The Oxford English Dictionary defines Delegation as “The action of delivering or assigning a thing to a person or to a purpose.” Delegation is very important in the Air Force and military in general. When managers do not delegate, they can become overwhelmed. The concept of delegation can be difficult to master. I was a Contracting Officer for 6 years. During that time, I not only saw delegation within the military structure but also to the contractors we employed. Delegation seems like an easy concept, but not everyone understands it and completes it with confidence. Some managers use delegation to ensure that they are not the only ones to blame in a failure. Some managers will delegate the difficult jobs or the ones they don’t want to complete themselves. These are not the reasons delegation should be used in the business world. Delegation can be a great motivational tool, showing employees that they are trusted enough to complete a task. It shows that managers have confidence in the employee. Delegation can also help you as a manager and a sense of accomplishment once the task is completed. As a manager who delegates, you have more time to do other tasks. You could move up the career ladder more quickly because you have time to devote to other projects and your team gets more work done. Every business or office has an opportunity for some form of delegation.
Delegation is an everyday occurrence in the Air Force. The Air Force consists of a Chain of Command. At the top of this list is the President of the United States. At the bottom is your average airman. In the middle of this list are commanders, first sergeants, and superintendents. Everything from when to show up for work to how long physical training will last is delegated down the chain. It is the people at the top who make the decisions of what needs to be done, but the individuals at the bottom are the ones who actually get the job done. This is only the military tasks. When it comes to the individual jobs in the Air Force, each unit delegates in it’s own way. As a Contracting Officer, our office negotiated and wrote contracts for every service and supply needed on the base. This included buying new computers and office supplies for offices to the janitorial services for every building. Before the contract was awarded, market research needed to be done. We would have the customer or office requesting the service or supply would research different companies and determine exactly what is out there in the marketplace and what is needed for their offices. After market research was completed, we took over until the contract was negotiated and awarded to a company. At that point, most of the responsibility was delegated to the Quality Assurance Advisor on service type contracts. This individual was in charge of inspecting the contractors and verifying that the work was completed. Each month, the contractor would submit an invoice for payment for that month. The Quality Assurance Advisor would have to sign off on the invoice to ensure that the work was completed and payment is justified. As a Contracting Officer, you are too busy with negotiating other contracts and ensuring that the contractual part of all the contracts are being adhered to. If there are problems, it is usually the Quality Assurance Advisor that brings it to our attention. We can amend the contract or give the contractor a notice, but we can’t be at the site every day. For contracts for supplies, the customer requesting and receiving the supplies simply let us know when the item is received and correct. Once we are notified that the contract is complete, we release the payment to the contractor. This type of delegation is necessary for our office. The Quality Assurance Advisors must be recommended by their commander and go through a lot of training before they can claim that title. Some Quality Assurance Advisors are responsible for million dollar contracts. Some people say that delegation has seven levels. These levels range from the manager telling the employee not to do anything until they tell them all the way to the manager telling the employee that something needs to be done, but it is up to the employee to come up with a solution, put it to action, and let everyone know the result. The level you as a manager feel comfortable with depends on the individuals you are responsible for and the level of trust you have for each of them. At one point, I was the Contracting Officer for 6 individuals. I always tried to allow the employees under me to feel responsible for their actions, good and bad, and I believe that delegation can give a little extra of confidence for someone who questions their own abilities. I was never comfortable enough to reach that seventh level of delegation and let go of all responsibility to the task. Delegation involves some risk taking. When a manager delegates tasks to their employees, and the task is not completed properly, a majority of the responsibility for the task is on the manager. If the task is not completed, the manager could be the one to get reprimanded. Of course it rolls downhill, and the manager will reprimand the employee, and the manager will hold back on delegation to that employee in the future. There are some signs to look for when delegating to ensure that you are doing it properly. If a manager is working late every night, they probably aren’t delegating enough. Once a task has been delegated, if questions are still being asked by employees about that task, it was delegated to someone who may not be able to handle the task, or instructions were not clear. If morale in your unit is low, the employees are not getting enough responsibility and recognition. Managers need to delegate the right information to the right people and let those employees shine. Stephen Comiskey once stated, “You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.” When used properly, delegation can be a great tool for both managers and employees. Managers and employees working together to get tasks done are more efficient and work better as a team. It takes time and effort to develop a good system of delegation, but the end result can help you in your career and confidence level. During my Air Force career, I learned a lot about delegation. This helps me delegate in my current job as a stay at home mom. Everything from my husband’s honey-do list to getting my son to pick up his toys require some level of delegation. 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.