Whilst hunting for something in the loft, I came across this bit of coursework that I wrote for my final year Business Degree … 25 years ago!

Remembering that this was pre web and social media, looking through it all, I thought it still made for an interesting read.

The comment from my tutor in his feedback was:

“Edges into a first-class mark as a piece of advanced and quite scholarly … journalism?”

He said at the time that it would be something he’d have liked to have published.  25 years on, I can of course now do that, well, at least as a blog post!

I have no idea if they still read the likes of Drucker, Taylor and Mintzberg on business degrees.  I’d guess things have moved on a little since my time.

However, I don’t recall ever covering half the topics I now focus on in the csuite podcast, such as Social Mobility, Gender Equality, Diversity and Mental Health in the workplace, subjects I really hope are now included as part of a management module.

But if you’re interested in a bit of theory (albeit 25 years old), or studying for a business degree and think this might help, or if you’re just intrigued as to why I squeezed in references to God and used Scrooge as a case study, then enjoy!

And if my former coursemates have got their old essays too and want to comment, please feel free – time for a 25 year reunion!

Btw, I have no idea if my uses of Ibid and Supra were ever correct!

 

Introduction

‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ – Genesis I, 1

‘Marley was dead, to begin with.’ – Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’

‘The manager is the dynamic, life-giving element in every business.’ – Peter Drucker, ‘The Practice of Management’[1]

Question: What are the connections between the above three quotations?

Answer:

  1. They are the opening lines to three of the best-selling books world-wide.
  2. In the eyes of most of their readers, the authors are Gods of some sort – The first a religious God, the second a God of literature and the third, a God (or perhaps better known as a Guru) of business and management.

However, if we were to look closer into all three, we may find a third connection.  That of The Manager

All three books have detailed descriptions of managers of some form or another, be they fictional or fact, good or bad.  By studying the latter, along with many of its author’s compatriots in the writing of management and comparing some of the theories to the stories found in the first two books, we may just discover what a manager really is, and what it takes to be a good one.

The following paper gives details of what management theorists have said managers should do and what they actually do.  It will incorporate details of the writer’s own experiences in places of employment and will conclude with a final definition of what the writer believes a manager actually is.

Management: A Brief History

Huczynksi and Buchanan (1985) state that management can be viewed as a function, or set of functions, that must be carried out if an organisation is to operate and survive.[2]  But what are those functions and who are the people to carry them out?

To understand what today’s manager is, we must first look at the development of management theories over the last century.

The first studies of management practices were made around the start of the twentieth century and consisted of two schools of thought, ‘Scientific Management and ‘Classical Management’.

Scientific Management

The key theorist, and perhaps founder of this style of management was Frederick Winslow Taylor.

Taylor believed that the main objective of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer coupled with the maximum prosperity of each employee.[3]  This statement is fine taken at face value.  However, Taylor’s principles for achieving this view came under heavy criticism at the time, and then more so in later years as more people studied the concepts of his and other styles of management.

Taylor’s scientific management principles were:

  • The responsibility of the organisation of the work is shifted from worker to manager – the manager does the thinking and planning; the worker is left with the task of implementation
  • To use scientific methods to determine the most efficient way of doing the work
  • Select the best person for the job
  • Train the worker to increase efficiency
  • Monitor the worker’s performance[4]

It was the second of these principles where Taylor used his time and motion studies that looked into the breaking down of a particular task into specific elements, so that they may be observed and evaluated to improve on that task’s efficiency.  Although Taylor may have succeeded in his main objective, that of finding improved ways of organising production, what he was effectively doing was transforming the people doing the work into impersonalised parts of a machine.

