Management comprises of direction and control of a group of one or more people or entities for the purpose of coordinating and harmonizing that group towards accomplishing a goal. In business, management often encompasses the deployment and manipulation of human resources, financial resourced, technological resources and natural resources. Since the management department is the core of effective operations, strategies and proper procedure must run it.
If employers are genuine about participation, the prime area of attention needs to be the daily behavior of managers. This necessitates reviewing the performance, selection and training of managers. The worst thing to do is to promote people into managerial jobs while letting them think that they need not take their managerial responsibilities seriously (p. 10). Participation also needs to be examined in the context of organizational and national culture and the pressures on an organization at particular points in time. Too often the topic is addressed as though the objectives can be achieved simply through mechanistic imposition. To understand what makes of an effective manager, I have studied Rees and Porter’s Skills of Management and interviewed two managers.
The first interviewee is Lisa McCormack, a 35 years old Services Manager in a Health Service provider in Ireland. She has a degree in Social Science and a post graduate diploma in management studies. She has also completed computer courses, health and safety courses, and time management and conflict resolution. She has been with her current employer for ten years.
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Lisa is a full-time Services Manager, whose main responsibilities are matched with that of a manager. Her main responsibilities in her current position include strategic planning for services, report preparation, budget allocation, staff management and working as part of a multi disciplinary team to enhance service provision for their client group.
Lisa was employed in 1998 as a Project Coordinator, which included some management duties but a project Manager was responsible for the department. She worked as a project coordinator until 2002 when she was appointed Services Coordinator, which again included some management duties but supervised by a Service Manager. In 2005 she was promoted to become a Service Manager where she takes over full management duties. Management does not take place in a vacuum but in a particular set of circumstances – usually requiring specialist knowledge. It would be unusual for a manager in a specialist environment to have had years of specialist training but only days of management training (p.2).
Management escalator is progression of responsibilities, from specialists to managerial, through time to help employees acquire managerial skills overtime while developing operational skills at the same time. This transition, as managerial responsibilities increase and specialist activities decrease, gives the employee a more impeccable expertise in the department.
Specialists often acquire managerial responsibilities, and often quite early in their career. Those aspiring to management have found that their entry route is via a specialist department. Consequently, it is appropriate to see that managers have the right blend of specialist and managerial skills and that they are given help in adjusting to managerial roles. The implications of the specialist route into management need to be reflected in the structure of increasingly popular undergraduate programs in business studies. There is a case for such courses having both specialist options and a managerial component.
Service management is integrated into Supply Chain Management as the joint between the actual sales and the customer. A service manager reduces high service costs by integrating the service and products supply chain. She also reduces inventory levels of service parts and therefore reduces total inventory costs. She optimizes customer service and service quality.
She helps in the increase of service revenue by reducing obsolescence costs of service parts through improved forecasting. A service manager may also minimize technician visits as with her knowledge and expertise, she can fix related problems. There is no way she can miss these skills through her years of specialist activities.
She believes that her education has served her very well in gaining promotions but she would consider her informal education within the organization as very relevant to her current managerial position as Increases in the quantity of management training are one thing, ensuring that training is effective is another, (p. 17). Professional experience in the organization teaches helpful application than theories.
The second interviewee is a 52 year old Manager of a global clothing production company. He claims that he’s a full time Manager of the Sales Department but states that 50% of his time is spent on managerial responsibilities while 25% of it is spent on changes, which their clients might require in the future and the remaining 25% spent on trying to get new clients.
According to Rees and Porter, management operates through various functions, such as: (a) the planning and deciding what needs to happen in the future. It also includes generating plans for action; (b) organizing, which is the making optimum use of the resources required to enable the successful carrying out of plans; (c) leading and motivating, which is the exhibiting of skills in specialty areas for getting others to play an effective part in achieving plans; and (d) controlling, monitoring, and checking of progress against plans, which may need modification based on feedback. From this it can be inferred that though he’s a full-time manager performing specialist responsibilities, he in fact comprises the key skills of an effective manager.
He has worked five years as a specialist sales person before becoming a supervisor and four years later became a manager. Managerial responsibility usually flows from specialist expertise; if a person has to run a specialist unit they are unlikely to be able to do this unless they understand what their subordinates are doing and can give appropriate guidance about working methods and end results (p. 6).
Another problem that can arise people with background in a particular management specialty. Like other specialists, they may pay too much attention to their area of historic specialization. They may give too much priority in terms of time and decision making to issues in their specialized area (p.11). He has been a very effective sales specialist, which caused his department to expand. Promotion to supervisory or management positions of specialists may reduce or remove the opportunity to do the work for which they were trained and with which they identify (p. 12) but apparently this does not prove as in his case.
He has taken a two-year post graduate course in Business Administration and attended many seminars. He says his formal management training, his BA course, is very effective and that he could not have done what he has accomplished now without it.
Though role definition must be crystal clear to put a precise boundary between managers and specialists whose responsibilities are both overlapping, the two interviewees show that their managerial position does not take their operational responsibilities away.
Organizations must be straightforward when it comes to job descriptions to avoid confusion. The selectors of managers must also be competent since incompetent ones would only appoint those skillful specialists into managerial positions they are not good in or unprepared for. Organizations who assign managerial responsibilities to specialists without formality may also encounter problems such as a demand for high paying specialist jobs, ineffective and reduced incentives for quality work from specialists who perform managerial responsibilities, and specialists encountering difficulty in integrating with colleagues. However, such problems are not demonstrated by both interviewees.
Managers should also identify what disciplinary handling skills need to be developed in organizations. Much attention is often paid to serious issues such as dismissal but most disciplinary action is, or needs to be, at the base where action such as counseling and informal warnings may be what is required. Training provided is often heavily oriented around the law and more appropriate for managers than specialists. Focuses on the need to clarify responsibilities, the nature of the skills managers need, the way these skills can be developed and the preventive aspects of discipline. Crucial managerial skills should be identified and categorized into process skills.
Rees & Porter, Skills of Management, Chapter 1 Thomson Learning, 2001
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