TYPES OF AUTHORITY : LINE & STAFF ROLES Thursday, Dec 18 2008 

Authority is the right to perform or command. It allows its holder to act in certain designated ways and to directly influence the actions of others through orders.

It also allows its holder to allocate the organization’s resources to achieve organizational objectives.

AUTHORITY ON THE JOB :

Barnard  defines authority as the character of communication by which an order is accepted by an individual as governing the actions that individual takes within the system.

Barnard maintains that authority will be accepted only under the following conditions:

  1. The individual can understand the order being communicated.
  2. The individual believes the order is consistent with the purpose of the organization.
  3. The individual sees the order as compatible with his or her personal interests.
  4. The individual is mentally and physically able to comply with the order.

The fewer of these 4 conditions that are present, the lower the probability that authority will be accepted and obedience be exacted.

Barnad offers some guidance on what managers can do to raise the odds that their commands will be accepted and obeyed. He maintains that more and more of a manager’s commands will be accepted over the long term if:

  1. The manager uses formal channels of communication and these are familiar to all organization members.                                                                            
  2. Each organization member has an assigned formal communication channel through which orders are received.                                                              
  3. The line of communication between manager and subordinate is as direct as possible.                                                                                                                 
  4. The complete chain of command is used to issue orders.                                     
  5. The manager possesses adequate communication skills.                                     
  6. The manager uses formal communication lines only for organizational business.                                                                                                                                
  7. A command is authenticated as coming from a manager.

TYPES OF AUTHORITY:

3 main types of authority can exist within an organization:

  1. Line Authority
  2. Staff Authority
  3. Functional Authority

Each type exists only to enable individuals to carry out the different types of responsibilities with which they have been charged.

LINE AUTHORITY:

The most fundamental authority within an organization, reflects existing superior-subordinate relationships. It consists of the right to make decisions and to give order concerning the production,sales or finance related behaviour of subordinates.

In general, line authority pertains to matters directly involving management system production, sales, finance etc., and as a result with the attainment of objectives.

People directly responsible for these areas within the organization are delegated line authority to assist them in performing their obligatory activities.

 

STAFF AUTHORITY:

Staff authority consists of the right to advise or assist those who possess line authority as well as other staff personnel.

Staff authority enables those responsible for improving the effectiveness of line personnel to perform their required tasks.

 

Line and Staff personnel must work together closely to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. To ensure that line and staff personnel do work together productively, management must make sure both groups understand the organizational mission, have specific objectives, and realize that they are partners in helping the organization reach its objectives.

Size is perhaps the most significant factor in determining whether or not an organization will have staff personnel. The larger the organization, the greater the need and  ability to employ staff personnel.

As an organization expands, it usually needs employees with expertise in diversified areas. Although small organizations may also require this kind of diverse expertise, they often find it more practical to hire part time consultants to provide it is as needed rather than to hire full time staff personnel, who may not always be kept busy.

 

LINE – STAFF RELATIONSHIPS :

e.g. A plant manager has line authority over each immediate subordinate, human resource manager, the production manager and the sales manager.

However, the human resource manager has staff authority in relation to the plant manger, meaning the human resource manager has staff authority in relation to the plant manager, meaning the human resource manager possesses the right to advise the plant manager on human resource matters.

Still final decisions concerning human resource matters are in the hands of the plant manager, the person holding the line authority.

ROLE OF STAFF PERSONNEL:

Harold Stieglitz has pinpointed 3 roles that staff personnel typically perform to assist line personnel:

  1.  The Advisory or Counseling Role :   In this role, staff personnel use their professional expertise to solve organizational problems. The staff personnel are, in effect, internal consultants whose relationship with line personnel is similar to that of a professional and a client.                  
  2. The Service Role : Staff personnel in this role provide services that can more efficiently and effectively be provided by a single centralized staff group than by many individuals scattered throughout the organization. This role can probably best be understood if staff personnel are viewed as suppliers and line personnel as customers.                
  3. The Control Role : Staff personnel help establish a mechanism for evaluating  the effectiveness of organizational plans.

The role of staff in any organization  should be specifically designed to best meet the needs of that organization.

CONFLICT IN LINE – STAFF RELATIONSHIP:

From the view point of line personnel, conflict is created  because staff personnel tend to 

  • Assume Line Authority
  • Do not give Sound Advice
  • Steal Credit for Success
  • Fail to Keep  line personnel  informed of their activities
  • Do not see the whole picture.

From the view point of Staff Personnel, conflict is created because line personnel do not make proper use of staff personnel, resist new ideas and refuse to give staff personnel enough authority to do their jobs.

Staff Personnel can often avert line-staff conflicts if they strive to emphasize the objectives of the organization as a whole, encourage and educate line personnel in the appropriate use of staff personnel, obtain any necessary skills they do not already possess, and deal intelligently with the resistance to change rather than view it as an immovable barrier.

Line personnel can do their part to minimize line staff conflict by sing staff personnel wherever possible, making proper use of the staff abilities, and keeping staff personnel appropriately informed.

 

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FUNCTIONAL AUTHORITY:

Functional authority consists of the right to give orders within a segment of the organization in which this right is normally non existent.

This authority is usually assigned to individuals to complement the line or staff authority they already possess.

Functional Authority generally covers only specific task areas and is operational only for designated amounts of time. It is given to individuals who, in order to meet responsibilities in their own areas, must be able to exercise some control over organization members in other areas.

