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Cutting-Edge Thinking to Engage and Motivate Your Employees for Success
By STUART CRAINER, DES DEARLOVE
McGraw-Hill EducationCopyright © 2014 Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove
All rights reserved.
How We Got Here
Management is all-embracing. "There are, of course, differences in management between different organizations—mission defines strategy, after all, and strategy defines structure. But the differences between managing a chain of retail stores and managing a Roman Catholic diocese are amazingly fewer than either retail executives or bishops realize," Peter Drucker observed. "The differences are mainly in application rather than in principles. The executives of all these organizations spend, for instance, about the same amount of their time on people problems—and the people problems are almost always the same.
"So whether you are managing a software company, a hospital, a bank, or a Boy Scout organization, the differences apply to only about 10 percent of your work. This 10 percent is determined by the organization's specific mission, its specific culture, its specific history and its specific vocabulary. The rest is pretty much interchangeable."
Even though management is global and timeless, a neat definition is elusive. "Management is ..." leads to quizzical silence and furrowed brows whether you are on a factory floor in Nebraska, in a Harvard seminar room, or in a trading hall in Hong Kong.
According to Wikipedia, "Management is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives." True, but there is much more to management than that. The attraction—and the trouble—is that management is multifaceted. Pinning it down is like nailing Jell-O. It is marketing. It is strategy. It is inspiring people. It is budgeting. It is organizing projects and commitments. It is a complex, highly personal, and now truly global calling.
With all this complexity, it is no surprise that the historical and theoretical strands that make up contemporary management are many and varied. The great management thinkers are drawn from a bewildering variety of disciplines and professions. There are economists, such as Harvard Business School's Michael Porter; psychologists, such as Edgar Schein of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; sociologists, such as Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School; management consultants, such as Bruce Henderson and Marvin Bower; engineers aplenty, from Frederick Taylor to the civil engineering–trained Tom Peters; and even a nuclear physicist, the clarinet-playing would-be politician Kenichi Ohmae.
Indeed, what increasingly sets management apart as a profession is that it is amenable to being driven by ideas. In management, theories make a difference; ideas are put to work and can change the lives of millions of people. The obverse of this is that if ideas don't work, they are quickly consigned to history. This explains the continual churn of ideas. They come and go with increasing rapidity.
The first to effectively codify management was Henri Fayol (1841–1925), who spent his entire working career with the French mining company Commentry-Fourchambault-Décazeville. He saved that company from the brink of bankruptcy and was managing director between 1888 and 1918.
Along the way, Fayol developed 14 "general principles of management." The following, he said, were the universal characteristics of management:
1. Division of work
2. Authority and responsibility
4. Unity of command
5. Unity of direction
6. Subordination of individual interest to general interest
7. Remuneration of employees
9. The scalar chain
12. Stability of personnel
14. Esprit de corps
Fayol's 14 principles were what concerned managers or what should have concerned managers. To ensure that they were put into effective practice, Fayol said that managers needed to plan, organize, command, coordinate, and control. As a summary of what the job of management is, this remains largely true in the twenty-first century.
Of course, over time the emphasis on each of these aspects is turned up or down depending on circumstances. Looking back, it is possible to detect a pattern. Periods of fascination with the human side of enterprise (the soft areas of motivation, development, and culture) are interspersed with periods when the hard side—analysis, data, strategy, structure, and processes—prevails.
Management as Science
In the early twentieth century, the hard side dominated. Although Fayol's ideas largely failed to find a mass audience, scientific management became the first international management theory. Created by Frederick Taylor (1856–1915), it was built around the measurement of activities. Managers held stopwatches and knew how long jobs should take.
In terms of management, Taylor brought analytical vigor to the workplace. Before Taylor, no one had scientifically analyzed the nature of work. Taylor looked at work anew. Scientific management was the Total Quality Management (TQM) of its day. Taylor's work was known and devoured in Japan. In Russia, Lenin was a fan. In France, his champion was the metallurgist Henri Le Chatelier. By the time of Taylor's death, two editions of the French translation of The Principles of Scientific Management had been printed and 4,000 had been sold (another 3,000 had been, according to Chatelier, "gratuitously distributed").
The development of Taylor's theories went in tandem with Henry Ford's development of the production line: Ford's assembly line was scientific management at work. Peter Drucker has cited Taylor's thinking as "the most lasting contribution America has made to Western thought since the Federalist Papers." Wasn't Henry Ford a bigger deal? No, says Drucker. The assembly line was simply a logical extension of scientific management.
