Management as a generalised mass concept can be described as the process of dealing with or controlling things and/or people. As such, the notion is somewhat difficult to quantify as it is subjectively influenced by non-quantifiable elements, which themselves are difficult to predict e.g. people.
Yet there are many arguments pertaining to the illusion that management can be undertaken as a pure science, and as such you are able to have predicted hard outcomes, rather than potential outcomes. It is important to remember success in the field of management is relative and never absolute, as the human element changes the possible potential outcomes. People have their own thoughts, opinions and choices, which inevitably changes the dynamic of any given situation and moves management away from pure science.
Management is more than a sum of its parts, there needs to be an acknowledgment that experience, training, and professional association all factor in the holistic makeup of the field. Management is more than a position held by an individual within an organisation.
Arguably, it is akin to a halo effect, in that work undertaken by the manager should create an impression which influences another area for a desired outcome. To achieve this type of effect a simplistic approach can be comprised of:
- Confidence – act and behave in an appropriate manner to demonstrate your position
- Smile – be courteous in your dealings with people ensuring that you actively listen
- Clarity – ensure people know what you what them to do, so they can do it
- Battles – there is a time and a place to be authoritarian, compromise is not a sign of weakness
Management as a discipline is fluid, and there is a need to develop individual practice by embracing continuous professional development to support experience. Developing your practice is as important as gaining your position. A way this can be accomplished is by utilising 360° feedback as part of performance evaluation. This process asks co-workers for frank opinions of one another as a tool to aid development and improve performance. Yet many managers exclude themselves from the process, probably due to the inevitable fact that full discloser is not something that someone should do light-heartedly (especially when they manage people), as it inevitably shows up all those blemishes in the mirror of truth. If however managers agree to the process, they unsurprisingly stack the deck in their favour by handpicking respondents, acting up to bosses, and let’s-scratch-each-others-backs peer arrangements.
Despite this the 360° feedback process can be a powerful tool, not only for individuals but organisations as well. It can illustrate insight into areas of development and areas of underperformance which may need additional support, as well as being a great developmental tool for those involved. However, for this to be fully effective, there is a need for an organisational climate based on trust and engagement, with an ethos of community as a central theme.
Management, as with any other professional practice, needs attention and refinement. Practitioners need to engage with the discipline to be current and maintain their credibility; stagnation is not an option for today’s professional manager. Due to the fluidity and evolution of the field there are always opportunities to enhance practice and help improve performance.
“3d Man Building A Puzzle” image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net