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A manager is a person who supervises one or more subordinates (Bailey et al., 1991, p. 14) by using the management functions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Managers can make a group of individuals more efficient to achieve (Reid) an organization’s goals. In addition to the functions, managers have roles to play in an organization and skills which make easier for them to do so.
The management functions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling is a way for managers to mold individuals into ideal employees. With planning, managers can define the goals of the organization, and then establish an approach to achieve it (Gibson et al., 1997, p. 16) by developing a plan. Inputs from subordinates concerning about the plan are very much encouraged; as they’re the ones that make a plan work and by asking for their thoughts, subordinates would feel valued.
After a plan is designed, organizing it will be the next step. Everything should be on stand by and everyone should understand the significance of their role (Gibson et al., 1997, p. 16). Next comes leading, where managers are seen motivating the employees and resolving conflicts. When the plan is being implemented, managers can control activities to ensure everything goes accordingly. A back-up plan should be developed in case of a crisis (Reid). Being aware of all these functions, managers can effectively assist an organization to attain its goals.
In Henry Mintzberg’s study, he concluded that a manager’s roles falls into three categories; interpersonal, informational and decisional roles (Robbins & Coulter 2002, p. 9). In the category of interpersonal roles, a manager is a figurehead, a leader and a liaison of which he is a person who to gets closer to other individuals in the organization by developing a more personal connection with them. To accomplish this, managers should recognize that individuals have life to lead outside their office. Within the informational roles category, managers are the organization’s monitor, disseminator and spokesperson. Information is used here as an advantage for subordinates; managers facilitate by seeking receiving and transmitting information to them. In the decisional category, managers are seen as an entrepreneur, disturbance handler and resource allocator. Managers make important decisions that can influence individuals’ work environment. By assuming these roles, an effective manager can be born in oneself.
An effective manager needs certain skills as well. Skill is an ability to transform knowledge into act that ends in a desired performance (Bailey et al, 1991, p. 22). The vital managerial skills are sorted out into three categories; technical, conceptual and human skills (Robbins & Coulter 2002, p. 11). A technical skill is a specialized knowledge, which can be learned through experience or basis education. Conceptual skills are the potential to analyze, identify and correct problems. Human skills are the capability to work well with others by using motivation and understanding human behaviors.
Organizational Behaviour is a knowledge which helps managers who deals closely with human resources to understand their subordinates as an individual, a group or as a whole organization (Robbins, S. P. et al., 1998, p. 10). Organizational Behaviour offers several concepts in helping managers to understand individuals better. The concepts are globalization, workforce diversity, improving quality and productivity, empowerment, improving people skill, ‘temporariness’, simulating innovation and changes, balancing family with work and ethics (Robbins, S. P. et al., 1998, pp. 13-18).
Globalization is interdependency of transportation, distribution, communication and economic networks across global boundaries (Gibson, Ivancevich & Donnelly 1997, p. 54). This influences a manager’s people skills by two ways; he’ll likely be transferred to a foreign country or having to deal with individuals from difference countries (Robbins, S. P. et al., 1998, p. 17). To adapt, managers should think globally and being aware of the process of globalization. Managers should sensitise themselves while dealing with a global organization (Gibson, Ivancevich & Donnelly 1997, pp. 57-58). A clear code of conduct for the workplace can be developed so that employees have respect for difference cultures. To benefit from globalization, managers should equip employees with information about cultures in a country that they wish to penetrate its market (Gibson, Ivancevich & Donnelly 1997, p. 58).
Procter & Gamble’s introduction of liquid detergent failed in Europe because European washing machines weren’t equipped for it so modifications had to be made to their product (Gibson, Ivancevich & Donnelly 1997, p. 56). This is an example in which Procter & Gamble had to suffer the loss of profits because they were ignorant in finding out about the pros and cons of launching their product. Managers will have to give pleasure to local as well as international needs so that global success can be attained. A diverse workforce will help managers to appreciate the intricacy of globalization.
Workforce diversity occurs when an organization becomes more distinct in terms of gender, race, ethnicity and minority (Robbins & Coulter 2002, p. 41). Managers will have to mingle with the diverse workforce. Cultural awareness training for the current workforce (http://www.pwcglobal.com/us/eng/careers/diversity/index.html, 2001) can help employees and managers to learn about each other’s background. At PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Diversity and Workforce Champions are appointed in each department to find solutions concerning diversity problems; in hope of enhancing work performance. Jim Schiro, the CEO there, said that;
“When you make a genuine commitment to diversity, you bring a greater diversity of ideas, approaches, experiences and abilities that can be applied to client problems. After all, six people with different perspective have a better shot at solving complex problems than sixty people who all think alike.” (http://www.pwcglobal.com/us/eng/careers/diversity/index.html, 2001)
From the statement above, it shows that a diverse workforce is well appreciated because it can improve an organization’s quality and productivity.
To improve quality and productivity, this is where Total Quality Management (TQM) comes in. TQM is a philosophy of management that is driven by constant attainment of customer satisfaction through continuous improvement of organization (Robbins & Coulter 2002, p. 46). Managers can use the approach of reengineering (Gibson, Ivancevich & Donnelly 1997, pp. 349-50) which is to reconsider how work would be done if it was from scratch. This can be done if a manager’s conceptual skills are used. Managers will have to come out with an arrangement that can improve organization’s productivity and quality so that customer satisfaction could be maximised.
The organization should be completely change for the better; not only the final product but also the small things like how quickly is the employees’ response to complaints, how polite are they and so on. Citigroup’s employees are promoted based on their work performance (http://www.citigroup.com/citigroup/corporate/values/index.htm, 2003). At Hewlett-Packard Corporation, customers’ respect and loyalty is earned by providing high-quality services (http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/corpobj.html, 2001). This can be done by putting employees in direct contact with customers. By doing so, employees can personally identify customer needs, so better choices can be made to satisfy the customers. Managers can empower employees to achieve customers’ approval.