Classical Management

Around the same time as Taylor, Henry Fayol was also studying management practices, but he looked more into the design of the organisation as a whole rather than on the breakdown of specific tasks.  In 1916, Fayol defined five elements of managerial work that have since become the basis for the general perception of what managers do.  He wrote that to manage, is to forecast and plan, to organise, to command, to coordinate and to control.[5]  It is questionable whether the term ‘command’ is the right word to use in modern day management.  Later, we discuss motivation and perhaps the substitution for this word may move us closer to a correct definition.  Criticism to Fayol’s thinking was made by Henry Mintzberg (1973) who said that the five elements of managerial work had little baring on the manager’s actual daily routine.[6]

Fayol believed that a manager obtained the best performance from his workforce leadership qualities, by the knowledge of the business and his workers, and by the ability to instil a sense of mission.[7]  However, the type of organisation that he, and in fact Taylor also, advocated with specialisation of tasks and clearly defined lines of authority, was a ‘bureaucratic’ one.  This type of organisation may work well when there are:

  • Straightforward tasks to perform
  • The environment is stable enough to ensure the end-product will be appropriate
  • The same product is being produced constantly
  • Precision is at a premium
  • The employees are compliant with the rules and regulations

Modern day examples include production plants where the workforce is almost entirely made up of what are literally machines, i.e. robots, and as detailed by Morgan (1993), it is effective in some organisations where the staff consists mainly of part-time or student workers producing a standardised product such as those in a fast-food restaurants serving hamburgers.[8]  However, the ‘dehumanising’ effects to the employees that can be caused by this authoritarian style of management means that in the search for a universal definition of what a manager is, writers such as Taylor and Fayol perhaps only got it part right.  What they were missing in their principles of management was quite a number of other activities that a manager has to carry out, described by other management theorists, to be discussed.

Qualities of a manager

‘And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.’ – Genesis VI, 19

Managers have existed almost since the creation of man, but the study of their behaviour perhaps only began with people such as Taylor and Fayol (above).  For example, if major elements of management are, according to Fayol, organising, planning, commanding, coordinating and controlling, then arguably one of the first and best managers must be Noah heading his own organisation inside his famous ark.  However, as we have mentioned, there are more qualities to being a manager than Fayol listed.  The following section will try and list as many of them as possible, but in no particular order of importance.

Drucker’s View

Drucker said that a manager has two specific tasks:

  1. To create a true whole that is larger than the sum of its parts
  2. To harmonise in every decision and action the requirements of immediate and long-range future.[9]

He used the analogy that a manager is both a composer and a conductor.  The first of the above tasks is like the conductor of a symphony orchestra, through whose effort, vision and leadership individual instrumental parts that are so much noise by themselves become the living whole of music.  The second task points out that, as a conductor interprets the composers score, the manager must be the composer as well.

With Mintzberg’s criticism of Fayol’s elements of managerial work (above), he also says that Drucker’s analogy is impossible too.  This is because from his studies, Mintzberg concluded that the manager’s job is characterised by pressure, interruption, orientation to action, and oral rather than written communication.[10]

I believe another reason why the manager cannot always be the composer is that at times, they may be given a set of objectives by higher authority.

Drucker said that there are five basic operations in the work of a manager, and in the case of my industrial placement at Hewlett Packard, my manager performed them all.  These were:

  1. Setting objectives
  2. Organisation by analysing activities and decisions, dividing the work into manageable activities and then into manageable jobs
  3. Motivating and communicating
  4. Measuring by analysing, appraising and interpreting performance
  5. Developing people

Objective setting

The manager determines what their subordinates’ objectives should be and the goals in each area of the objectives.  They make them effective by communicating them.

Organising by analysing and delegating

Organising by analysing activities and decisions and then dividing the work into manageable jobs involves another important quality needed by a manager, not mentioned by Drucker, but by Geoffrey Vickers (1984), that of judgement.  When applied to business executives, Vickers said that judgement is the power of reaching the ‘right’ decisions when the criteria are very complex, inadequate, doubtful or conflicting as to defeat the ‘ordinary’ man.  Judgements are not the same as decisions but are used to make them, they are ongoing.  Vickers defined three types of judgement:

  1. Reality – which are based on what is actually happening in a situation. These require the manager to detach themself from the situation and display objectivity, balance and boldness
  2. Action – where a commitment is made on the above. The manager needs to have ingenuity and be creative in a versatile way.
  3. Value – is where the value of the judgement or possible course of action is looked at.

Vickers concluded by saying that to make good judgements involves human intellect, sensibility, a good character and willpower.[11]

Motivating

Drucker states that motivating is about making a team out of the people responsible for various jobs (through incentives and rewards for successful work).[12]  However, the extract from my placement journal in the section on appraising below, shows that simple appreciation for good work can act as a motivator too.