 

 

 

 


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MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY GUIDE Thursday, Dec 18 2008 

7 Responsibility Relationships among Managers, as used in the Management Responsibility Guide:

  1. General Responsibility: The individual who guides and directs the execution of the function through the person accepting operating responsibility.                                                                                                                            
  2. Operating Responsibility: The individual who is directly responsible for the execution of the Function.                                                           
  3. Specific Responsibility: The individual who is responsible for executing a specific or limited portion of the function.                                          
  4. Must be Consulted: The individual whose area is affected by a decision who must be called on to render advice or relate information before any decision is made or approval is granted. This individual does not, however, make the decision or grant approval.                                  
  5. May Be Consulted: The individual who may be called on to related information, render advice, or make recommendations before the action is taken.                                                                                                                       
  6. Must be Notified: The individual who must be notified of any action that has been taken.                                                                                                               
  7. Must Approve: The individual,other than persons holding general and operating responsibility who must approve or disapprove the decision.

RESPONSIBLE MANAGERS:

Managers can be described as responsible if they perform the activities they are obligated to perform. 

Since managers have more impact on an organization than non managers, responsible managers are a pre requisite for managemetn system success.

 

The degree of responsibility that a manager possesses can be determined by appraising the manager on the following 4 dimensions:

  1. Attitude toward and conduct with subordinates.
  2. Behaviour with Upper Management
  3. Behaviour with Other Groups
  4. Personal Attitudes and Values

4 Key Dimensions of Responsible Management Behaviour 

Attitude toward and conduct with subordinates.

  • Responsible Managers take complete charge of their work groups.
  • They Pass Praise and credit along to subordinates.
  • They stay close to problems and activities.
  • They take actions to maintain productivity and are willing to terminate poor performers if necessary.

Behaviour with Upper Management:

  • Responsible Managers accept criticism for mistakes and buffer their groups from excessive criticism.                                                                                  
  • Responsible managers ensure that their groups meet management expectations and objectives.

Behaviour with Other Groups :

  • Responsible Managers make sure that any gaps between their areas and those of other managers are securely filled.

Personal Attitudes & Values:

  • Responsible managers identify with the group.
  • Put organizational goals ahead of personal desires or activities.
  • Perform tasks for which there is no immediate reward but that help subordinates, the company or both.
  • Conserve corporate resources as if the resources were their own.

RESPONSIBILITY Thursday, Dec 18 2008 

Responsibility is the obligation to perform assigned activities. It is the self assumed commitment to handle a job to the best of one’s ability.

The source of responsibility lies within the individual.

A person who accepts a job agrees to carry out a series of duties or activities or to see that someone else carries them out.

The act of accepting the job means that the person is obligated to a superior (relationship management) to see that job activities are successfully completed.

THE JOB DESCRIPTION:

An individual’s job activities within an organization are usually summarized in a formal statement called a job description – a list of specific activities that must be performed by whoever holds the position.

Unclear job descriptions Can confuse employees and may cause them to lose interest in their jobs. On the other hand, a clear job description can help employees to become successful by focusing their efforts on  the issues that are important for their position.

When properly designed, job descriptions communicate job content to employees, establish performance levels that employees must maintain, and act as a guide that employees should follow to help the organization reach its objectives.

Job activities are delegated by management to enhance the accomplishment of  management system objectives.

Management analyzes its objectives and assigns specific duties that will lead to reaching those objectives. A sound organizing strategy delineates specific job activities for every individual in the organization.

The following 3 areas are related to responsibility:

  1. Dividing Job Activities
  2. Clarifying Job activities of managers
  3. Being Responsible

DIVIDING JOB ACTIVITIES:

One person cannot be responsible for performing all of the activities that take place within an organization. Since so many people work in a given management system, organizing necessarily involves dividing job activities among a no. of individuals.

Some method of distributing these job activities is essential.

THE FUNCTIONAL SIMILARITY METHOD:

The functional similarity method is the most basic method of dividing job activities.

Management should take 4 basic interrelated steps to divide job activities in the following sequence:

  1. Examine management system objectives.
  2. Designate Appropriate activities that must be performed to reach those objectives.
  3. Design specific jobs by grouping similar activities.
  4. Make specific individuals responsible for performing those jobs.

 

FUNCTIONAL SIMILARITY & RESPONSIBILITY:

3 additional guides can be used to supplement the functional similarity method.

  1. Overlapping Responsibility should be avoided when making job activity divisions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Overlapping responsibility refer to a situation in which more than one individual is responsible for the same activity.                                                                                                                                                                                           Generally speaking, only one person should be responsible for completing one activity.                                                                                    When 2 or more employees are unclear about who should do a job because of overlapping responsibility, it usually leads to conflict and poor working relationships. Often the Job does not get done because each employee assumes the other will do it.                                                                       
  2. RESPONSIBILITY GAP:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A responsibility gap exists when certain tasks are not included in the responsibility area of an individual organization member. This results in a situation in which nobody within the organization is obligated to perform certain necessary activities.                                                                                                                                       
  3. Management should avoid creating job activities for accomplishing tasks that do not enhance goal  attainment. Organization members should be obligated to perform only those activities that lead to goal attainment.

Chain of Command Thursday, Dec 18 2008 

Departmentalization, Division of Labour, Span of Control and the 4th aspect of organizing effort is SCALAR RELATIONSHIPS – The Chain of Command.

Every organization is built on the premise that the individual at the top possesses the most authority and that other individual’s authority is scaled downward according to their relative position on the organization chart.
The lower a person’s position on the organization chart, then, the less authority that person possesses.
The Scale Relationship or Chain of Command is related to the unity of command.
UNITY OF COMMAND is the management principle that recommends that an individual  have only 1 boss.
If too many bosses give orders, the result will probably be confusion, contradiction and frustration –  a sure recipe for ineffectiveness and inefficiency in an organization.
Although the unity of command principle is 75 years old, it is still considered as a valid and critical one.
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Fayol recommends that a gangplank be created for a peer level communication within and across departments with structures to keep the organization updated on the information shared.