Delegation is the passing of control, authority and responsibility to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities.
The person who delegated the work, however, must remain 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 organisational level to a lower one.
Delegation can only be effective if there is trust between the manager and the subordinate to whom the work is entrusted and if the boss does not constantly interfere. Delegation, if properly done, is not an abdication of responsibilities, but a more effective use of the firm's resources. Delegation allows the manager to concentrate on the strategic elements of his role and is a form of professional development and motivation for the subordinate, provided the delegated roles are not always mundane and boring, or so complex that the subordinate feels inadequate.
The opposite of effective delegation is micromanagement, where a manager provides too much input, direction, and review of delegated work. Most people in an organisation have some authority over others. For instance a head of department is in charge of a team.
It is important to be able to distinguish between delegation and empowerment. Delegation is the process of giving power or work to someone else but retaining accountability and ultimate responsibility if something goes wrong. Empowerment, on the other hand, is giving someone more control over their own life or situation.
When a person is delegated to do something, he/she has to follow a certain set of rules or protocol to do it. This requires that the individual constantly checks with the person who delegated the task to them. There may not be much room for improvisation if the need arises. Thus the staff might not be able to use his/her initiative and come up with enterprising solutions. With empowerment, the responsibility moves to the individual empowered.