Perhaps the major contributor to the study of motivation at work was Frederick Hertzberg (1959).  He separated the elements of work into two factors:

  1. Motivation factors – (meetings people’s unique human needs) – these, he said, led to job-satisfaction through achievement; recognition; the work itself; responsibility and advancement and growth
  2. Hygienic factors – (serving people’s animal needs) – leading to job-dissatisfaction, however not just simple opposites from above. These were such things as working conditions; company policy; relations with supervisors, subordinates and peers.[13]

Hertzberg provided the challenge to managers to look after employees by serving their animal needs and making the most of them by appreciating their inner motivation for self-development.[14]

Motivation Case Study – Scrooge

‘he iced his office in the dog-days and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.’ – Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’

It is a shame that Hertzberg wasn’t around in the days of Scrooge, the manager in Dickens’ novel, ‘A Christmas Carol’, based around the time of its writing, 1843.  Scrooge is perhaps the biggest demotivator of all time and although he is a fictional character, he is an excellent manager to base a simple case study on regarding bad-management and demotivation.

Firstly, Scrooge did nothing to improve the hygiene factors in his office as the quote above shows.  His clerk, Bob Cratchit, suffered from job-dissatisfaction due to working in a cold and depressing office.  Dickens tells us that ‘Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it’.  He also found it difficult to give benefits to his clerk, for example, when discussing Christmas Day, Scrooge said to Cratchit, “You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?”.

When Scrooge was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, he was taken back in time to the place where he served his own apprenticeship.  It was seven o’clock on Christmas Eve and Scrooge’s manager, Fezziwig, announced that no one was to do any more work as he had arranged a party for all his employees.  There was music, dancing and plenty of food and drink.

“A small matter,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.”

“Small!” echoed Scrooge.

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done so, said,

“Why! Is it not! He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”

“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count them up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.” – Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’

The small benefit of the party made the employees feel appreciated by their manager, Fezziwig, and hence motivated them.  This was a very different approach to Scrooge’s managerial style on Christmas Eve, who felt hard done by to allow his clerk the following day off.

What is also interesting from the above extract is Scrooge’s quote about “the power to render us happy or unhappy”.  Again, this shows the importance of the manager’s role in motivating their staff and that, in general, people are not just motivated by extra financial rewards.  Fezziwig’s small party gave a lot of happiness to his staff and as Scrooge said himself, was “quite as great as if it cost a small fortune”.

Communicating

Steward (1986) says that communication, if it’s to be successful in getting people both to understand and to do what is wanted, is a cooperative or two-way process.  Its effectiveness depends on as much, if not more, on the attitude of the recipient as on the verbal skill of the manager, on the former’s ability and willingness to listen as well as on the latter’s clarity and sensitivity.[15]  It is the manager’s job, as Bernard (1938) says, to establish and maintain that system of communication – but not to manage it.  He compared it to the nervous system in the body, with the manager being the brain – the brain maintains the bodily system by directing those actions which are necessary, more effectively to adjust to the environment, but it can hardly be said to manage the body, a large part of whose functions are independent of it and upon which it in turn depends.  He said that there are two types of communication, formal and informal.

The formal communication relates to the lines of authority in the organisation, where the selection of the ‘right’ persons for particular positions in the lines are critical.  These people, according to Bernard, must have loyalty, which he said cannot be bought (by material or other incentives), the love of prestige – [this being in line with Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’, in which, after the physiological needs, safety and belongingness, humans strive for esteem and self-actualisation][16] – interest in the work and pride in the organisation.  Bernard pointed out that if the organisation is not successful, the conclusion is that its management is wrong (something, the England Football Team Manager, Graham Taylor, has recently discovered!), i.e., the scheme of communication or the associated personnel, or both, that is the executive department directly related, are at fault.  It is fair to say that this is not always true, but more often is the case.

