The mangers most basic responsibility is to focus people toward performance of work activities to achieve desired outcomes.
A manager is someone who works with and through other people by co-ordinating their work activities to accomplish organisational goals. (Robbins, Stagg, Coulter, 2003, p.10) This definition states, the fundamental responsibility of a manager, is to accomplish the organisations objectives by ‘getting things done through people’. There are however several ways of conceiving managerial responsibilities, as a ‘manager’ can be viewed from many different positions. Kontz (1999:179) argue that management is the process of setting and achieving goals through the execution of four basic management functions that utilize an organisation’s resources.
These functions are planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. Goshal and Bartel (1995:89) however argues that the responsibility of manager cannot be clearly defined as planning, organizing controlling etc, and are better described by looking at the managers responsibility in their working environment. According to Goshal and Bartel (1999:183), the responsibility of managers varies according to their level of status within the organisation and the skills required in performing managerial duties change accordingly. I will discuss that managerial work can be classified into both organizational levels, basic skills and the four management functions that lead to the fundamental responsibility of a manager, – to effectively accomplish organisational goals by focusing people toward performance of work activities. cofa far sefafaw orfa
Wood (1998:402) argue that the most important asset in effectively achieving desired oraganisational outcomes is people. It is argued that people are flexible, versatile, intelligent, durable and appreciate in value to the organisation through learning experiences. According to Wood, (1998: 397) the best way people can be used in an organisation, is through the decision making process directly related to management functions, – planning, organising, directing and controlling. It is a managers resposibility to understand the significant effect each sub-ordinates commitment has to these functions, and actively carry out the functions of management in a way that best achieves this.
Planning involves defining organisational goals and proposing ways to reach them. Managers establish an overall direction for the organisations future, identify and commit the resources required, and focus people towards their working activies to reach organisational objectives. After managers have prepared plans, they must translate these abstract ideas into reality.
Organising is the process of creating a structure of relationships that will enable employees to carry out management’s plans and meet organisational goals. By organising effectively, managers can better coordinate human, material, and information resources. The manager has to make sure each sub-ordinate knows their individual goal and how they are going to achieve it. A successful plan may only be reached if management can utilize the organisations resources efficiently and effectively. Foucault
After management has made plans, created a structure, and hired the right personnel, someone must direct the organization. Directing involves communicating and motivating others to perform the tasks necessary to achieve the organization’s goals. Interraction between the manager and sub-ordinate is the key for creating a focused working environment, and is critical in achieving a desired outcome. Directing provides leadership that from a manager/employee working relationship perspective is the raising of an employees performance to a higher standard, – beyond its normal limitations. The process of managerial leadership can be thought of as influencing others to direct their efforts toward the pursuit of specific goals.
Knouse, Stephen, and Giacalone, (1992:375) back up this statement by claiming that managers who lead effectively establish three initiaitves from employees that is crucial in improving their work activities and decision making capabilities. Initially they gain the trust of sub-ordinates, – allowing people more freedom to act on instinct and make decisions. Second, leaders must clarify the direction in which people should be headed to satisfy organisational outcomes, through clear, consistent communication. This effectively helps employees feel confident in their decision making abilities. Finally it states that effective leaders encourage others to take risks, further enabling peoples ability to think, create and make decisions.
Control is verifying the actions of the organisation’s subordinates in accordance with the plans, instructions, and the established standards of performance. A manager should attempt to prevent problems, or to try to determine and solve them as soon as possible, if they happen to occur. Through constant control of focusing people towards work activities, the manager keeps the organisation working effectively.cofe fe
As it can be seen, managers are required to be able to plan, organise, direct, and control. Goshal and Bartel (1995: 91) argue however that deviding a managers responsibility into tidy, discrete functions such as planning and organising is not relevant in todays working environment. It is argued that management is ‘messy and continuous’, particularly planning which is conceived as an ongoing process, rather than a separate bounded activity. According to Goshal and Bartel, the nature of manegerial work is better classified in terms of organisationl levels and basic skills.
