Allocating Work Rôles

On digestion of this outline, you should be able to:

Definition of terms

An organisation is a group of people working together in concerted or coordinated effortto attain objectives.


assignment of responsibility & authority


duty to perform a task or duty; can be delegated


moral obligation to perform a task or duty: cannot be delegated


the right to give orders and expect to be followed; the right to perform tasks without superior permission

Functional authority

temporary, whilst working outside one's normal area eg, as a member of a project team

Job description -

a written statement -what is done, why and how

Job specification

minimum acceptable personal qualities & qualifications of an incumbent

Line relationship

chain of command - who orders whom and who obeys whom

Staff relationship

advice and consultancy - no power to order changes

Span of control

number of subordinates who can be controlled effieciently & efectively

Unity of command

one boss per person


The Organising Function

Chief executives are responsible for the overall activities of an

organisation, but
each manager or supervisor is responsible for the organisation of his/her own department.


Traditional Allocation of Work Rôles

Originally, oldest and longest serving got best jobs
Changing emphasis on young and vital - but age is still a discriminator.
Characteristically different jobs - varies in different cultures
As with above, changing emphasis - Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action
imply gender is still a major issue.
Trades and skills passed on - often protected from outsiders.
Influence of education and background maintained status quo.
Educational, trade or skill
Required documentation
Changed nature of eligibility v suitability eg medical students now being selected by aptitude
Public Service insists on selection of most eligible candidate by qualification and experience- what does or can this mean and lead to?


Surprise fits are often found by accident and are few in number; tend to stay because they are surprised, and are ineligible for like jobs outside their present employment. [I cannot remember when I first used this diagram - but suspect I now have the positions for Surprise Fits and Poor Fits reversed - what do you think?]

Eligibility can always be improved through training. The most eligible are often over-rated whereas the most suitable are seldom recognised.

Qualities of improvers [new appointees] were seen by supervisors as

Non-improvers were seen as

Factors were not equal in frequency.

Those who get on tend to be those who self-manage and who are aware of their rôle relationships - not the technically able. Successful teams and individuals are aware of their strengths, avoid areas where they cannot compete, and adopt compensating strategies.

Do not be forced into maintaining a rôle which is not yours.

Changing nature of job market - jobs not so well defined, job descriptions change regularly, managers are more volatile

Nature of legal changes - employers cannot afford to make selection mistakes.

Growing emphasis on behaviour - personality fit.


Organisational Structure

Unity of command implies one boss per person.

Authority should run in a chain, or line from the chief executive downwards.

Functions and responsibilities of each level must be dissected in each subordinate position and worked out in more detail; ie, all general responsibilities of CEO must be covered somewhere by someone, and no one can have a task which is not a dissection of someone further up the chain [see Outline 14]

The CEO can delegate her responsibilities, but not her accountability [to Board, shareholders, whatever] - as can every manager below her. If a particular task is broken down and constantly delegated until it ends up with the floorsweeper, she/he is ultimately responsible for seeing that the task is carried out - but each delegator remains accountable to the higher level for seeing that it is done - ie, if the CEO finds the floor dirty, she should ask her deputy to account for it - she in turn will ask the next level manager and so on. The CEO should not directly abuse the floorsweeper, nor should the various managers try to wipe their hands of it by saying - I passed it on to manager xyz.

Each level of management should be given the authority as well as the responsibility to carry out the delegated task. At the end of the line, the floorsweeper should be allowed to draw necessary stores such as a broom without having to seek superior permission - filling in 15 forms in triplicate?

Project teams

temporary - finish when project does
dual lines of accountability - to project leader and permanent head
can be cause of conflict if a member tries to play one boss off against the other
[I recall once working for a navy department and being allocated two days a week to the air force for a project. When I asked the latter which two days, they suggested Friday as one day because the base finished work at 1400. Three months later, my navy boss tried to contact me at 1500 and was not very happy that I had been finishing work at 1400 when his department continued till 1700!]



Belbin's Team Rôle Descriptions

Somewhat like a Myers-Briggs test, people can complete questions which reveal the rôle for which they would be best suited, and Belbin [see bibliography] argues that we all fit into a dominant and a secondary rôle. Table shows rôle name, strength of contribution in that rôle, & allowable weaknesses.

Executives rarely strong in all rôles - need to find complementary types to make an effective team. Without doing any tests, you may be able to see yourself or others herein - but don't take it too seriously without further detailed analysis of what Belbin says.


Creative, imaginative, unorthodox, solves difficult problems

Ignores details, too pre-occupied to communicate effectively

Resource Investigator

Extrovert, enthusiast, communicative, explores opportunities, develops contacts

Overoptimistic, loses interest quickly


Mature, confident, good chair, clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well.

Can be seen as manipulative, delegates personal work.


Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure, has drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

Can provoke others, hurt feelings

Monitor evaluator

Sober, strategic and discerning, sees all options, judges accurately.

Lacks drive and ability to inspire others, overly critical.


Co-operative, mild, perceptive, diplomatic; listens, builds, averts friction, calms.

Indecisive in crunch situations, can be easily influenced.


Disciplined, reliable, conservative, efficient, turns ideas into practical actions.

Somewhat inflexible, slow to respond to new possibilities


Painstaking, conscientious, anxious, searches out errors and omissions, delivers on time

Inclined to worry unduly, reluctant to delegate, can be a nitpicker.


Singleminded, self starting, dedicated, provides knowledge and skills in rare supply.

Contributes on only a narrow front, dwells on technicalities, overlooks the big picture.

Pitfalls & Problems of Team Work

Make sure

Be wary if


Strained relations

Sometimes, members of a team do not get on as well as they should, or you, the manager, have problems with one of the members. Belbin sees 3 groups, symbolised by:

Need to look for strengths of each party -

perhaps by examining weaknesses and

assuming in good faith that negatives also have their positive sides.

Need to try to find mutual rôle recognition - as this may be missing or obscured, for one or both.

Need for one to move to a secondary rôle which is more manageable but probably only a temporary solution.

Introduction of a third party may help - may also disrupt a working relationship.


Steps to Success

  1. For a project, use of working parties to present reports to the committee - allowing chair to incorporate outsiders.
  2. For the organisation, change in selection procedures - not selecting what you already have, restructuring the job - will need an outside consultant to avoid inbuilt processes and culture.
  3. Ask the right questions - what is the goal? Find Shapers and Co-ordinators to formulate.
  4. Find a good project manager or CEO and let him pick his own team - but may prefer those he is comfortable with, not necessarily the best for the team.
  5. Choose a talented specialist and then find a manager who can relate well to her/him. The ensuing team needs to be one without conflicting priorities - but functional and seniority considerations tend to intrude.
  6. Once team is chosen for a project, not before, decide on the style to be followed - regular meetings of all, working in small groups or individually?
    1. Identify needs - set right targets - shapers and co-ordinators
    2. Find ideas - how to proceed - plants and resource investigators
    3. Formulate plans - weigh up options & make sure all resources are made good use of - monitor evaluators and specialists
    4. Make contacts - persuade doubters that improvement is likely and appease those disturbed - resource investigators and team workers
    5. Establish the organisation - develop plans, procedures, methods, working paractices - implementers and co-ordinators
    6. Follow through - make sure that all works well - completers and implementers

Casting director needs to put right people in right jobs - often falls to CEO or another senior executive - hence need for them to be well trained. Use of computer-assisted typing of team rôles - vastly expensive but worthwhile. In smaller organisations, casting director will need broad vision.



Go to the Bibliography

Return to List of Outlines

Go back to Outline 3 - Motivation & Job Satisfaction

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