Informal communication, according to Bernard, reduces the necessity for formal decisions, and is often in operation but not always apparent.  He said that the general method of maintaining an informal executive organisation is to select and promote executives with a general condition of compatibility – so that they ‘fit in’ – this can distinguish on education, experience, age, sex, race, nationality, faith, politics, etc.  Barnard says that excessive compatibility or harmony is deleterious, resulting in ‘single track minds’ and excessively crystallised attitudes – however, he continues that it is almost impossible to secure effective and efficient cooperation without informal communication.[17]  Whilst accepting this may still occur, it is important to bear in mind that this was written in 1938 when it was highly unlikely that there were many female executives or those from ethnic minorities.  I therefore do not believe that Bernard’s last view is still correct today.

An excellent form of communication, in theory, is that of ‘Management by Wandering Around’, which was the informal practice meant to be used by managers at my placement company, Hewlett Packard.  This involves keeping up to date with individuals and activities around the office through informal or structured communication.  However, in my year at the company, its actual existence was noticeable on very few occasions.

Appraising

For a detailed discussion on appraisals, I have included below, an extract from the Reflective Journal that I wrote during my industry placement year at Hewlett Packard.  The section refers to the first Performance Evaluation that I received, which took place six months into my job.

“Companies encourage their managers to use the appraisal system for a number of reasons:

  1. To identify an individual’s current job performance
  2. To identify employee strengths and weaknesses
  3. To enable employees to improve their performance
  4. To motivate individuals
  5. To provide a basis for rewarding employees in relations to their contribution to the organisations goals
  6. To identify training and development needs
  7. To identify potential performance[18]

I was a little apprehensive at the start of my appraisal but relaxed quickly once John [my manager] and I started talking.  John gave me top marks for all but one of the sections and was impressed with my performance to date.  He said that I was the ‘pick of the Industrial Trainees and was mature and dependable.  He gave me a grade 4 out of 5 as I had only been at the company for six months but said that there was no reason why I should not have a grade 5 in June.

HP uses a ‘formal’ and ‘open’ approach to the Performance Evaluation, meaning it is systematic and planned out and allows feedback to and from the appraisee, i.e., myself.  I was impressed with the whole process, especially in that my Department Manager took time to read my comments in detail.

The method John used during the appraisal was in line with that identified by Maier (1958), i.e., the ‘Problem-Solving’ approach in which the manager effectively puts aside the role of judge in order to join the subordinate in mutual reflection on progress and mutual discussion about required action.  This style was used as opposed to two other approaches that Maier identified – ‘Tell and Sell’ – where the manager tells the subordinate how they are doing and endeavours to persuade them to accept what has been decided for them in terms of improvement, and ‘Tell and Listen’ – where the manager tells how the subordinate is doing but then sits back and listens to the individual’s point of view both about the appraisal and any follow-up action required.  It is the first approach, i.e., ‘Problem Solving’, or ‘Sharing’, which is considered the best basis for appraisals.[19]

There are differing opinions on the value of appraisals.  Drucker is enthusiastic and said, “To appraise a subordinate and his performance is part of the managers job.  Indeed, unless he does the appraising himself he cannot adequately discharge his responsibilities for assisting and teaching his subordinates”.[20]  Whereas McGregor (1960) was critical of the formal appraisal, saying that “appraisal programmes are designed not only to provide more systematic control of the behaviour of subordinates but also to control the behaviour of superiors”.[21]  McGregor saw appraisals as promoting his case of Theory X, i.e., a management style that assumes that people are unreliable, unable to take responsibility and therefore require close supervision and control.[22]

I disagree with McGregor’s view because, at least in my personal case, I found the appraisal mutually beneficial to my manager and myself.  I was impressed at how much John remembered from the previous six months and the interest he took in my work.

Gaining appreciation for my effort and input over the first half of this placement has served as a huge motivator for my future work.  This falls directly in line with Hertzberg’s work on job satisfaction.  He showed that factors that led to feelings of job satisfaction were motivational ones such as achievement and recognition.[23]  After experiencing my first ever work appraisal, I tend to agree with this viewpoint.”  – RWG 11/1/93

Developing People

The last of Drucker’s basic operations in the work of a manager is developing people, including themselves.  Many of today’s companies insist that this is part of their managers’ roles.  For example, at Procter & Gamble, every manager is assessed on the development of their subordinate and the acquisition by these subordinates of the skills they need to further their careers.[24]

Leadership

Another important skill required by a manager that was highlighted in more detail by other management theorists, other than Drucker, is leadership.

