Some Factors that encourage Managers to give their Subordinates more Opportunitiesto make Decisions and/or Do more higher-level Activities.


1 These notes discuss some factors that will influence whether Managers provide opportunities for their to increase the range and/or difficulty of their activities and the decisions they make.

2 The phrase “” describes an approach which aims to: (a) provide people with more position authority to make decisions and/or (b) carry out various activities (either by themselves or with less supervision) which they did not do previously.

3 These notes use the phrase “job enrich” in the future to avoid using the long phrase “more opportunities to make decisions and/or do more higher–level activities.

4 The factors that contribute to discouraging Managers from enriching the job of their Subordinates will prove the reverse of the following lists of factors. o

 A Summary of the Factors discussed

5 The following list shows the factors discussed –

     (a) A Manager’s

           (i) , excluding some specific attitudes

          (ii) Age

          (iii) Attitudes to some specific aspects

          (iv) Experience


          (vi) Knowledge of a Subordinate’s Job

           (vii) Interest in Training/Coaching Others

          (viii) Ability to Develop an with Subordinates.

         (ix) Power Base – and the power base of the Subordinate – in relation to the decision made.

     (b) The Type of Job Activity and the Type of Results which comes from a particular .

     (c) A Subordinate’s Calibre and Desire for an Job.

     (d) The of the Manager’s Manager.

     (e) The ’s

          (i) Attitude to Enriching

          (ii) Profitability

A Manager’s Personality

6 In general, the personality of Managers describes a series of tendencies (traits) to act in a certain way. (Examples: quiet, cooperative, self confident, calm, persistent.) However other factors in their environment (e.g. their Immediate Manager, the Organisation’s ) will affect how these tendencies operate – the likely level of providing opportunities for their Subordinates to “enrich” their jobs.

The General Maturity of the Manager

7 General maturity describes one aspect of a person’s personality in a broad and somewhat imprecise way. It aims to describe a person with some or all of the following characteristics: self confident, independent, less worried about making errors than the average person, more prepared to take the blame for things which they believe they have caused, able to identify and accept their own limitations. They will not feel as if the ground will shift from under them at any given moment and, therefore, they rate as “psychologically secure”.

A Longer-Term View-Point

8 Some Managers take a longer-term view of their activities: they believe in “sacrificing” some time now for a benefit several months or a year ahead. Thus Managers can spend some time now helping their Subordinates to learn new and more difficult activities and/or training them to take higher-level decisions. They do so because they believe that, in the long run, it will help both themselves and their Organisation.

9 This factor relates to the general maturity factor. A person who feels psychologically secure can afford to take a longer-term outlook.

  No Fear of Competition

10 Managers who (a) do not fear competition from their Subordinates and/or (b) do not worry that their Subordinates might do something better than themselves will have a high probability of enriching the jobs of Subordinates.

11 This factor also relates to the maturity of a Manager.

A “Lazy” Manager will delegate more

12 describes a trait of a person. However it has such a broad meaning that a person who appears lazy in one way will prove highly energetic in another way. Thus the concept of laziness represents a difficult descriptive term.

13 Sometimes Managers say they delegate because of their “laziness”. However probably they tend to make a joke of the situation and in reality do not really believe this statement.

14 However Managers who perceive a situation where they will have an easier/more-enjoyable life if their Subordinates do certain activities will certainly delegate such activities. Such activities may pp enrich a particular Subordinate’s job.

The Age of the Manager

15 Some Managers become more rigid as they get older and will take less risks. Presumably this state will encourage them to perceive enriching activities as taking more risk and therefore they will tend to avoid such an approach.

16 However as some people get older they will take more risks in their job because they have greater financial independence.

17 Others realise the need to find ways of increasing the productivity of human resources and will feel more prepared to try enriching as one possible method. Some accept the level they have reached and no longer see younger and more energetic people as threats to their promotion.

Age - in Relation to Retiring Age

18 Sometimes the closeness of Managers to their retirement will affect their approach to enriching activities.

19 Some Managers believe they can take more risks with situations and still retain their position. Others see the need to spend more time developing a replacement. Some will want to take a very conservative approach so they can retire “with a clean slate”.

20 In summary, age provides no sure way of predicting the chance that a particular Manager will aim to job enrich.

Attitudes to Specific Aspects

The Extent to which Managers can avoid interfering with the Manner that People use to achieve End Objectives

21 People try to achieve end objectives in different ways. Some Managers want to lay down in detail just what Subordinates should do. They want everything done in the way they would have done it, if they had tried to achieve the same objective. Those Managers who want to check closely their Subordinates functioning will tend to “de-rich” jobs.

