John Smithers learned all about leadership in the military, and he is hoping to apply those skills to running John’s Deals to Go, his small automobile-leasing company. One interesting feature of life in the armed services is that considerable responsibilities are delegated to young men and women who have very little work experience. Smithers was only 27 when he was assigned duties as a purchasing manager at Kandahar Airport, Afghanistan, in 2003. As a young Marine, he was directly responsible for nearly $50 million in purchasing contracts, which forced him to grow up—and really fast!
To parallel his military experience, Smithers and his small management team have decided to use various methods to delegate decision making to employees at the operating level in his company. New employees are trained thoroughly after they are first hired, but supervisors will not monitor their work closely once they have learned their duties. Management is willing to jump in and help if truly needed, but they purposely leave workers alone when they take on their assigned duties. Managers will not look over employees’ shoulders to be sure that they are doing their jobs as assigned, and they certainly do not monitor the work just to try to catch someone making a mistake. Smithers’s managerial philosophy is that people work best when they sense that their superiors trust their abilities and their business integrity.
Smithers and his team sometimes leave for day-long meetings and allow the employees to run the business by themselves. Job assignments are defined rather loosely, but management expects employees to assume responsibility and to take necessary action whenever they see that something needs to be done. To reinforce the message of trust, employees who ask for direction are sometimes simply told to solve the problem in whatever way they think best.
Address the case scenario by applying the information learned in Lesson 6 and the related chapters in your textbooks. Answer the following questions in a well written essay.
Is such a loosely organized firm likely to be as effective as a firm that defines jobs more precisely and monitors performance more closely?
What are the advantages and the limitations of the managerial style described above?
How might such managerial methods affect morale?
Would you like to work for this company? Why or why not?