How to Be a Good Manager in the 21th Century

How to be a good manager in the 21th century Nowadays, the role of a good and responsible manager gains a much greater importance than it did in previous years. These days it’s not only about meeting a financial goal. A good manager should also be a socially-minded and caring person. Interpersonal skills should be viewed as essential as the decision-making-ability. This is significant due to the fact that the employees are the key to a successful business. A company runs as good as its team and therefore it’s necessary to show respect for the employees and encourage and challenge them.

A manager should also show his team his appreciation and give every individual the impression that he understands that he is doing something important for the company. Thus, the employee’s confidence can be built. The secret of running a successful business is to make sure that the manager is a socially responsible person who has the ability to energize, excite and control and to adapt oneself to the company’s value and culture. Jack Welch, former CEO and chairman of GE, is universally recognized as the greatest CEO of his era.

According to him, transparency within a company is an important criterion which opens the doors for bigger success. Openness can have a positive impact on business process. Welch describes it in three aspects. First of all, employees can be involved in meetings and conferences where they can give their opinions without timidity. Someone with a voice can bring new ideas forward which are absolutely an advantage for the company. Secondly, it can advance the managers’ decisions. If new thoughts and ideas are getting said, they can be put into practice much faster.

Nowadays, many companies have to cope with high pressure due to business competition. Thus it’s essential to improve oneself constantly. For this reason new opinions and ideas can have a beneficial effect. Besides the fact that openness can be very time-saving, it also reduces costs. Thirdly, it therefore can be said that transparency adds to a company’s benefit. At the same time, managers should be honest with employees so that they know exactly where they’re standing and whether they meet conditions. In other words, employees have to be informed about their roles within a company.

This is extremely important for the clarity and openness in the corporate life and can be guaranteed through regular appraisal interviews in which the employee receives a feedback about his performance, strengths and weaknesses. A performance review enables the staff member to get a review of his work by which he can improve himself gradually for the coming months. Thus, it provides the opportunity to set expectations for the future both of the behaviors required of the individual as well as the results needed to be achieved.

Since the appraisal interview is not a one-sided method of being assessed, the manager should be rated by his staff as well. One the one hand, it ensures equality within the firm because both are evaluated. On the other hand, the manager obtains an overview of the employees concerns and needs. Considering these facts it can be said that appraisal interviews should play an important role and be a formal element of an on-going and active performance management process in a company that strives for transparency.

In this context Jack Welch illustrates his 20-70-10 rule his point of view of differentiation, where the staff gets ranked in three categories. The percentage represents the top, middling and failing employees of a company who should be treated according to Welch in different ways. The first 20%, which represents the best performers, deserve the best treatment for their efforts and achievements. Welch’s approach is to reward the best 20% with bonuses, commendations and advanced training. The 70% represents the average employees.

These ones are valuable for the company because they have the potential to become one of the best. So a manager’s duty is to promote and challenge expertise and strengthen personalities of the average 70%. The main goal is to watch the employees, identify the ones with the potential of career advancement and to support them. During this process, it’s important to motivate the people and let them know that they’re part of the company. The last 10% are the poor performers, who have to be dismissed.

Although the main principle of this rule seems to be very radical, it is according to Welch the managers’ duty to assign a role to the staff. A manager should show his employees how they can develop within the company and not confuse them by keeping this information secret. Nevertheless it’s alright to fail sometimes. Making mistakes shows that one is actively doing something. After all, people are learning from experience and sometimes it’s necessary to fail in order to see reason. But occasionally the job demands a great deal of someone. Jack Welch is onvinced that there’s no risk of getting burned out in an exciting job. Exhaustion can only be caused by a routine. Nevertheless, one must differentiate between important and less important things. A responsible manager should therefore primarily concentrate on major tasks with top priority while minor duties should be done at the very end. In this matter, Welch says it’s important to define clear goals if you want to be a good manager. It’s essential to know where you’re standing right now, where you want to get and how you want to reach the goal.

Particularly regarding competitors, it is necessary to have a clear target. That’s why a manager should be aware that other companies are striving for improvement as well. So resting on one’s laurels should be avoided. If a company is very successful and belongs to the top ones, it doesn’t mean that the other enterprises are not aiming at success. There are always others who are doing things better. In today’s world it is therefore of great importance for a manager to create a clear vision and set ambitious business objectives in order to make progress.

In addition, it’s necessary to make sure that everyone working in the company shares that vision and strives for the same goals. Both aspects are very much interconnected and should always be viewed in direct relation. So it becomes obvious that the combination of a good manager and the right team leads to successful business. In his 4E-model, also called 4E of leadership, Jack Welch explains how to build the right team. The E’s describe four characteristics that a manager should embody in order to achieve that. The first “E” stands for positive energy. “Welch says that individuals with energy love to “go, go, go”.

These are people that are very optimistic, sociable and full of “joie de vivre”. A manager who is full of energy loves to work and never complain. The second “E” represents the ability to energize people and spark them to perform. The third “E” represents edge, meaning that those who have edge can come to terms with hard decisions and stay competitive. These characteristics are essential for a manager, but yet not sufficient. A capable manager must know how to transform energy and edge into action and results. That’s what the last “E” stands for; a good manager knows how to execute.

If a manger fulfills all these conditions, he finally should have the passion to perform. People, who have joy in their job, are automatically better in their profession. They love their job and want the employees to love it, too. This passion proves that they’ve chosen the right job and accomplish the role of a manager in a perfect way. Having taken all these factors into account, I come to the conclusion that someone who wants to be a good manager need to think outside the box. These days it’s more than just about having the ability to control the progress of work.

Beyond that it’s more important to have social skills in order to motivate people to work and being able to cope with conflicting situations. There is no doubt that experience is in this context the best teacher. One can learn from the boss but as well from the employees. Thus, a manager should be open-minded for any kind of criticism and consider the employees more as a team rather than only as manpower. Finally it can be said that bringing enthusiasm to the job, building the right team and staying realistic are of central importance for being a successful manager in the 21th century. ——————————————- [ 1 ]. Slater, Robert. Jack Welch and the G. E. Way: Management Insights and Leadership Secrets of the Legendary CEO. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998. [ 2 ]. Welch, Jack and Suzy. Winning: Das ist Management. New York/Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2005. [ 3 ]. A new conversation with Jack Welch. 26 April 2011 . [ 4 ]. A new conversation with Jack Welch. 26 April 2011 . [ 5 ]. Krames, Jeffrey. Jack Welch and the 4E’s of Leadership: How to Put GE’s Leadership Formula to Work in Your Organization. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2005.

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