As mentioned, Fayol said that leadership qualities helped managers obtain the best performance of their workforce.  Warren Bennis (1985) discussed four key abilities to be shown by leaders:

  1. Believing in a vision and adopting it as their own
  2. Communicating that vision and translating it into successful results for the organisation
  3. Trust and consistency
  4. Self-management – persistence, self-knowledge, willingness to take risks, commitment and change, the willingness to go on learning even from failure.[25]

In his writings, Bennis seems to describe leaders and managers as being separate entities, but I believe a manager cannot be a good one unless, as Fayol suggested, they are a good leader.  Leaders are inspirational figures and a manager who inspires their subordinates will, from my personal work experience, have harder working employees.

John Adair has also written a great deal on leadership and he also says that there is a difference between leaders and managers.  He said that leadership is about a sense of direction, knowing what the next step is, whereas managing is about handling something well.  He also said that unlike managers, leaders are not necessarily good at administration or managing resources.[26]  One of Adair’s theories relates to his ‘Action Centred Leadership Model’ where a leader must succeed in three aspects of working in a group or team.  He said a group shares three areas of common needs:

  1. To accomplish a task
  2. To be maintained as a cohesive social unit or team
  3. The sum of the group’s individual needs

Adair said that failure of any one of the above affects the other two.[27]

A third writer who said that there are distinct differences between managers and leaders was Abraham Zaleznik.[28]  Clutterbuck and Crainer summarise Zaleznik’s findings very well as Zaleznik said leaders:

  • Are active rather than reactive, shaping ideas rather than responding to them
  • Adopt a personal and active attitude towards goals
  • Develop fresh approaches to long-standing problems and open issues for new options
  • Are more interested in what events and decisions mean to people than their own role in getting things accomplished
  • Are often viewed with strong emotions by others
  • Tend to feel somewhat apart from their environment and other people

However, managers:

  • Focus on the decision-making process rather than ultimate events
  • Act to limit choices
  • Avoid solutions that might cause confrontation
  • Focus subordinates’ attention on procedures rather than on the substance of decisions
  • Communicate in signals rather than clearly stated messages
  • Play for time to take the sting out of win-lose situations
  • Need to feel that they belong to a team, fulfilling a clear and useful role within the organisation.[29]

Although it may be true that leaders do not always manage, a good manager must, in my opinion, be a good leader.  Even Drucker, in a recent interview, now discusses the importance of leadership in management.  He said that the challenge for today’s managers is to look to the future.  He commented on the Bible, mentioning Moses, one of the greatest leaders of the far past, only looking forward from the Red Sea after leaving Egypt, and never looking back.  Drucker says that this is how managers must act today.[30]

Handy’s view

Charles Handy (1993) used the analogy of a manager being like a General Practitioner, where they are the first recipient of problems.  Handy said the manager must:

  1. Identify the symptoms (problems such as low morale, faulty shipments) in any situation
  2. Diagnose the disease or cause of the trouble (understanding the organisational situation)
  3. Decide how it might be dealt with – strategy for health
  4. Start the treatment.

The third point is where Handy said that the manager’s main skills are used, and that the best checklist to use for building the strategy would be Peters & Waterman’s ‘Seven S Framework’ (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Seven S Framework 

Seven S Framework

The cold triangle (Hard S’s) is easier to change but the change can be illusory if the warm square (Soft S’s) remains unaffected because each of the seven variables are interconnected.  Handy therefore said that, in the short term, the manager will be confined to the Hard S’s, but the longer-term factors must not be ignored.  In considering ‘treatment’, the manager will also reflect upon the feasibility of its implementation.[31]

But What Do Managers Do?

Do managers simply perform the tasks outlined by Fayol, i.e. ‘organise, plan, command, coordinate and control’?  According to writers such as Mintzberg (1973) and Steward (1975), managers’ jobs are far more complicated involving many more tasks than those five classical principles.

