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Delegation as a Management Tool

Essay by   •  July 30, 2011  •  Case Study  •  1,878 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,880 Views

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Delegation is an invaluable management tool, which when effectively utilized by a supervisor can dramatically increase an organization's overall productivity and efficiency. However, without the empowerment of their employees and/or subordinates, this tool becomes useless and can actually create confusion or even chaos within the organization.


You hear it time and time again, that delegation is the "key to success." One might assume whenever a person becomes a supervisor and/or manager, they should have already mastered the art of delegation. Since we have learned or heard, once or twice, that delegation is a "versatile instrument that lets us achieve more by doing less" (Gunn, 2003, p. 11).

Since delegation is essentially doing more with less, there is only one logical way of doing this. The way to truly accomplish this is by fostering organizational synergy. To obtain synergy you must empower your people, and by "shifting responsibilities to your employees also facilitates their professional development, which reflects positively on you as a manager" (Hughes, Jan/Feb 2002, p. 13).


Currently, I am assigned as an Air Force Executive Officer for the Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) Director of Financial Management (FM). ASC is one of six product centers within the United States Air Force; it is also the largest product center within the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC).

The mission of ASC is to research, develop, and acquire aeronautical weapon systems for the end user-war fighters. It has an annual operating budget of more than $19 billion. The ASC FM Division's role is to provide accurate, timely, and professional financial management services and products for ASC Program Managers. My office has oversight for all ASC Financial Managers, who are responsible for all cost estimates, long range budget forecasts, analyzing the execution of the current budget, and keeping track of the financial health for each assigned program and/or project.

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure of the ASC FM is based on functional capabilities. Functional organization is departmentalization by specific tasks: Human resource (FMH), Cost analysis (FMC) and Budget analysis (FMA). At the same time ASC FM could also be considered a "tall" organization. Its hierarchy was designed with 4 layers or tiers, where functional managers and the members have a relatively narrow span of control.

The product center also has a very centralized decision making process. Almost every document or financial product requires the Director's personalized approval, before it is delivered to the customer. Furthermore, personnel within the organization are considered "specialized" if they possess specific skills; however they possess no decision authority and are not empowered. For the majority of the time, the staff conducts research, plans, and prepares all the required information so that the director can make sound and informative decisions/recommendations to other higher organizational leaders.

Organizational Communication

Every month our Director conducts a unit meeting in order to recognize personnel who have performed exceptionally. The Director also welcomes any new members, bids farewell to those leaving or retiring and attempts to provide an avenue for employees to raise issues or problems that may need to be addressed. Most meetings are physically conducted in comfortable conference rooms and often run over their allotted time. This is due to the intense person-to-person nature of these fairly informal meetings. Leaders frequently get bombarded with the sheer number of these meetings, leaving them with little or no time for quality mentoring, feedback or performing appraisals on their subordinates. As a result, there seems to be a lack of communication, where employees do not know how they are performing and are often confused with their roles and responsibilities. Also, due to the lack of time for supervisors to interact with their subordinates it has became difficult for them to identify employees that honestly care about the organization's mission. Every effective manager should realize that "some of them care about it and want more responsibility for it. Some don't. Find the one who do care and put them in the jobs that count" (Skinner, Charles P., 2006, p. 66).

Organizational Leadership

In general it appears that ASC lacks charismatic, motivated senior leaders. Most of the senior leaders' authority is the direct result of their position. However, one can observe different types of positional power through the product center: legitimate, reward, coercive, and information.

In addition to position power, an observant organizational behaviorist could detect several different personal powers, primarily those with expert power. Unfortunately, this type of leader often leads others by controlling the elements of the power they possess, instead of inspiring others to follow. Expert leaders need to head the quote, "You, friend, are not going to make a success of your first company command until you learn that the unit belongs to everyone in it" (Skinner, Charles P., 2006, p. 68). Furthermore an observant and effective manager needs to remember that there is "no harm exists in pointing out the flaws, or in accepting part of the blame for them [subordinates]. Let the sacrifice be yours. Let the man really produce instead of running back and forth in a repetitious farce of correcting the corrections" (Skinner, Charles P., 2006, p. 70).

Organizational Culture

To understand the culture of the Aeronautical Systems Center, one must first reflect on its long-standing history and time proven traditions. Because of this long history, the organization has established numerous and extremely intricate norms and/or mores. This makes it very challenging to understand how to "fit in." Plus there is an immense resistance to change and everyone seems content with the status quo. If you attempt to change the paradigm, you can quickly be branded a "Maverick" and shunned by those in power.

Currently, the center is attempting to become "lean"



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