Organisations achieve their corporate or business plans by the deployment of people in a variety of jobs.
The traditional arrangement of jobs is a hierarchy where employees report to a supervisor. Generally, the supervisor’s job is to assign work and responsibilities to the people who report to him and subsequently, he oversees work accomplishments.
Assignment of Accountabilities vs Assignment of Tasks
The supervisor may assign work by specifying tasks, i.e. how to get things done, or he can assign accountability to deliver / accomplish something with less prescription on how to get things done. Where employees are working in an arrangement where the supervisor needs to assign “how to” tasks daily, the supervisor usually cannot manage more than 8 to 10 direct reports. In contrast, where the supervisor is able to assign work by specifying the result, then the supervisor can manage many more direct reports. It has been established that supervisors who prescribe “how to” tasks are generally less productive than supervisors who assign accountabilities for results, i.e. “what to deliver”.
Span of Control
The Span of Control is a concept that is important in hierarchies (for assignment of tasks)
When the supervisor is leading a group of team members who are very capable, span of control can be very wide because the supervision is merely setting the targets and standards for the delivery of results. He need not specify detailed “how to do” for capable employees. In Situational Leadership method promoted by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, the style of leadership (telling, selling, participating and delegating) is applied dependent on the “Maturity” of the subordinates (capability).
Not all employees are the same
Therefore, if the maturity of the subordinate is M1 (Low Maturity) then the effective style of leadership is Telling. If the maturity of the subordinate is M4 (High Maturity) then the effective style is Delegating.
M1 – Are employees who lack of specific skills required for the job and who are not appropriately motivated to produce the results expected.
M2 – Are employees who have the required skills; however they need the appropriate motivation.
M3 – Are employees who have the skills; however they may lack the confidence in getting the task done.
M4 – Are employees who are able and willing to get the task done and be accountable for the results.
Jobs are usually designed to achieve strategy. Employees who are assigned a job must have the required capability.
This diagram illustrates the situation where the capability of employee A, B, and C are lower than the job requirements. This can be established when both the Job Evaluation and the person capability is judged on the same scale.
It has been established that a reasonably effective arrangement would be for the person to match the job requirement. Where there is a gap of two or more capability levels(M1) then the supervision style is likely to be Telling and usually the accountability does not pass down to the subordinates. This would make managing for results more difficult.