Mintzberg’s View

Mintzberg based his conclusions on his own findings from studying a range of chief executives and managers in various kinds of work (foremen, factory supervisors, etc.) and from different countries (USA, Canada, Sweden and UK).  He challenged certain myths relating to the work managers perform, and gave what he believed to be the true situations, as follows:

  • The manager is not a reflective and systematic planner but instead works at an unrelenting pace, with a variety and discontinuity of brief activities. Managers are strongly orientated to action and are real time responders to stimuli.
  • Managers do have a number of real and regular duties to perform, such as, ritual and ceremony, and negotiations. For example, field sales managers and chief executives had to make time to see certain important customers if they expected to keep those customers. Managers also can gain access to ‘soft-information’ (gossip, word-of-mouth) external to the company only because of their status, which they can pass on to their subordinates.
  • Managers strongly favour oral media (telephone, meetings) over formal Management Information Systems. This is an important point because oral information, if it is not written down, only becomes stored in the manager’s brain, which then becomes the strategic databank of the organisation.  It also means that mangers sometimes may find that delegating small tasks can become difficult if a lot of explaining is needed because by the time they have done the explaining, they could have completed the task themselves.
  • Management is an art, rather than a science and it requires a continuous process of self-education and assessment. Science involves analytics determined procedures or programmes, but the managers programmes remain locked deep inside their own brains.[32]

Mintzberg’s Roles of a Manager

Mintzberg said that a manager’s formal authority, which provides status, leads to various roles for them to perform (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Mintzberg’s roles of a manager

Mintzberg's Roles

Although managers do not give equal attention to all the ten roles, they are an integrated whole, i.e., no role can be ignored, and the job be left intact.[33]

Criticism to Mintzberg

Mintzberg’s method of research was criticised by Fox (1991) who said that as Mintzberg was an ‘observer’, he only saw what was happening whilst he was observing (which was usually one week per manager).  Tasks performed only once or twice per year, such as setting objectives for the organisation, were not recorded.  Therefore, the weakness in Mintzberg’s method would be the lack of dealing with periodic tasks.[34]

Stewart’s Roles of a Manager

Rosemary Stewart’s definition of a manager’s job is simply ‘deciding what should be done and then getting other people to do it’.  The first task comprises setting objectives, planning (including decision making) and setting up the formal organisation.  The second consists of motivation, communications, control (including measurement) and the development of people.[35]

Steward grouped five types of managers:

  1. Emissaries – much of their time is away from the organisation dealing with and entertaining outsiders
  2. Writers – a large amount of their time is spent in writing, reading, dictating and figure work.
  3. Discussers – spend much of their time with other people, particularly colleagues, and carry out a diverse range of activities.
  4. Trouble shooters – those who cope with crisis and whose work is highly fragmented. More time spent with subordinates than with peers.
  5. Committeemen – most of their time is spent in meetings. Their contacts are not outside the organisation.[36]

However, she said that the manager’s job varies so much that the statement ‘a good manager can manage anything’ is not true.  There are too many important differences in their jobs.  Although we can make generalisations, we need to understand those differences too.[37]

Criticism to Stewart

As he did with Mintzberg, Fox pointed out a weakness with Stewart’s research methods.  He said that as a ‘diarist’, Stewart told managers which tasks to diarise while researching them and that those tasks that fall outside such guidelines were ignored by managers completing the diaries.[38]

What Should Managers Do?

As well as pointing out what activities and roles managers actually do, leading management gurus have discussed what they believe managers should be doing as well to be successful.  Three key issues apparent from studying these writers’ views are: Information, Attention and Opportunism.

Peters (1987) within his 45 precepts for managers of all levels, said that they should listen to customers, end users, suppliers and retailers.[39]  Through doing this, they will acquire the information that as Drucker said, is their tool.[40]  Peters said that managers must then find ways of sharing that information with their colleagues.

Secondly, the manager must give serious attention to issues that require it.[41]  Waterman (1989) said that visible management attention, rather than exhortation, gets this done.[42]  Both he and Peters said that the best way of achieving things is to use teams as much as possible and to pour trust into them.

