This is probably one of the most debated questions in the field of management theory. There are many approaches to defining the features that make people successful as managers. But upon careful analysis it becomes evident that a manager’s perspective is his/her most enabling asset. Manager’s perspective is in a way similar to the concept of vision, which is by far the most cited characteristic of good managers. A good manager should be ‘a strategic and visionary thinker with a successful track record in developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating strategies and initiatives’ (JobBank USA, n/d., p. 3).
Yet the notion of perspective encompasses much more than vision; it’s more complex and holistic. Analyzing different elements of manger’s perspective, there is a need to focus on certain strategic issues. First of all, it’s of paramount importance for a manager to take a long-term view. It’s also important to keep in mind that long-term planning is different from voluntarism and should be made for a reasonable time period: ‘A good manager doesn’t require a strategic plan for the next millennium.
They do need to know what objectives must be achieved within stated time frames, and be able to communicate that information in a meaningful way to other people. They also need to know how to put a plan in place to meet those objectives’ (AllBusiness. com, 2004, para. 2). In a broader sense, perspective can be understood as a set of principles applicable to manager’s job. In business life, it often happens that a person can’t reach the outlined goals despite applying all the conventional rules of effective management.
And it’s even more often that a leader achieves tremendous results but derives no satisfaction from this success. A very insightful book, Principle Centered Leadership by Richard Covey, doesn’t mention the term ‘perspective’ explicitly, but in fact the book is devoted to the exploration of this concept. Covey warns leaders and managers from falling into one of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins,’ which are Wealth Without Work, Pleasure Without Conscience, Knowledge Without Character, Commerce Without Morality, Science Without Humanity, Religion Without Sacrifice, and Politics Without Principle.
Indeed, if a person gains wealth without work, the added value of this wealth for this person won’t be high. Wealth is not a goal in itself; it’s just an indicator of the effort a leader is putting into business, and success of this effort. In the majority of cases, ‘quick money’ comes from half-illegal schemes or manipulations. In business, like in life, fair play is important. Having the right perspective on the nature of work and money can help the manager to derive greater satisfaction from what he or she is doing.
As for the pleasure without conscience, many successful businessmen tend to indulge themselves in all possible ways without taking morality and society into account. I think that psychological comfort and moral cleanness are more important than the enjoyment of the modern temptations. Knowledge without character is another important concern. It often happens that great knowledge is possessed by people with weak character. This is especially dangerous as they may use this knowledge, consciously or unconsciously, to harm other people.
Here the concept of perspective is also present: without profound understanding how to apply knowledge, manager’s job won’t ever succeed in his or her position. Commerce without morality can be frequently observed in today’s business world. Although many companies try to engage in various Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, many do so only for the public relations reasons. Managers often forget that the purpose of commerce is not only to bring profits to them but also enhance the overall well-being of the society.
Society and commerce are interdependent, and following moral and ethical codes benefits every business. Speaking about science without humanity, Covey warns us against becoming the victims of our own technocracy. Science and technology should serve the cause of humanity and not subordinate us to their logic. Religion without sacrifice is hypocritical in its nature as it doesn’t give people true spiritual connection, only social facade. Such crucial habits as win-win interdependency, empathy, and synergy can be developed only through a sacrifice to the cause the one really believes in.
To me, the explanation of politics without principle was one of the most interesting parts of this chapter. Nowadays we can observe the competition of public images of the politicians and businessmen, created by the skilled professional teams, not of their personalities or convictions. On the contrary, the leader, who has his or her own, unique value system and beliefs, who has something new to offer to the public, who wants to endorse agenda he or she firmly and truly believes in, will always have the advantage of feeling him/herself inherently legitimate and honest.
It’s also very important to have your own perspective when working in a multicultural team. Creating cultural synergy implies deep understanding of your own culture, perceptions, stereotypes and preferences. In order to improve my skills at creating cultural synergy, I should devote more time to self-reflection. Deeper understanding of your own self helps to understand other peoples’ concerns. Applying the theoretical knowledge to my practical managerial experience, I would like to describe a situation when sticking to my own perspective helped me to solve a number of problems in the organization.
I work as a manager assistant for an accounting company. For a certain period of time, the company was experiencing a decline in workers’ productivity. The manager believed that the employee simply became lazy, and serious administrative and disciplinary measures were requires. However, my conviction is that the issue of employee motivation is more complex than that. My perspective to solving this problem included problem identification, situation analysis and appropriate solutions based on my knowledge of management theory.
By virtue of my organization, many goals put forward by it are not achievable by individuals working alone. Therefore, one of the primary concerns for the manager is to create conditions for the individuals to function in teams, effectively and with high level of satisfaction. The situation is aggrandized by the nature of my organization, where individuals and teams have to work in the framework of subordination. However, it’s important to encourage individual initiative, too.
In my organization, teams and individuals routinely spent much time and energy on concepts and details, without much sense of urgency for taking new steps, due in part to the risks involved with a certain action that could be later disapproved by their superiors. It turned out that in certain situations it’s useful to encourage group decision making. A group or an organization can be successful only if it contrives to find methods to creatively solve problems and focus on reaching goals and achieving results.
Group decision making is the process of arriving at a judgment based upon the feedback of multiple individuals. Such decision making is a key component to the functioning of any organization, because their performance involves more than just individual action. Group decision-making means improves pre-planning. The input and ideas of all stakeholders are gathered and synthesized to arrive at a final decision acceptable to all. Thus, group decision making ensures much higher level of member satisfaction (Hirokawa & Poole, 1996). Greater commitment is also among important advantages of group decision making.