Robert L Katz identified three types of skills, – technical, human and conceptual which he writes are required for all levels of management. Robbins, Stagg, Coulter, 2003, p.13-14) Technical skills are those needed to perform the work in a specialised area. These skills involve the knowledge and ability to apply techniques, procedures, methods, and tools in a specific field. Interpersonal skills, include the ability to work with, understand, lead, and motivate others, and effective managers require interpersonal skills to get ‘the best out of their people’.
Conceptual skills include the ability to plan, coordinate, and integrate all of the organization’s interests and activities. Also involved is the ability to understand how a change in a given part of the organization or its environment, can positively or negatively affect the focus of employees in their work activities which interrelates with the organisation desired outcomes. Katz found the relative importance of these skills varied according to the managers level within the organisation.
Organisations can be viewed as having three basic levels of management with operational employees not requiring any manegerial duties. The manegerial jobs at the first level are known as first level management and are charged with overseeing operative employees. Technical skills are important at such lower organisational levels in which the manager needs to know the mechanics of how the work is done. Ghoshal, and Bartlett (1995:92) argue that first line supervisors (first level managers) are responsible and accountable for directing the workforce and for meeting production and service scheduals and quality standards. The responsibilty of first line managers to ensure employees are focused on work activities is therfor crucial in achieving a desired outcome.
Middle managers are usually responsible for the performance of a particular organisational unit and direct the activities of other managers and sometimes those of operative employees. They implement strategic plans set fourth by top managers by establishing divisional objectives and operational objectives that will guide unit perormance to achieving desired outcomes. Technical and conceptual skills are required for effective middle management, but as is the role of first level management with operative employees, their basic responsibilty is to ensure these first level managers and to a lesser extent, operational employees are aware of what is required in achieving set objectives.
Top managers have the broadest responsibilities and have the authority to develop plans that shape the overall direction of the organisation. Ghoshal and Bartlett (1995:93) argue that the time of a top manager is typically devoted to human relations and conceptual tasks. From a survey of some of America’s most effective corporations Goshal and Bartell (1995:93) found that leading executives of these firms spent approximately 85% of their time interracting with people on the phone or in meetings. It is also argued that of this 85% a large proportion of time is spent updating and ensuring middle managers are informed and focused on the work activities required to ensure the objectives of the organisation are achieved.
In conclusion, managers are very important in a structured organisation. All organisations operate in complex social working environment conditions where managers need to be developed in their interpersonal or people skills if they are going to be effective. Technical and conceptual skills vary in importance according to their managerial heirachy, however the one skill that remains constant at all levels is interpersonal. Goshal and Bartell (1995:93) argue that progressive organisations only look for people who possess a special predefined set of competencies relating to attitude, personality and behaviour for employement in management-leadership positions.
These competencies guarantee that formulating business strategees and organisational goals will be met through the ‘coaching’ and interraction of managers and employees. Managers have the responsibility of planning, organising, directing and controlling the organisations activities that can only be effectively achieved through the use of efficent working employees. The four management functions require creativity, reasoning, and judgement to make decisions and it is the basic responsibility of a manager to direct people towards their specific role or task to ensure organistional goals are achieved. When a person is familiar with the subject and has the required data, they have the confidence to make effective decisions. This is the most basic responsibility of a manager, to focus people towards performance of work activites to ensure a desired outcome is achieved.
Ghoshal, S. and Bartlett, C. A. (1995), “Changing the Role of Top Management: Beyond Structure to Process”, Harvard Business Review, p 86-94coec ecr
Knouse, Stephen B. and Giacalone, Robert A. (1992), “Management Decision Making in Business: Employee Issues and Concerns.” Journal of Business Ethics. 11 (51) pp.369 381. 6QbDHfKG
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Kontz, H, (1999) ‘The Management Theory jungle’, Journal of the Academy of
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