Management is the process of designing and sustaining a situation in which people are organised to work together as a group to attain the set goals. Managing focuses on improving productivity through effectiveness and efficiency of a given group with set goals (Shafritz & Ott 2005).The concepts and theories in management are centered around the key functions of management, which include organising, planning, staffing, leading, and controlling. The main objective of this paper is to explore the manager’s task in designing an organisation’s internal environment for improving efficiency and performance. Although the emphasis is on the internal organisation, the managers cannot ignore the external factors. The management department must clearly understand the several elements of the exogenous environment such as socio-economic, political, technological, as well as ethical factors that influence different areas of operation. In an effort to understand how organisations function and the extent to which management is utilised as a science, this paper will analyse several theoretical perspectives and examples from contemporary organisational activities.
Management as a science
Although management can be viewed as an art from several dimensions, it is established in the richness of science. Management entails designing and making decisions on the grounds of business realities. Therefore, the basis of knowledge of organising, controlling, coordinating, and planning constitutes a science. To direct people without the skills of management science, managers can only rely on luck, instincts, or experiences. The results, which are likely to be ineffective bring low productivity (Weick 2001). However, scientific management requires a high degree of leadership to control the employees’ organisational practices, it might cause friction between workers and their managers. Ultimately, the level of production is escalated significantly. In his scientific management theory, Taylor identified that workers have different capabilities, as some are more talented than others, but the model of operation does not motivate them to produce their best (Shafritz & Ott 2005).
When workers are compelled to do tasks that they are not skilled in, they are slow and they do not work hard to improve. This slow rate of performance lowers production and blocks possible economic breakthroughs. In most industries, this kind of slow action is referred to as “soldiering on”, which means following the routine and opposing teamwork (Shafritz & Ott 2005).For example, having being an intern at the Barclays bank in the UK, individuals get the opportunity to learn as a team. The recruitment process is detailed and vacancies are filled on merit. The management has clear criteria of engaging and motivating the staff to produce effectively. When the workers are entitled to equal pay regardless of their capabilities, they tend to respond by doing the same amount of job that is done by those with low capabilities.
The majority of management theories sought to address this lack of motivation in a bid to ensure that workers are motivated to produce at top capacity. Taylor’s model insinuated that if employees’ compensation corresponded to their contribution, then their productivity would rise. In the modern workplace, managers have realised that workers are encouraged to produce optimally mainly by being motivated by salaries and other benefits. Therefore, organisations should be advised to usher in opportunities for workers to strive for higher financial benefits, which undoubtedly correspond to the maximum output or devise alternative means that suit particular situations to ensure efficiency.
Organisation’s administration allocates the managers the role of converting inputs into the desired outputs effectively (Schermerhorn 2004). The conversion process can be viewed from diverse perspectives that entail organising several entities to work together. The notion of management science arises since transformation involves a specific set of decisions that require accuracy in communication and application. It is necessary to examine the roles that define the managers’ course of action in a bid to establish the importance of organisations. First, designing involves the preliminary stages in planning, which entails articulating the objectives and the right actions to attain them. During planning, detailed actions emerge and they require managers to incorporate experts who are directly involved with the task. This aspect gives a clear proposal to a certain task even though it is not a real plan. The incorporation of the entire group creates the role of organising by the managers.
People coming together to accomplish a specific task have defined roles to play just like the body parts have independent roles for the proper functioning of the entire system (Schermerhorn 2004). The concept of a group coming together implies that what people intend to accomplish has a defined purpose. Each actor knows where his/her skills are well suited in the group as authority guides them. Therefore, organising involves formulating an intentional structure of tasks for workers to accomplish in a firm. The role of the manager is to ensure that people take certain roles in areas where they can function to the best of their abilities. The work of organising is to ensure that both the internal and external environments favour human performance.
Staffing entails coordination of the production process by ensuring that the right people occupy areas of their expertise. Managers achieve this goal by identifying task requirements and recruiting workers that fit best specific roles. Training is also essential when introducing new technologies or ideas. This aspect ensures that the jobholders have the capacity to achieve targets efficiently. Having the right staff members does not guarantee productivity. Managers should manifest leadership qualities by influencing workers to contribute to organisational goals without being pushed (Weick 2001). People have different attitudes, desires, and motives, and thus it is the mandate of the managers to evaluate and motivate workers through communication to work for the good will of the organisation. Managers have to win control and seize the opportunity to ensure that events lead to the expected outcomes. Although the skills employed by managers across different organisations will change from time to time, the managerial roles are relatively the same for all leaders. For efficiency, the practices and procedures should be set to suit certain roles and events.