The third key issue, also listed by Waterman, along with attention, is informed opportunism.  The manager, according to Mintzberg, must view obligations as opportunities to turn into advantages, and should also turn the things they wish to do into obligations.  An example of the former is the freeing of time to tour the office, or factory, as in the ‘Management by wandering around’ activities that I mentioned were practiced at Hewlett Packard.

Management Styles

The style that a manager adopts in the management of their subordinates can vary tremendously.  Two good models for comparing management styles are Likert’s (1961) and Tannenbaum & Schmidt’s (1957) (Figure 3).

Figure 3 – Management Styles

Management Styles

To discuss my personal experiences of different styles of management, I am again including an abstract from my Placement Journal of last year.

“John has been an extremely good manager to work for.  He performs all the operations in the work of a manager set out by Drucker (1979) in that he sets objectives, organises by analysing activities and decisions and then dividing the work into manageable activities and then into manageable jobs, motivates and communicates, measures by analysing, appraising and interpreting performance, and develops people.[43]  On the scale outlined in the Diagram [Figure 3, bottom], I would place John right at the democratic end.  After delegating tasks, he is always encouraging feedback from me and willing to hear my point of view.  He appreciates my input and is happy to discuss situations to look at improved methods of completing a task.  He is also open to take questions at any time, not just from me but from all his colleagues, and due to his helpfulness and knowledge, he appears to have gained respect from all around him.  He motivates by encouraging me and taking an interest in my work, yet at the same time not crowding me by allowing me to work on my own, using my own initiative to get jobs done.  John has gained my utmost respect and due to this I feel able to approach him and speak in confidence on any work-related situation …

… Now compare John to one of the managers in the ‘Marketing Communications’ Department whom I have had several dealings with during the year.  Here we find the authoritarian …  This manager has gained no respect from any of the trainees and little from her fellow managers either.  She has lost the respect of her subordinates because she does not respect them.  She finds it hard to accept any new ideas from an Industrial Trainee (IT) or any constructive criticism.  Nor will she allow an IT to ask her to do something.  For example, in my case, she would only accept a particular request from my manager.  In her own words “I cannot believe a student asked me to do this”.  Rather than treat her subordinates as team colleagues, she looks at them as lower level workers …. It is only fair for me to say that this second example is not a true reflection of the vast majority of managers whom I have contact with.  Most in the organisation tend towards the democratic style.

My department manager, Dave Lyon, has another style again.  He is the team leader in my department, yet he has a very quiet approach to his work.  I do not have much contact with Dave nor in fact do any of the ITs.  However, he is always available and approachable if needed.  He lets his team managers get on with their work …

…Moving up the hierarchy – next there is Nick Earl, the Marketing Manager.  Again, I have little contact with him in the work I perform, but he is always prominent in our department, mainly because of the product and market information the we provide.  He again is approachable, and the HP Way is evident once more in that he has no privileges in his seating area within the office … his requests take priority over anything else… and so there are some signs of authority, but this is understandable due to the work he undertakes and the pressures and constraints that he must work to.  Finally, I will look at Bill Russell, Director of Sales and Marketing, UK and John Golding, Managing Director, UK.  I have spoken to Bill once … however, I do notice him occasionally in the building.  John Golding spoke to the staff at one coffee meeting and just before Christmas, but I have never seen him over our side of the building in the whole time I have been at HP.  So, I ask – What happened to the HP Way of ‘Management by wandering around’ … One definitely feels in awe of these two people because of the positions they hold but also due to their scarcity you feel under pressure when in their presence … their style of management is no different than I expected from someone in those positions – i.e. you know who they are and why they are there, but you will hardly ever have anything to do with them in the whole time you are employed at the company.” – RWG 11/3/93

 So, what is a manager?

Based on some of the descriptions given by writers on management, we have seen that managers have existed since biblical times, examples being Noah (organiser) and Moses (leader).  But as with these two people, certain managers may not incorporate all the activities and roles highlighted in this paper in the tasks they perform.  Different managers have different roles to play, and because of this reason, is it really possible for us to give a universal definition of what a manager is?  If we were to create one, based on this paper, the definition would be as follows:

‘Managers are people who identify problems and then think and plan before they forecast and then use their judgement to make decisions that develop their part of an organisation’s strategy.  They organise by coordinating their subordinates and delegating the tasks to achieve that strategy.  They set their subordinates objectives, motivate them and then analyse and evaluate their performance by appraisal.  They gather information and communicate it to their team.  They have numerous brief activities, work at an unrelenting pace, but always find time to seek new opportunities.  They show leadership and develop people through training to gain efficiency.  With a strong business knowledge, they become the figurehead, negotiator, liaison and spokesperson of their team.’

