At the heart of any successful organization, you’ll find good managers who are making important decisions every day. Managers make sure that projects are completed, that work is of the highest possible quality, that employees are motivated and engaged, and that policies and procedures are followed. In fact, managers do so many things that management is more a series of key skill sets rather than one specific role. Good management is the use of key skills and practices correctly applied at the right time to help the organization reach its highest potential.
The good news is that management skills can be learned and improved. Throughout this course, we’ll explore specific strategies for honing your management skills. While there’s a range of key management skills and practices, they fall into mainly three areas: Managing performance, managing people, and managing the business. Within each of these areas are specific competencies. I’ve included a handout in the exercise file so that you can assess your abilities in each of these areas. I recommend that you complete it before we continue. Throughout the course, we’ll delve into each of the competencies and I’ll cover strategies you can use to improve your effectiveness as a manager.
It’s important to understand that management has come a long way since its initial roots. Management was conceived during the Industrial Revolution when factories necessitated organizing the work of large groups of people. Early management theories focused on controlling workers. There was an assumption that people inherently resisted work and needed to be prodded or even forced to do a good job. Management occurred by using power over workers through structures like hierarchy, bureaucracy and punishments to create productivity. But we’ve come a long way since the 1800’s and over time, management has evolved.
The efforts of the labor movement and key legal decisions certainly have done a lot to humanize the workplace, making it safer for people, both physically and emotionally. And our economies have changed. The age of information and technology has radically transformed what work is and how it’s accomplished. And globalization has redefined where we access our customers, suppliers and even employees. Many organizations also discovered that how they treated their employees had an impact. Companies who treated their employees well saw higher productivity, reduced turnover, and even less sick time, which translated to huge cost savings.
In addition, they discovered that happy employees treat customers better and are more creative, leading to product innovations. This has been driven home by the modern generations of workers, especially Generation X and Millennials who have come to expect more from their jobs than just a paycheck. They vote with their feet, making the cost of recruitment and retention of good workers a high priority, even during economic slumps. Now I don’t want to imply that autocratic management is a thing of the past. You can still find it being used, especially by older managers and leaders.
But you’ll find that organizations that are thriving are doing so because they’ve embraced the latest revolution in management, which is to focus on motivating and engaging employees and customers alike. There are several key areas of management that have shifted over the years. One area is how decisions get made and implemented. Organizations are moving away from hierarchy based on authority and power and instead tapping into the wisdom and expertise of people at all levels of the organization. This yields better decisions and increases engagement.
Another area is how activities are coordinated across the organization. Instead of using bureaucracy and rigid roles, organizations are moving to more agile and nimble models that allow them to make changes quickly. In today’s fast paced world, managers are giving employees more autonomy and independence. The third area is how employee performance is measured. Rather than focusing on narrow markers of achievement, organizations are focusing more on competencies that support a wide range of successful outcomes. In addition, managers are stepping away from the reward and punishment model of motivation and tapping into how people are intrinsically motivated.
This yields increased productivity and engagement. What does this all mean for you? Well, it means that your success can be enhanced by learning and implementing modern management strategies, knowing how to better manage performance, people and the business will pay off for you in numerous ways. As you become known as a great manager, you’ll also reap direct benefits in your career as your tapped for future opportunities in leadership.