     22 Example. Jane, a Manager, wants a letter written to achieve a particular objective. She should appreciate that people will write letters in different ways. Thus a Subordinate would write the letter differently from Jane. Provided Jane believes the letter will achieve its objectives she should accept the letter. If she feels the letter will not achieve its objective she will have to suggest alterations (at the very least)

23 Such situations as described in the example and in the previous paragraph usually prove a matter of opinion.

24 The Subordinate will not agree with the Manager that some action e.g. the letter) will not achieve the objective. Thus if the Manager interferes and instructs the Subordinate to change something the Subordinate probably will rate the change as unjustified.

25 Managers should learn the many ways which exist in which they can rake part in the way a person will try to achieve an end objective. Choosing the “right” way does not prove easy.


26 For some Managers the more experience they gain in managing Subordinates, the greater their ability to predict how Subordinates will feel about the various approaches they take in managing these Subordinates.

27 However this point depends on the sensitivity of the Managers to other people’s reactions to what they do plus what the Managers have learnt because of their experience. (Although sometimes ten years of experience means one year of experience repeated ten times.)

     1 The notes “Some Possibilities in Giving Sub Objectives to Others” provides further information on this topic.

28 A Manager’s experience may include some form of courses/training in management techniques. Such Managers will have had the chance of discussing their approaches and adding some management techniques to the way they manage their Subordinates.

29 Presumably, more techniques and additional experience helps them to see possibilities for trying enriching activities in a manner which will involve less risk. Further they will accept the desirability of taking some risks.

30 Example. Probably Managers who know such techniques as Completed Staff Work2 and/or who know a distinction between a decision and a recommendation will see and establish more enriching possibilities for their Subordinates. (See the Appendix at the end of these notes.)

 Job Security

31 If Managers believe they could lose their position, they will take fewer risks in enriching their Subordinate’s positions – in case it increases their chances of losing their job. Further, insecurity of their position will decrease the probability of a Manager taking a longer- term view point.

Amount of Knowledge of the Manager of the Subordinate’s Job

32 Managers who tend to manage in detail probably will do so more with jobs with which they have some familiarity. This situation occurs where a Manager has done the job (or something similar) which one of their Subordinates has done.

     33 Example. A Marketing Manager who gained promotion through Market Research will know many more questions to ask about Market Research as compared with (say) Sales Management. Probably this Manager will ask those questions to check some aspects of the Market Research Manager’s performance and plans. If the same Marketing Manager had gained promotion through Sales Management this Manager would not have the knowledge to ask the questions.

Interest in Training/Coaching Others

34 Some Managers will gain personal satisfaction by training one or more Subordinates to take over for them and/or help their Subordinates to perform better. This factor depends on a Manager’s own personal attitudes – just how much do Managers enjoy raining/developing other people to improve the performance of these other people.

2 Completed Staff Work involves an approach which asks a Subordinate and/or Staff Person to bring a recommended solution whenever they present a problem. See the Cullen Morton notes on Completed Staff Work for details.

35 Perhaps only about one in ten Managers have much interest in coaching their Subordinates.

36 In addition, disadvantages exist in developing Subordinates.

37 In setting themselves these objectives, Managers run the parallel risk that it will prove easier for an Organisation to promote them if they have a well-trained Second in Command. But it will also prove easier for the Organisation to get rid of them! The Organisation be– comes less dependent on such Managers.

38 Similarly Organisations can take away well-trained Subordinates from such Managers and move them to other sections of the Organisation. The Organisation may do so without rewarding these Managers, If Managers view the situation in this way, they will tend to do less enriching.

39 Most Organisations provide few rewards for Managers who develop their Subordinates.

40 Some Organisations pay lip-service to the importance of coaching Subordinates. Most put far greater emphasis on the achievement of the short-term objectives off the Manager’s position – usually connected with some type of profit gain and/or cost containment or reduction.

41 For some independent evidence on this point Readers should check just how many formal written appraisal plans include the factor of coaching/developing Subordinates.

Ability to develop an open Relationship between Manager and Subordinate

42 If Managers behave so that others believe they can criticise them (i.e. behave openly (, probably they rate as “secure”. Probably a link exists between the trait of secureness and communication actions.

43 Managers (who believe in openness) can discuss matters with their Subordinates in a way which will increase the probability that such Managers will realise their Subordinates want the chance to gain job enrichment. Thus if Managers promote better communication between themselves and their Subordinates (e.g. acting fairly, gaining the trust of their Subordinates) they give their Subordinates the chance to influence them. Hence Subordinates have more chance of influencing their Managers to take “enriching actions”.

Power Base of the Manager and/or Subordinate in relation to the Decision made

44 What will happen if Managers do not accept particular decisions of one of their Subordinates and/or if the Subordinate does not make any decision?

