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.
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.