Delegation, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is the act of assigning something to a person or purpose. This concept holds great importance in both the Air Force and military as a whole.
Managers can become overwhelmed if they fail to delegate tasks. During my 6-year tenure as a Contracting Officer, I witnessed the implementation of delegation in both the military hierarchy and our interactions with contractors. While delegation may seem straightforward, not everyone understands it or feels capable of doing it effectively. Certain managers choose to delegate in order to distribute responsibility in the event of failure.
Delegation in the business world should not only be done by managers to pass on difficult or unwanted tasks. It can also be used as a way to motivate employees and show trust in their abilities to successfully complete tasks.
Delegation is advantageous for both managers and teams because it leads to a sense of achievement when tasks are finished and provides the opportunity to focus on other duties. Managers can progress in their careers more quickly by allocating time to other projects. Furthermore, delegation improves the functioning of any business or office.
In the Air Force, delegation is a widespread practice that follows a hierarchical Chain of Command. The highest position in this hierarchy is held by the President of the United States, while the lowest position is occupied by an average airman. Within this framework, there exist commanders, first sergeants, and superintendents.
The top officials in the military make decisions regarding work schedule and physical training duration, while it is the individuals at the bottom who actually carry out the tasks. This hierarchy applies solely to military duties. Each unit in the Air Force has its own method of delegation for individual job responsibilities.
As a Contracting Officer, our office was responsible for negotiating and drafting contracts for all the services and supplies required on the base, ranging from purchasing new computers and office supplies for various offices to procuring janitorial services for all buildings. Prior to awarding the contract, it was necessary to conduct market research. The customer or office seeking the service or supply would independently research different companies and assess the available options in the market, as well as determine their specific requirements. Once the market research was concluded, our office would take over and handle the negotiation and awarding of the contract to a suitable company.
Inspecting contractors and verifying completed work on service type contracts was primarily assigned to the Quality Assurance Advisor. The Quality Assurance Advisor would review monthly invoices submitted by contractors for payment, ensuring that the work was completed and justified for payment. As a Contracting Officer, your main focus is negotiating other contracts and ensuring compliance with contractual obligations.
The Quality Assurance Advisor plays a crucial role in identifying and reporting issues that may occur. Although we have the authority to modify contracts or notify contractors, it is not feasible for us to be physically present at the site every day. For supply contracts, our customers inform us when they receive the supplies and if any adjustments are required. After confirming fulfillment of the contract, we proceed with releasing payment to the contractor. This delegation of responsibilities is essential for maintaining efficiency within our office.
The title of Quality Assurance Advisors can only be obtained after undergoing rigorous training and receiving a recommendation from their commander. Some advisors are specifically responsible for managing contracts worth millions of dollars. Delegation is described by some as having seven levels, which range from managers instructing employees to wait for further instructions, to managers assigning tasks and allowing employees to come up with solutions, take action, and report back. The comfort level that a manager has with delegation depends on the individuals they supervise and the level of trust they have in each person. In the past, I held the position of Contracting Officer overseeing six individuals.
As a manager, I consistently motivated the employees I supervised to take ownership of their actions, whether positive or negative. I firmly believe that assigning tasks can empower individuals who lack confidence. However, personally, I was always hesitant to fully delegate responsibility for a task. Delegation always carries some level of risk. When a manager delegates tasks to their employees and those tasks are not done correctly, the manager bears most of the responsibility.
If the task is not completed, the manager may face reprimand. The consequences of inadequate delegation cascade downward, with the manager reprimanding the employee and subsequently withholding further delegation from them. To ensure proper delegation, it is crucial to be aware of certain indicators. For instance, if a manager consistently works late, it suggests insufficient delegation. Furthermore, when employees continue to seek clarification about a delegated task, it indicates that either the individual assigned may not possess the required capabilities or the instructions were unclear.
If morale in your unit is low, it may be due to employees not receiving sufficient responsibility and recognition. Managers should delegate appropriate information to the appropriate individuals and allow them to demonstrate their abilities. As Stephen Comiskey once stated, “You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.” Effective delegation can greatly benefit both managers and employees, enabling them to work more efficiently and function better as a team.
Developing a good system of delegation requires time and effort, but it can greatly benefit your career and boost your confidence level. Throughout my Air Force career, I gained valuable insights on delegation, which I now apply as a stay-at-home mom. Whether it’s assigning tasks on my husband’s honey-do list or getting my son to clean up his toys, effective delegation plays a vital role. 1.Oxford English Dictionary on-line, http://80-dictionary.oed.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/cgi/entry/50060042?query_type=word;queryword=delegation;first=1;max_to_show=10;single=1;sort_type=alpha, accessed on March 9, 2005 2.Alan Chapman, http://www.businessballs.com/delegation.htm, accessed on March 9, 2005. 3.http://en.thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/delegating/, accessed on March 9, 2005.