As mass production created the first generation of modern managers, attention switched to the human side of enterprise. Most notably, experiments at Western Electric's Hawthorne plant in Cicero, Illinois, between 1927 and 1932 sought to understand the behavior of people in the new industrial environment.
The Hawthorne Studies began with experiments in which the lighting in the factory was altered. The theory was that brighter light would raise morale and, as a result, increase productivity. Elton Mayo (1880–1949) and his researchers set out to establish the lighting level that maximized productivity without being prohibitively expensive. This seemed straightforward, simply a question of finding the balance between cost and effect.
Hawthorne workers were separated into two groups. In one group the lighting levels were increased, and productivity increased. In the other group the lighting remained at its normal level, and productivity increased. Lighting levels were further increased, but still the productivity levels in the two groups remained much the same.
This seemed surprisingly inconclusive. How could productivity rise when the lighting remained exactly the same? The researchers therefore started reducing lighting levels. They reduced the lighting in one group drastically, and productivity increased. Eventually, the light was reduced to extreme duskiness. It was expected that the workers would be depressed and irritable working in moonlight. In fact, their productivity remained at a similar level and sometimes increased. To prove the point, two workers were isolated in a very small room with minimal lighting. Their productivity continued at a healthy level.
The researchers shook their heads and contemplated what all this meant. They were confused but, being researchers, returned with a more complicated experiment. In the factory's relay assembly test room, a group of six women who assembled telephone relay switches were selected and isolated in a test room. There they were diligently observed. Conditions were changed and tinkered with. However, nothing seemed to reduce productivity.
The conclusion from the research team was that they had missed something, which turned out to be the relationships, attitudes, feelings, and perceptions of the people involved. The research program had revolved around selecting small groups of workers to be studied. This, not surprisingly, made the workers feel special. For the first time they actually felt that management was interested in them. The second effect was that the people felt that they belonged to a select team. They identified with their group. "The desire to stand well with one's fellows, the so-called human instinct of association, easily outweighs the merely individual interest and the logic of reasoning upon which so many spurious principles of management are based," commented Mayo.
A Japanese manager quoted in Richard Pascale's Managing on the Edge made an important observation: "There is nothing wrong with the findings. But the Hawthorne experiments look at human behavior from the wrong perspective. Your thinking needs to build from the idea of empowering workers, placing responsibility closest to where the knowledge resides, using consistently honored values to draw the separate individuals together. The Hawthorne experiments imply smug superiority, parent-to-child assumptions. This is not a true understanding."
Rebutting such assumptions was a gaunt Boston spinster, Mary Parker Follett (1868–1933), who was discussing issues such as teamwork and responsibility (now reborn as empowerment) in the first decades of the twentieth century. Follett was a female liberal humanist in an era dominated by reactionary males intent on mechanizing the world of business.
The thrust of Follett's thinking was that people are central to any business activity or, indeed, to any other activity. "I think we should undepartmentalize our thinking in regard to every problem that comes to us," said Follett. "I do not think that we have psychological and ethical and economic problems. We have human problems, with psychological, ethical and economical aspects, and as many others as you like."
During World War II, the human side again took a backseat. Nations focused on production no matter what. But in the 1950s the softer side of theory was again to the fore with the human relations school of thinkers, including Douglas McGregor, Abraham Maslow, and Frederick Herzberg. In the early 1960s, the hard side of strategy and structure took over. Alfred P. Sloan's 1963 book My Years with General Motors provided an organizational coda. Strategic management with its focus on analysis and tools such as the Boston matrix ruled the managerial roost.
The hard side dominated throughout the 1960s and 1970s with only occasional intermissions, such as Henry Mintzberg's The Nature of Managerial Work in 1973. In the 1980s the soft side revived. The Japanese were the role models, and they, as Richard Pascale and Anthony Athos pointed out in The Art of Japanese Management, were not the ruthless strategists we had been led to believe but were driven by imponderables such as corporate values. Leadership returned to the agenda; marketing and customer service were rediscovered. Quality, which began life as arid statistical control, was reinterpreted as a human discipline.
The early 1990s saw a resurgence of the hard scientific school through reengineering. With reengineering soon used largely as a euphemism for downsizing, the emphasis returned to the soft side of intuition and values, people as resources rather than staff. In 1997 McKinsey set the agenda by describing what it called the war for talent.