The theories developed to minimise misunderstanding in managing organisations include the classical theories of organisations (Shafritz & Ott 2005). The classical theories include Taylor’s theory of scientific management, Fayol’s administrative theories, and Weber’s theory of bureaucracy. These theories support different perspectives in organising a task force in a certain setting, but with a sole goal of improving productivity. Some of the basic issues that influence an organisation’s performance involve communication. Communication is essential for the sustainability of an organisation and it should take a defined channel.
Since organisational communication is complex, through exchanging, interpreting, and integrating information, misunderstandings are expected to occur. Nonetheless, despite the persisting challenges, organising individuals is inevitable since every human activity entails people coming together to achieve activities that influence human sustainability. Therefore, theories give an explanation on how something happens or does not. The greatest challenge comes in when figuring out the most efficient and effective criteria of managing an organisation to achieve optimal benefits. The different perspectives by the aforementioned classical theorists help to analyse, explain, predict, and control behaviour by workers in an organisation.
Classical organisational theories and application
Understanding and applying classical theory has had a huge impact on how managers and workers perceive modern organisations and particularly the significance of effective communication in an organisation. Taylor’s views of organisations borrowed from the way machines function. From managerial concepts, modes of application, response of the workers, and the effect of communication are always predictable and they do not deviate from the norm (Talbot 2010). Management has an insight in what to expect from workers, and those who deviate are subjected to sanctions. Taylor’s proposition to eradicate misunderstanding and improve efficiency emphasised the need to promote specialisation and predictability. This goal was to be achieved by motivating workers to maximise their output by compensating them depending on individuals’ productivity. This aspect gave managers a better way to predict each worker’s contribution when allocated specific roles.
Weber’s theory of bureaucracy emphasises on the strict rules that govern complex activities in both public and private organisations (Talbot 2010). This theory resolves the question of who should address issues to whom, when, and how a task is to be done. The organisational structure is definite with rules and procedures giving managers the right to issue directives to workers. Even though it invites the notion of being managed through fear, threatened underutilisation of creativity, and decreased morale, communication plays a key role in levelling the situation. Cooperation of workers at lower order is ensured by the provision of wages and a career.
Through this reliability, organisations are in a position to run their activities and compete effectively. Managers acquainted with effective communication skills are able to alleviate such fears and engage the workforce towards maximising productivity. Charismatic leadership elicits a sense of trust by workers to their managers and it increases the will to conform. Bureaucracy embraces specialised training and workers have prior knowledge of what roles to take coupled with what the organisation expects of them in terms of performance. In addition, it embraces written rules, which promote reputation and legitimate leadership, thus enhancing efficient operation of the organisation. In the modern workplace, Weber’s ideas are being embraced since many organisations are guided by numerous rules and different structures of bureaucracies.
Fayol’s administrative theory seeks to provide organisations with knowledge on how managers should tackle their leadership roles in a bid to ensure that they can predict and control the workers’ behaviour effectively (Talbot 2010). Unlike Taylor, Fayol acknowledges that workers need more than wages in a bid to perform optimally. For instance, social justice, equity, and democratic rights to express own views are some of the aspects that motivate workers. Since an organisation includes workers of diverse races, religions, or gender, the role of the management is to ensure justice and equity in a bid to increase the individual’s belief in the system. This move in return helps managers in planning, organising, and controlling the workers since they have the authority to give orders. In the contemporary organisations, Fayol’s principles of management are viewed as the key elements of modern leadership. Planning to involve workers in decision-making, giving them fair wages for services, and embracing their initiatives can help organisations to grow (Smith 2007).
Classical theories emphasised on the structure with deep focus on what is good for a firm. This aspect reflects the general good of the people by giving their best for the firm they sacrificed their personal interests for the well-being of the entire society. Even though classical theorists overlooked the majority of human aspects of organisational engagement, it is the mandate of the modern management to borrow the aspects that take care of the worker as well as the organisation. However, organisations should initiate training programmes that equip the workers with relevant standards that favour the organisations’ growth (Detert & Treviño 2010). This move can eradicate the idea of time wasting and work with the management in fostering the culture of productivity.
Historical perspective: the case of Ford
The experiences of human activities highlight the view of history as an organisational resource showing how theoretical perspectives were developed and adopted in the management science. In the course of the early 20th century, Fredrick Winslow Taylor designed important management and organisational models that had a significant impact and promoted economic opportunities in business (Dopson, Earl & Snow 2008). His ideas of management applied to both small and large organisations for profit and non-profit entities. Taylor’s ideas largely defined contemporary ways of production and structural organisation. For example in the case of Henry Ford in his early days in the automobile industry, his workers collectively engaged in teams to assemble cars.
Ford identified the process as expensive and time-consuming, and thus he sought to employ management theories by hiring Taylor to seek alternative solutions. Taylor’s principles of management theory emphasised that individual employees would be motivated to produce more if they were engaged in tasks that matched their individual expertise (Dopson, Earl & Snow 2008). He referred to this aspect as division of labour, which encouraged specialisation. His proposition was well suited since it would alleviate unnecessary movement by workers, save time, and result in increased production. Ford realised the benefits of the management principles, which saw the engineering breakthrough and cost of production reduced.