45 Sometimes Subordinates have particular knowledge of the likely effect of making a particular decision. In these circumstances, they have a high probability of getting their Manager to make the decision in a way the Subordinate feels appropriate. Such Subordinates can evaluate the factors about which they have more knowledge than the Manager and perhaps even “frighten” their Manager into making a particular decision.

     46 Examples. An Industrial Relations Manager can tell the General Manager that, if the General Manager decides to punish a person in a particular way, almost certainly the Factory Employees will strike.

47 Managers can influence some Subordinates into accepting Decision “A” by telling the Subordinates that the Departmental- Head’s Boss favours Decision “A” and opposes Decision

48 Thus Managers with a particular power base can find grounds for not giving Subordinates the right to make a particular decision. Managers can point out that a Subordinate lacks appropriate information about the attitude of the Manager above the Subordinate’s Immediate Manager.

The Type of Job Activity and/or the Type of Result that comes from a Particular Decision

49 Managers take less risk in getting a Subordinate to do a job where:

     (a) an activity proves easy to interrupt and reverse to correct any errors,

     (b) the delegated activity involves a small amount of money if something goes wrong,

     (c) the implementation proceeds slowly and/or the Manager can easily observe the implementation and Managers can identify quickly the need to take some corrective action.

The Subordinate’s Calibre and Desire for Job Enrichment

50 Managers who have a high opinion of the calibre of particular Subordinates and/or believe that some Subordinates want more enrichment probably will offer such Subordinates greater enrichment.

 The Attitudes of the Manager’s Managers

51 Sometimes Managers receive instructions from a higher-level Manager that they have to do some specific things themselves. Sometimes they receive criticism for letting one of their Subordinates make a particular decision. The attitude of a Manager’s Manager plus other Senior Managers will tend to encourage, or discourage, a Manager to try enriching activities.

An Organisation’s Attitude to enriching Jobs

52 An Organisation’s attitude to coaching Subordinates to increase their knowledge and enrich their jobs will almost certainly influence what their individual Managers do in this area.

53 Some Organisations make statements about, and pay lip service to, the desirability of Managers developing their Subordinates. Few Organisations or Bosses of Managers actually try to measure what a Manager does in this area and reward or punish according to the results achieved.

54 I-low many formal appraisal plans include “Subordinate Development” as something to evaluate? If the appraisal does include this factor, how much weight does the evaluation put on this factor as compared with the weight given to other factors?

55 How many times do Managers receive a merit increase (as opposed to
a cost-of-living increase) for successful efforts in developing Subordinates?

56 Sometimes punishment occurs. The Organisation takes away Subordinates that Managers coach to a high standard and transfers/promotes them to another section. Thus Managers lose some important help in gaining their Section’s objectives. However, some will gain personal satisfaction from seeing the people they have “developed” gain promotion.

57 Few Managers will feel happy about having one of their good people taken from them and their section; it only makes their task harder. However if they get some compensating reward they will continue developing their Subordinates.

The Profitability of the Organisation

58 Managers who work in a profitable Organisation and/or Division will prove more likely to take risks in giving a Subordinate more enriching opportunities.


59 The desirability of enriching a Subordinate’s job will depend on the Subordinate’s existing attitude to the desirability of making various types of decisions and/or carrying out various additional (perhaps harder) activities.

60 A wise approach to enrichment involves offering the Subordinate the opportunity to make higher-level decisions and carry out “harder” activities. Generally, Managers should not force Subordinates to make the decisions and/or take on the harder activities.

61 At the same time Managers should realise that some Subordinates have spent years in situations where their Managers have not trusted them to carry out various activities. These Managers have not wanted to enrich their Subordinate’s position; some Managers will have actively discouraged their Subordinates from taking any initiatives in this area.

62 Thus anyone attempting to enrich a position must not expect favourable results. Managers should expect success only after some (?many) months of patient encouragement.

Appendix: Two Ideas to help Managers achieve Completed Staff Work

63 Too few Subordinates appreciate the distinction between a recommendation and a decision.

64 Some Subordinates believe that if they make a recommendation it will prove equivalent to a decision. Some feel worried about making a decision. However they should realise that making a recommendation does not involve anyone taking any action at all – except “thinking” –

65 A Manager can always reject a recommendation. However a person who makes the decision and starts to implement it reaches a situation where sometimes it may prove difficult to withdraw and/or some harm will already have occurred.

66 Sometimes Managers try to use Completed Staff Work (i.e. ask people to bring them recommended solutions as compared with just problems) and find difficulties in getting their Subordinates to provide Completed Staff Work.

67 A further suggestion: If a Subordinate does not respond well to the term “recommendation” Managers might care to try the following approach: “What would you do if you had to take some action and you could not get in touch with me or any other appropriate Executive?”


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