Open, collaborative atmosphere ensures contribution from all levels; idea generation free of criticism is another advantage to keep in mind. Group decision making provided higher evaluation objectivity for the reason that ideas evaluated on merits rather than source and experience and expertise of a large number of individuals is available. Despite group decision takes more time and member skill, it uses lots of resources before a decision is made and creates commitment to the decision. This was the first step to motivate employee y non-financial means. In fact, this type of motivation proved to be very important:
‘When people think of honoring employees for jobs well done, they may typically think of monetary rewards. However, these may be neither necessary nor the best type of reward. Once offered, cash bonuses can come to be expected and quickly forgotten, especially if they are the only recognition employees receive’ (Fielding, 2005, para. 1). My perspective was based on the contingency model constructed of the four perspectives of management. In many circles, it’s considered that the newest model is the best one, since it encompasses both previous and newly conducted research.
However, my conviction is that each of these theories has something valuable to offer, therefore these theories should be applied as an integrated model. For instance, Taylor’s model of Scientific Management, apart from being the basis for all the modern theories of management, is still widely applied in different settings. For example, since my organization is highly bureaucratic, many employees tend to perform tasks at the slowest rate possible. This is a characteristic feature of the repetitive jobs (Taylor, 2004).
The measures proposed by Taylor more than a century ago are still widely applied, e.g. defining the fastest working and the most committed employee to set him as an example (or standard, if you will) for the rest to follow. Sometimes it also may be useful to utilize the system of money premiums suggested by Taylor to praise the workers who have shown high levels of commitment and productivity. Another principle of scientific management that is widely applied in my organization is a ‘scientific’ approach to training and task division. That is, the employees are assigned specific tasks, which they are obliged to fulfill.
Training happens under the supervision of senior management: although the employees are encouraged to use the available tools for self-development, the professional training occurs only using the specific set of tools developed for this purposes. Training activities are design to both match the individual needs of the workers and maximize the efficiency of the organization. The most committed and best trained workers usually get further promotion, so the incentives are not solely financial. This relates to yet another perspective on management.
The results of the Hawthorne experiments, which made researchers interpret the organizational behavior in an innovative way form the Human Relation School, are also used in my organization. Hawthorne Studies discovered the fact that workers were unlikely to respond to classical motivational approaches as suggested in the Scientific Management and Taylor approaches. Elton Mayo, who is one of the founders of the Human Relations School is reported to ‘[have] developed an elaborate theory of the relationship between working conditions and workers’ mental states and their impact on productivity and industrial relations’ (Gillespie, 1993, p.
71). Following the assumptions of the Human Relations School that social factors are more important than financial, it’s necessary to pay extra attention to the psychological climate in my organization. Since authority is one of the most valued categories in my organization, the possibility of promotion is a very good motivation and fair reward for the employees whom show outstanding results. In my view, my organization features an extensive use of the principles of Administrative Management.
Systems Theory is also useful, mostly for the purposes of evaluation and optimization of the work of my organization. Systems Theory is easily applicable at mo workplace, since the division of my organization into subsystems is very logical and clear. Therefore, it’s very convenient to track the development of different subsystems and functional interaction between them. A manager having problems with employee satisfaction should perhaps apply the principles of the Human Relations School, with its focus on ‘sociopsychological determinants of morale and efficiency’ (Henderson, 1996, p.24).
Since it was the first management theory that concerned specifically with employee satisfaction, many ideas and principles are still very up-to-date. In my organization, the superiors are encouraged to reach out to their subordinates to become aware of their needs and concerns. Acknowledging the successes of employees and advising them in times of stress and confusion can boost employee productivity (Gandy, 2001). Mere attention to the employees increases their satisfaction and commitment.
In fact, it’s very important to communicate your perspecrive to collegues and employees in order to reach a common ground. Without effective communication, manager’s perspective has little value. Lisa Haneberg (2007, p. 2), one of the leading experts in the areas of management, leadership, and personal and organizational success, suggest that in order to be successful, you should ‘[s]hare your perspective and be open…[because].. the most inspiring leaders have a strong vision for how things ought to be. ’ After the manager approved all the innovation proposed by me, workers’ motivation started to rise.
My perspective – careful situation analysis and application of theoretical models of management to real-life situations – helped me to diagnose and solve a deeply-rooted organizational problem. Therefore, perspective is the most valuable asset a manager may possess.
Covey, S. R. Principle Centered Leadership. New York: Simon ; Schuster, 1992. Gandy, Dottie B. (2001). 30 Days to a Happy Employee: How a Simple Program of Acknowledgment Can Build Trust and Loyalty at Work. New York: Fireside. Gillespie, R. (1993) Manufacturing Knowledge: A History of the Hawthorne Experiments.
Cambridge University Press, Reprint. Henderson, George. (1996). Human Relations Issues in Management. Westport, CT: Quorum Books. Hirokawa, Randy Y. , and Marshall Scott Poole (eds. ) (1996). Communication and Group Decision Making. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Taylor, Frederick W. (2004). The Principles Of Scientific Management. Kila, MT: Kessinger Publishing. AllBusiness. com. (November 16, 2004). ‘What Makes a Good Manager? ’ Retrieved February 18, 2007, from http://www. allbusiness. com/human-resources/workforce-management/1007-1. html