During the last 20 years, the soft and hard pattern has become blurred. Hard subjects such as the rise of big data rest alongside the rise of global teams and the challenges of motivating a more skeptical younger generation. The modern manager has to be a master of both sides: the art and science of management.
To make sense of this ebb and flow we have identified nine concepts that are the central focus of today's management thinking:
1. What managers do (Chapter 2). Ambiguity and isolation are the twin fears voiced by CEOs in their more candid moments. Ambiguity stems from the fact that the more senior you are in the executive scale, the less your job is mapped out for you. Indeed, this troubling lack of clear identity lies at the heart of management. Any understanding of management must begin with an appreciation of how managers spend and should spend their time.
2. Engaging people (Chapter 3). Research suggests there is a chronic lack of engagement among contemporary employees throughout the world. Understanding this requires that we better understand the evolution of management thinking around motivation and put it in a modern context. Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Gary Hamel are among those leading the intellectual charge.
3. Managing processes (Chapter 4). From Frederick Taylor's scientific management and Henry Ford to modern-day production, the processes that lie behind organizational life have exercised the best minds. We trace the lineage of ideas from Henry Ford via W. Edwards Deming and reengineering to the present day.
4. Measuring performance (Chapter 5). A one-stop measure for managerial performance is elusive, perhaps impossible. In the meantime, organizations worldwide have embraced the balanced scorecard as a managerial measure.
5. Managing change (Chapter 6). Our age does not have a monopoly on change; societies and the business world have always changed and improved. What is new, however, is our awareness that the process of change can, for better or worse, be managed.
6. Managing talent (Chapter 7). The war for talent was announced in the 1990s. Talent has won. But what does this mean for those who attempt to manage and lead talented people? Doug Ready is among those proposing solutions.
7. Managing globally (Chapter 8). Globalization is a fact of corporate life rather than a decorative addition. How does this change the nature of management? How do cultural perceptions and reality affect what managers now do and think?
8. Managing emotionally (Chapter 9). It has long been recognized that management is a very human science. From Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences to Daniel Goleman's concept of emotional intelligence and Dan Pink on the art of selling, we examine the emotions behind performance.
9. Managing millennials (Chapter 10). One of the biggest issues facing managers is how to manage the expectations, perceptions, and behavior of the new generation entering the workforce. Tammy Erickson and Lynda Gratton are among those who have made suggestions.CHAPTER 2
What Managers Do
Amid the intellectual jousting of academic research, it is interesting and perhaps worrying that what managers actually do is often overlooked. It is notable, if somewhat bizarre, that the actual tasks undertaken by people in the course of their work have been examined so little. This is particularly true for managerial work. Examinations of what managers really do are few and far between even now. The most significant is Henry Mintzberg's study in the early 1970s that led to his groundbreaking book The Nature of Managerial Work. Mintzberg, of Canada's McGill University, has consistently lamented the lack of substantial scholarship about "managers and the essential work they do in organizations."
The conclusions of Mintzberg's research would have shocked and appalled Frederick Taylor: Mintzberg found that managers flitted from task to task, job to job, in an apparently inefficient manner. Instead of spending time contemplating the long term, managers, Mintzberg found, were slaves to the moment, moving from task to task with every move dogged by another diversion, another call. The median time spent on any single issue was a mere nine minutes. In The Nature of Managerial Work, Mintzberg identifies the characteristics of the manager at work:
Performs a great quantity of work at an unrelenting pace
Undertakes activities marked by variety, brevity, and fragmentation
Has a preference for issues that are current, specific, and nonroutine
Prefers verbal rather than written means of communication
Acts within a web of internal and external contacts
Is subject to heavy constraints but can exert some control over the work
From these observations, Mintzberg identified the manager's "work roles" as follows:
Figurehead: representing the organization or unit to outsiders
Leader: motivating subordinates and unifying effort
Liaiser: maintaining lateral contacts
Monitor: of information flows
Disseminator: of information to subordinates
Spokesman: transmission of information to outsiders
Entrepreneur: initiator and designer of change
Disturbance handler: handling nonroutine events
Resource allocator: deciding who gets what and who will do what
This may sound familiar. Mintzberg revisited the book in the first decade of the twenty-first century in Managing. We asked him why so few books have been written about what managers actually do.
Excerpted from THINKERS50 Management by STUART CRAINER, DES DEARLOVE. Copyright © 2014 Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill Education.
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