If you were Samantha Parks, how would you prioritize which projects or parts of projects to delegate?
Samantha Parks’ business is Marketing. Marketing is both business and art; both left-brained and right-brained. Samantha Parks is the CEO, so her primary responsibility may be business, but as it is her company, and an artsy one at that, she will likely feel inclined to be more involved than would a CEO of a paper mill.
Knowing only what was told to us in the Case Incident, if I were Samantha Parks, I would probably pick the accounts I thought I could best serve myself, and then leave the rest of the creative efforts to my workers (except for the occasional input should I have an opinion). That way I could still exercise my creativity while maintaining my function as CEO. We have to keep in mind that in this case, CEO or not, she is still one of the artists.I actually really admire the way that Duff Goldman runs his business, Charm City Cakes, on the Food Network’s old show “Ace of Cakes”. He is an artist, a cake designer. He hired a bunch of his friends to make specialty cakes with him. He does make cakes himself, but with most of the cakes, he divvies out the workload based on the skill of his employees. For instance, he gives the most skilled painters the cakes with a lot of food-coloring painting required, or the cakes that need gum paste figures, he may give to the best sculptors. And he has no problem telling any one of them that they have to make a certain cake, even if it’s one they aren’t looking forward to making. But he does it with a good-natured, “I know you can do it” chuckle. He also has no problem telling people if something isn’t working right. That usually happens with interns, as opposed to his friends. But with his friends, the actual cake designers, they all kind of problem solve together, instead of taking the hierarchal approach. They all want to put the best cake out there, and if one of them is slacking, everybody pitches in to make it work. But if Duff got a bunch of whining from some of them about working late to fix it, he wouldn’t have any problem pulling rank. It works.
To me, it seems like Ms. Parks has hand-picked wonderful employees, and she should breathe easy knowing that they can do what they were hired to do. So, she may not be entirely “nonsubstitutable” (“the fewer the viable substitutes for a resource, the more power control over that resource provides” (Robbins, pg. 418)), since there are probably others in her employ that could technically create the marketing campaigns, she still likely has an edge as a very capable marketer. If it were me, I would try to see who could best serve the customer in each circumstance – whether it was me or not.
In explaining what makes her decisions hard, Parks said, “I hire good people, creative people, to run these projects, and I worry that they will see my oversight and authority as interfering with their creative process.” How can she deal with these concerns without giving up too much control?
Power is defined as, “a capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B so that B acts in accordance with A’s wishes” (Robbins, pg ). In this case, Ms. Parks has the power to make whatever decisions in her own, private company that she wants, and her employees can go with it or leave (if she were fully capitalizing on the General Dependence Postulate “the greater B’s dependence on A, the more power A has over B” (Robbins, pg. 416)). But the text also states that “someone can…have power but not use it” (Robbins, pg. 412).
Expert Power is defined as, “Influence based on special skills or knowledge” (Robbins, pg. 415). While Ms. Parks should not micromanage (keep in control of every aspect of the job), she should retain her right to speak her piece in certain decisions. It is assumed that the reason owner Ms. Parks decided to remain the CEO of Sparks is that she believes she has something to offer. She likely has valuable knowledge and skills that she can contribute, and I don’t think she should apologize for using the expert power she has.
Now, while both Ms. Parks and her employees should realize that she has the final authority in all decisions of her company, and that she should not apologize for putting in her two cents when she feels she was something to offer, it would behoove her to try “speaking the truth in love” as Ephesians 4:15 says. The text seems to put that concept in the same category as political skill (“the ability to influence others in such a way as to enhance one’s objectives” (Robbins, pg. 421)), which has a manipulative connotation to it. The text also says that “[P]eople don’t like to feel others are manipulating them through impression management” (Robbins, pg. 423). But if what Ms. Parks said in the Case Incident (that she hires good and creative people) is true, then she shouldn’t have to lie, patronize her people, or do anything manipulative to smooth over any bristly subjects that may arise. It is legitimate to say, “Gina, I know you have a lot of experience in coming up with advertising slogans, and normally, I’d let you run with it, but I had an idea I really wanted to use. What do you think about this…?” Or “Gina, you have a real gift in coming up with advertising slogans, and you’ve shown it from day one – that’s why I hired you. But I think this particular demographic will find that slogan offensive. What if you try this…?” Those are not examples of “working over” Gina. That’s a CEO honestly giving her opinion, while being as diplomatic as possible. It’s pulling rank, but gently so. That’s a worthwhile skill to develop, whether you’re at the top or bottom of the chain of command.
