wrong Use of Delegation Caused by Lack of Equanimity

Avoiding responsibility and blame while delegating may be a result of not attaining a state of equan... Sign up

Steven Cooke, Philippines

Proper and Wrong Reasons for Delegation

A) I'm not sure that those who need to correct these practices engage in these forums 😃. B)... Sign up

Ioannis Stathakopoulos
Manager, Greece

Delegation is Powerful for Managers But Must Be Just

Delegation is a very powerful tool for any manager. You delegate tasks because you trust the other p... Sign up

David Harland
Consultant, United Kingdom

Nefarious Use of Delegation

Delegation is a powerful tool, I've used it myself to with positive effect. However, it can be used ... Sign up

Collins, New Zealand

Role of Popular Leadership Models in Delegation

Current models of leadership tend to ensure that narcissists are promoted over others. Ideas such as... Sign up

Gregory Johnson
Coach, United States

Evil Delegation should be Punished

@Collins: Systems of accountability are more evident based and not based on the subjective propertie... Sign up

Andrew Blaine
Business Consultant, South Africa

Delegation and 'Passing the Buck'

What is described in the introduction is not really delegation, but more "passing the buck" (moving ... Sign up

Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar

Factors to Avoid Wrong Use of Delegation

In my view, in order to have a good delegation by empowerment, following factors can be kept in mind... Sign up

Norman Dragt

Why Women are Held Back

@Collins: This kind of popular leadership ideas / styles are also a reason why women have less chanc... Sign up

judith aldaba

Why Abuse of Delegation is Wrong

Delegation is an important aspect of management because it enables one to share certain responsibili... Sign up

Costanzo Beretti, Italy

Delegator Must Assess the Level of Maturity of the Delegee

In my opinion, the most important issue on this topic is to identify correctly the level of maturity... Sign up

sriram srivatsava

Abusing Delegation

Delegation of tasks is a primary role of any manager. Taks should be delegated to someone entrusted ... Sign up

Suman Kumar
Director, India

Abuse of Delegation Is Proof of an Incompetent Manager

The problem is that we have a large number of incompetent managers. On one hand, they know that the... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Allowing Abuse of Delegation by Managers is Proof of Incompetent Senior Management

@Steven Cooke: Let's hope people who delegate poorly will visit and learn from this topic… If you kn... Sign up

James Antwi
HR Consultant, Ghana

How to Know and Avoid Abusive Delegation is Used Upon You?

Surely such abusive practices are very negative tactics which then defeat the whole purpose of deleg... Sign up

Charlie Sattgast
United States

Monkey Business Book

@Steven Cooke: It's: "Monkey Business" by William Oncken Jr. Note that there are a multitude of boo... Sign up

Steven Cooke, Philippines

Excellent Reference

@Charlie Sattgast: THANKS! I read it years ago as I moved into upper-middle management. It's in a bo... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Abuse-Misuse of Delegation

Delegation is the foundation of management. Management only exists because of the need to delegate. ... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Managers Abusing Delegation

@Maurice Hogarth: I agree that abuse of delegation as mentioned by Chloe Xu strikes at the very hear... Sign up

Steven Cooke, Philippines

Accountability in Management

@Jaap de Jonge: Failure to hold people to their responsibilities - at any level - is a sign of a sic... Sign up

Management Consultant, Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Delegation Excludes Control

Personally, I consider delegation to be an act of trust. And I never accepted the maxim that trust d... Sign up


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