The Authority and Responsibility Dilemma

Being given more responsibility is often considered a promotion, particularly as it is normally accompanied by a nice rise in salary and/or other monetary benefits. However, to truly be a promotion it also needs to come with additional authority, as without it the individual may simply feel that they are being taken advantage of through having more work dumped upon them.

First of all though it is useful to determine exactly what the terms responsibility and authority mean.


Responsibility

Being responsible for something means that ultimately it is you who will be held accountable for something which goes wrong, breaks, gets lost, underperforms etc. Not only will it be your job to prevent all of the negative potential outcomes from happening, but being responsible for a team/department or business process you will also be expected to improve and increase its current performance if at all possible.

So whilst being responsible in some circumstances is simply a case of looking after something and preventing harm coming to it, in other definitions it means to actively seek out new ways to improve upon the current state of affairs.


Authority

Authority describes actually having the power to enforce changes or rules. Without authority, a person's ideas will merely be suggestions and may not be accepted and implemented, no matter how good they may be.


The Need for Both

As far as employees are concerned, it is necessary for those who are given more responsibility to also be given authority. Without it, not only will they not be able to carry out their newly-acquired responsibility duties anywhere near as effectively as they could do, but they will probably feel that a manager has simply delegated more work to them to which they still need to ask the manager's permission before they take any actions. This can be incredibly frustrating for the employee, especially if they are more than capable of making decisions and getting the work done by themselves but still have to go back and forth to the manager, and even more so when the manager is frequently inaccessible and/or away from the business.

Sometimes a manager may not even realise they are causing this situation, which is when business coaching for the employee can be of tremendous assistance, as it provides them with a perfect opportunity to give their views and feelings on the situation.


The Difficulties of Delegation

Delegation is amongst the hardest skills that a manager needs to learn and get to grips with. Whilst it can be a frightening prospect giving important work to somebody else to complete, a manager will simply not be able to do everything themselves and will subsequently depend on employees to shoulder some of the workload. It is not just the mundane, meaningless tasks either; a manager of even a small business will find it next to impossible to complete all of the important tasks by themselves without help. Consequently, no matter how hard a manager finds the art of delegation, it is an imperative skill to learn through a combination of management training courses and experience in business.

As is clear from the paragraphs above though, delegation is not only important for the functioning of a successful business, but also relies heavily upon the correct mix of responsibility and authority in order to maintain employee harmony.