Empowerment means putting employees in charge of what they’re doing. It eases employees because when there’s no managers breathing down their necks during their work. At Nokia, employees are rewarded for the overall success based on their performance so it generates an environment for employees to optimize to their full potential; which managers can provide by giving employees all the information they need to succeed (http://www.nokia.com/nokia/0,8764,5452,00.html, 2003).
Motivation is the best means for managers. In the Lesson of the Red Horse, it stated that employees tend to work more competent when employees are able to think on their own (Reid). Managers should treat employees as individuals and show that their contribution to the organization count. Meetings across departments; as a whole should be held regularly to help employees recognize the organization’s objectives better. In those meetings, ‘brainstorming’ (Robbins, S. P. et al., 1998, p. 741) can be done so new ideas from employees can be considered. Susan M. Heathfield wrote that:
“…I attended a meeting led by a young manager. I watched … as she provided [information] and led a discussion. The most striking feature of the interaction was that she talked to the group as if they were all colleagues working on the same goal.” (Heathfield, 2003)
This exhibits that a manager isn’t more or less important than other individuals in the organization. Organization’s goals can be achieved when its managers’ people skill enhances. Employees should have a sense of importance and thrill, exhibit openness, insight and originality, and flourish on change, challenge and competition. A manager can make an employee have that sense by making them know that mistakes are tolerable as long as it’s being dealt with as soon as possible. Citigroup encourages an ‘open-door’ management style where doors in the office aren’t close at any given time to make the working environment more laid-back and giving the employees an opportunity to converse as well as interaction with their co-workers and managers alike without fear of rejection (http://www.citigroup.com/citigroup/corporate/values/data/index.htm, 2003).
Communication is the key to bring individuals closer. At Nokia, a culture of internal and external communication is valued. Its range of communication channels that helps employees to use corporate information that they receive and by doing so knowledge is pooled and a sense of openness in Nokia is supreme (http://www.nokia.com/nokia/0,8764,321,00.html, 2003).
Managers can take cue from people at Nokia as there is a Nokia People magazine which is published in 4 languages, a Nokia News Service which offers daily organizational news online, and an Intranet that contains Nokia’s company information. The reason why Nokia was focused is because of their commitment in bringing the Nokia employees throughout worldwide closer to one another (http://www.nokia.com/nokia/0,8764,5450,00.html, 2003). Managers should familiarize themselves with employees to can create a sense of family bond in the workplace. At HalfPrice books, its founder made the working environment enjoyable by encouraging a sense of play at work and enlivening employees so that they feel they’re a part of something brilliant (Heathfield, 2003).
Managers have to simulate employee’s creativity and tolerance for change. The business world today is a global one with the introduction of the Internet. It offers plenty of opportunities for organizations to discover in. Hallmark, a greeting card company recognised this and developed their own website. Managers can nurture innovation by making information accessible to its employees and selecting creative people who are trained to develop first-class products (Robbins, S. P. et al., 1998, p. 18). Even if the company is the first to develop something new, it’s time to move on to the next best thing when their competitors reached the same product level. At Citigroup, management are willingly to invest in infrastructure and focus more on technological innovation because they want employees to give the very best service to their customers (http://www.citigroup.com/citigroup/about/index.htm, 2003).
A change in an organization is inevitable therefore managers and employees face the concept of ‘temporariness’ (Robbins, S. P. et al., 1998, p. 18). They have to learn flexibility, spontaneity and unpredictability in the workforce today, by constantly updating themselves to better perform. Employees tend to defy changes because fear of getting fired, getting a lower pay or just fear of the unknown (Robbins & Coulter 2001, pp. 345-47). Resistance to changes can be avoided if the changes are planned well and there is clear communication between management and employees. Explaining the need for changes to employees and getting their views can diminish the resistance. Companies like Ford or JVC had to deal with changes when computerised assembly lines were introduced. All these changes happened due to new innovations being made everyday.
Change creates stress for employees. Managers have to realise that employees have another part of life outside the workplace (Robbins & Coulter 2001, p. 351). Balancing work and family add more stress to employees that it disturbs their working potential. Work and family relates to one another.
Organizations realized family concerns jeopardize business results. Managers should be aware of this as employees are afraid to voice out their concerns in fear of appearing less dedicated to their jobs. At Motorola, a work-life vision statement is made and a “Special Delivery” program gives expectant parents a 24-hours nurse hotline in hope of comforting and calming employees (Hammonds 1997). Satisfying employees’ personal needs can encourage more effective workers with less constant worry. Companies that recognise the need to adapt work to peoples’ life will win employees’ loyalty which gains them an edge in the business.
Managers might find themselves dealing with ethical dilemma where they’re required to define right or wrong conducts. Managers need to create an ethically healthy working climate at the workplace for employees. Levis Strauss became the first global company to establish a broad ethical code of conduct in 1991 (http://www.levistrauss.com/responsibility, 2003). Values of the organization can be seen through its employees.
For example, Malcolm Walker who heads a retail food chain called Iceland is also a member of an environmental awareness group called Greenpeace (Robbins & Coulter 2001, p. 130). His company showed ethical behaviour when they decided to sell products which are free of chemicals that can harm Earth. Managers should hire ethical individuals, establishing a code of ethics at workplace (Robbins & Coulter 2001, p. 131) and of course, be a good role model by making the right choices in managing the organization. Managers can either make or break an organization as they can influence and control the employees into doing anything they want.
Managing individuals isn’t easy; however, it can be done effectively with the aid of organizational behaviour concepts and knowledge. It is something that a manager can improve on with practice and experience throughout their working profession.
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