In an effort to understand organisations, the political systems play a major role that adds to the overall view on how societies define firms. Political influence is defined as the process of applying power and authority to implement goals and the major issues that affect social structures (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006). The political parameters take the distribution of power and control as determining the organisational issues. The basic or usual organisation of a firm is altered due to those in political power to suit their interests. This goal is achieved through political appointees in positions of influence. Decision-making is altered due to powerful interest entities involved in fulfilling strategic motives such as power dominance. Workers find themselves in situations that compel them to obey by orders of their bosses (Detert & Treviño 2010).
Managers demonstrate a certain degree of dictatorship, since they tend to command the workers’ beliefs and feelings. This aspect reduces workers to robots who are subjected to taking commands coming from their leaders. For instance, in the United States just like in most other nations, decision-making in the education sector is largely influenced by key players in politics (Weiss et al. 2001). In 2002, the electorate voted for new members in the Kansas school board to replace the state’s existing board, which had avoided the inclusion of biological evolution in the curriculum. The new board was ready to include the biological evolution to the curriculum. Public officials used their positions of power to initiate changes that favour particular reforms.
Culture underscores a malleable structure of an institution that can grow and develop through influences to bring value to an organisation. Culture involves set of norms, practices, and beliefs that are shared within a certain organisation. Both internal and external factors are critical in determining the kind of culture that persists within a certain organisation. Internal factors include the set rules, vision, and mission statements, hierarchical composition, and goals of the organisation (Smith 2007). The external factors may involve competition from other firms, political parties, and religious institutions among other actors. In many established organisations, it is hard to influence or alter the existing culture. Managing to alter an organisation’s culture requires the knowledge to identify the components that design and enhance the culture and whether changing those aspects may have useful cultural development.
Therefore, when initiating a certain culture, managers should be aware that once the workers adopt a specific culture, it will greatly influence the productivity of that organisation. For instance, if workers adopt the culture of soldiering on, it becomes hard for the management to change it when the need to increase productivity arises. However, managers can take certain measures if the need to change the culture becomes inevitable. For instance, when Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford Motor, joined the organisation in 2006, the culture was decaying. However, by the time he was quitting in July 2014, he had revived the culture and reputation. Mulally led by example and acknowledged every worker’s contribution. He organised weekly meetings for team members to know each other and this aspect provided the platform to share one vision and communicate the way to execute it.
Leading by example has been the philosophy of successful leaders. For example, when Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, many people including those who did not know him expressed a deep sense of loss because he had motivated many people through combining personal attributes with business practices. Apart from his contribution to Apple, Jobs assisted in the creation of a culture that embraced success and believed in “possibilities no matter the odds” (Pearce 2011). In the process, he influenced the attitudes of many workers across the world. He became a role model to many, not only aspiring leaders, but also junior workers who aim at exploiting their capabilities to realise their full potential. This kind of productive culture is only attainable and sustainable if the management encourages desired moral values such as justice and equity for all workers (Weick 2001).
Globalisation is defining the contemporary work environment, which means that management is becoming a complex issue. Therefore, every actor in the workplace, viz. managers, workers, and political systems should improve their understanding of organisations. Sense-making in an organisation develops when stakeholders realise that they are faced with fundamental decisions to make and shape the organisations’ productivity. As identified through this paper, understanding the external and internal structures of an organisation helps leaders to create meaning of their organisations, thus facilitating other managerial tasks such as visioning and coordinating. By doing this, organisations will be in a position to undo all odds and make essential breakthroughs to prosperity.
Detert, J & Treviño, L 2010, ‘Speaking up to higher ups: How supervisors and skip-level leaders influence employee voice’, Organisation Science, vol.21, no.1, pp. 249–270.
Dopson, S, Earl, M & Snow, P 2008, Mapping the management journey: Practice, theory, and context, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Hatch, M & Cunliffe, A 2006,Organisation theory: Modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Pearce, L 2011,Status in management and organisations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Schermerhorn, J 2004,Core concepts of management, Wiley, Hoboken.
Shafritz, J & Ott, J 2005, Classics of organisation theory, Thomson/Wadsworth, Belmont.
Smith, C 2007, Making sense of project realities: Theory, practice and the pursuit of Performance, Aldershot, London.
Talbot, C 2010, Theories of performance: Organisational and service improvement in the public domain, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Weick, K 2001, Making sense of the organisation, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford.
Weiss, I, Knapp, M, Hollweg, K & Burrill, G 2001, Investigating the influence of standards: A framework for research in mathematics, science, and technology education, National Academy Press, Washington DC.