I personally feel that it is incorrect to generalise so far and give such a universal definition because no two managers are the same, period.  I have therefore devised my own much simpler definition, and although Drucker may state that the first responsibility of a manager is upward, to the executives in the hierarchy of an organisation,[44] it is as follows:

‘A manager is that person who is in charge of you.’

How they manage, however, is an entirely different debate.  Whether they incorporate all the activities and roles that make them good at their job does not mean that they can not be called a manager, it just means they may be a bad one.  After all, unlike Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’, it is very doubtful that we are to be visited by a spirit that can take us back in time and show us the ways and means to win friends and influence people.  Managers will have to go through a constant learning process (more often than not through their own mistakes) and look to the future.  Although they may not be totally in line with the first universal definition given above, they may go a long way towards achieving a large percentage of it.  Maybe then, all employees will become as contented as Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, and their children may observe as his, Tiny Tim, did:

‘God bless us, every one!’ – Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’

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References

[1] Drucker, P.F; The Practice of Management; Heinemenn; 1968

[2] Buckanan, D.A, Huczynski, A.A; Organisational Behaviour; Prentice Hall; 1985

[3] Taylor, F.W; Principles of Scientific Management; New York; Harper & Row; 1911

[4] Morgan, G; Images of Organisation; Sage; 1993

[5] Fayol, H; General and Industrial Management; London: Pitman; 1949 translated

[6] Mintzberg, H; The Nature of Managerial Work; New York; Harper & Row; 1973

[7] Kennedy, C; Guide to the Management Gurus; Business Books Limited; 1991

[8] Ibid 4

[9] Ibid 1

[10] Ibid 6

[11] Vickers, G, The Vickers Papers; Paul Chapman Publishing Limited; 1984

[12] Ibid 1

[13] Hertzberg, F / Mausner, B / Snyderman, B; The Motivation to Work; Wiley; 1959

[14] Clutterbuck, D / Crainer, S; The Makers of Management; MacMillan; London; 1990

[15] Stewart, R; The Reality of Management (2nd Ed); Pan Books; 1986

[16] Maslow, A.H; Motivation & Personality; New York; Harper & Row; 1970

[17] Barnard, C; The Functions of an Executive; Harvard University Press; 1938

[18] Cole, G.A; Management, Theory and Practice; DP Publications; 1990

[19] Mair, N; The Appraisal Interview; Wiley; 1958

[20] Ibid 1

[21] McGregor, D; The Human Side of Enterprise; New York; McGraw Hill; 1960

[22] Ibid 18

[23] Ibid 13

[24] 1994 Graduate Careers in Procter & Gamble; Prepared by PRL, Cambridge; 1993

[25] Bennis, W / Nanns, B; Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge; New York; Harper & row; 1985

[26] The Director, November 1988

[27] Ibid 7

[28] Zaleznik, A; Managers and leaders: Are They Different?; Harvard Business Review; May/June 1977

[29] Ibid 14

[30] Warren Bennis interview with Peter Drucker; Facing the Challenge; BBC Video; 1990

[31] Handy, C; Understanding Organisations (4th ed.); Penguin Books; 1993

[32] Ibid 6

[33] Supra

[34] Fox, P; Exploring Managers’ Jobs; International Journal of Manpower; Vol 12, No.&; 1991, pp 20-30

[35] Ibid 15

[36] Stewart, R; Managers and Their Jobs; Heinemann; London; 1967

[37] Ibid 15

[38] Ibid 34

[39] Peters, T; Thriving on Chaos; London; MacMillan; 1987

[40] Ibid 1

[41] Ibid 6

[42] Waterman, R; The Renewal Factor; New York; Bantam; 1989

[43] Drucker, P.F; Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices; Heinemann; 1974

[44] Ibid 1