members. The chain of command begins with the
commanding officer (CO) and flows down to the
seaman recruit. All members use the chain of
command when they communicate about orders,
responsibilities, reports, and requests from higher
to lower authority or lower to higher authority.
Members also use the chain of command when
they communicate with others who have the same
level of authority, such as a counterpart in another
UNITY OF COMMAND. Unity of command
is the order of control of an organization. It gives
one person control over one segment of the
organization. It ensures that a person reports
directly to and receives orders from only one
individual. The person in control issues all orders
and receives all reports from his or her segment
of the organization. To ensure all personnel know
whom they direct and to whom they report,
commands should have clearly set lines of
Use of the chain of command and an
organizational chart will help you maintain unity
of command. Be sure you clarify your position
both to your superiors and subordinates.
SPAN OF CONTROL. Span of control
refers to the ideal number of people one person
can effectively supervise. The ideal number is
based on the scope of the assigned functional
responsibilities and the time available to the
supervisor. Normally a supervisor is responsible
for at least three but not more than seven people.
SPECIALIZATION. Specialization refers
to the division of work. The organizational chart
normally shows the division of work. Work
centers are highly specialized by ratings. Divisions
usually contain personnel in similar ratings, and
departments contain personnel in ratings that
perform similar tasks.
Delegation of Authority
The American citizens delegate authority to
the President, who, in turn, delegates authority
down the chain of command to you. You delegate
authority to the lowest level competent to handle
the specific responsibility. Although you may
delegate authority for a task, you have the final
responsibility for the completion of that task.
When you delegate authority to your subor-
dinates, let them make their own decisions about
how to handle problems that arise. If they make
wrong decisions, they will learn from their
mistakes. However, encourage and train your
subordinates to come to you if they need help in
making a decision. Since you are training your
subordinates to fill a higher position of authority,
help them, but do not do the delegated work
WHY YOU SHOULD DELEGATE.
Delegating allows you to accomplish more than
if you try to complete every task yourself. It allows
you to focus your attention where it is most
needed and to train and develop subordinates.
Delegation also allows you to make good
decisions outside your area of expertise. For
example, because of specialization, you may not
have the knowledge level required to make the
correct decision about how to complete a task.
In that case, you would be wise to delegate the
task and have the subordinate report back to you
with alternative courses of action. You would then
review the alternatives and make your decision
based on the information presented.
FAILURE TO DELEGATE. Many super-
visors fail to delegate, or they delegate poorly.
Some people refuse to delegate because they feel
more powerful when they make all the decisions.
Others avoid delegating because they think subor-
dinates might exercise poor judgement. Some
supervisors have a fear of letting subordinates
make decisions they will be responsible for. Some
supervisors are afraid the subordinate will be more
effective and thus threaten their position. Still
other supervisors do not believe subordinates want
the opportunity to have more authority and
Make sure you train your subordinates
through delegation of authority. Both you and
your subordinates will be happier and have more
SUBORDINATES ROLE IN DELEGA-
TION. When you delegate the authority to
complete a task, your subordinates role is to
accept that authority. Along with that authority,
they must accept the additional responsibility and
accountability that go with it.
Subordinates sometimes are unwilling to
accept authority for the following reasons:
They dont want to risk making a decision.
They have a fear of being criticized.