Should executives try to control projects to maintain their position of authority? Do they have a right to control projects and keep in the loop on important decisions just so they can remain in charge?
The question “Should executives try to control projects to maintain their position of authority?” has two parts. I believe they should control whatever projects they deem necessary (hopefully, that is not a large portion of other people’s workload), but that doesn’t mean that they are only doing it to maintain their position of authority. I think if an executive felt he/she had something to contribute to a project, then, in the best interest of the company, they should probably say something. But if they felt like the situation would be fine without them, then they should back off. Now, for whether they “have a right to”, of course they do. They’re the boss. But like I said in regard to the first question, that doesn’t mean that just because someone is exercising their authority that they’re on a power trip. They might be privy to more information than their subordinates. Maybe they aren’t and they just think they are correct. A mature employee won’t automatically assume that just because his/her superior pulls rank that they are doing it out of their own insecurity. That’s what teenagers do. (“My math teacher gave me a D, he must be on a power trip!”) Mature people know that organizations need order to run effectively. In the case of Ms. Parks, she said she hired good people. Hopefully, by good she was implying that they are mature workers.Legitimate Power is defined as, “the power a person receives as a result of his or her position in the formal hierarchy of an organization” (Robbins, pg. 415). As the owner and CEO of Sparks, Ms. Parks has the right to wield power in her company. If she is secure as a person, she shouldn’t have to go spell-checking every sticky note just to make herself feel important. But, like I mentioned about the way Duff Goldman manages his employees, that doesn’t mean that if she exercises her rightful authority, that she is doing that. It is her company, and if she wants to be in charge of every little detail, she can. Now, it would probably serve her better to delegate like I discussed earlier. But she should still be “in the loop” about important decisions. She shouldn’t feel like she should have to tiptoe around her temperamental artist employees lest they blow a gasket. But like I said in question 2, she could smooth things over a bit by employing some tactics. As long as she was being honest, utilizing certain forms of impression management (“the process by which individuals attempt to control the impression others form of them” (Robbins, pg, 431), might prove helpful to her. For instance, she could use what the text calls “flattery” (“complimenting others about their virtues in an effort to make oneself appear perceptive and likeable” (Robbins, pg. 432) by saying, “Jonie, I love the banner you designed for The Randall Company’s trade show booth! It’s not too flashy, but it still draws attention. But I think if you spelled out the company’s name alongside their logo, it would help them instill better brand recognition.” If she was being honest about liking Jonie’s work, then that would be an ethical and likely effective way to say what she needed to say, all while still not stepping on Jonie’s toes.
What are some tasks in an organization that a top executive should never delegate to others?
I believe it would probably vary on a case by case basis, but in general, executives are primarily there for final decisions. That is their legitimate power, and it usually is done using their expert power (“influence based on special skills or knowledge” (Robbins, pg. 415)). Ms. Parks shouldn’t go up to her newest intern, or even her closest subordinate, and ask him/her to “just make the decision for me” because I believe that would portray a poor image of her decision making skills, and therefore, her leadership “the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or set of goals” (Robbins, pg. 369). I do think it would sometimes be wise to get certain people’s opinions on the matter, if she felt she could benefit from them. But the final decision should be made by her. After all, she is the one who will be held responsible for the outcome – good or bad.
I also believe it is in poor taste to delegate personal responsibilities to subordinates. It is part of many people’s job descriptions to get coffee for their bosses. But anything more than that is getting a little “iffy” in my book. If it isn’t related to the job, and the executive doesn’t have a personal assistant entirely there to just make the executive’s life easier, then asking someone (like a secretary or really any other co-worker) to go get his tux cleaned because he is going to an event with his wife that night, is probably inappropriate. (If it was a work-related event, then that would be different.) But there are many cases, where executives, as well as other managers, have given their employees tasks that didn’t really have anything to do with work. I think that’s not just an abuse of power (though not as extreme, that is still the same category (an abuse of power (Robbins, pg. 424)) as is sexual harassment which is “any unwanted activity of a sexual nature that affects an individual’s employment and creates a hostile work environment” (Robbins, pg 421))), but a waste of company resources. To me, that’s just definitely something I would want to avoid.