For clear understanding of how managers and organisations operate today, I took the liberty of interviewing Ms. Sue Milhem, department manager of one of the top retail stores called, the House of Fraser (HOF). The outcome of the interview showed that HOF had both rules and regulations and it focused much on motivation. The organisation therefore ran under a bureaucratic as well as a human relation system. By bureaucracy, we mean that even tough HOF was very keen on discipline, ignored the concept of strict hierarchy of authority and job specialisation.
The hierarchy of authority was turned upside down with the customers and lower level staff being the most prominent for HOF. The organisation believed in the concept of multi skilled workers rather than specialists. This skill as surveyed was very important for their invaluable customers and for the creativity of staff. When asked about the most important factor for the organisation, HOF clearly believed in the best customer service and feedback for better performance. Another essential result of the interview was on the human relations approach that HOF used.
A modern view of human relations called the neo-human relations approach was adopted by HOF. They believed that the smooth functioning and the achievement of goals of the organisation could only be attained by motivated employees, especially those who worked on the floor i. e. the operatives. HOF’s preserved the values of employees and tried to create a very conducive environment to make the employees feel at home. Their strength for motivating employees came from taking feed back from employees, giving them appropriated breaks, interacting and respecting their opinion, taking their performance appraisals and empowering them.
As a manager of HOF, Ms. Sue Milhem believed that she managed teams rather than people. She considered herself to be a ‘team leader’ in lieu of a ‘manager,’ striving to achieve goals with efficient synergy. For the execution of HOF and the management of teams, she described the functions all the mangers performed. Like any other firm, HOF planned initially by looking at the performance of the previous year and forecasting for the following year or month. All the mangers set up a meeting in which they brainstormed, discussed and reached the final standard.
The supervisors were called upon another meeting to disseminate, discuss and rectify the plans if necessary. The most suitable plans were discussed again and the most appropriate one was organised and implemented. Proper feedback of the implementation would then take place from time to time. As commanding, the mangers of HOF believed in motivating their staff and influencing them rather than conducting various tools such as close control to their staff. These activities were then coordinated through distribution of work in different departments and getting the performance feedback every month.
Different forms of promotions, like advertising, were used to attract customers. Finally the control was done through checking the performance and sales regularly. If any deviation occurred then a research for the cause was conducted and corrections were done if necessary. Henry Mintzberg’s roles were more or less very applicable to the role played by Sue Millen in HOF. She identified her role as not just a senior figure of HOF but as a people’s person. She believed her basic role was to understand her employees in terms of their behaviour and work.
Being a senior manager she also had the role of monitoring the activities and disseminating messages to the workers. As a planner her role was to ensure adequate resources being utilised and handling any disturbance at hand. She also expressed her role of being an active listener, influencer and negotiator. Comparison of managerial roles Robert Owen’s textile company operated during the late seventies to mid eighties. During that time the managers of any organisation were concerned with mass productivity, which was achieved through intense control and supervision of workers.
It was a norm for each manager to form as rigid rules to the worker as possible. This led to major issues, such as ‘dishonesty, theft, embezzlement, immorality, drunkenness, temperament and devoid of truth’ employees. Moreover, these workers had ‘little or no experience of factory work’ and were illiterate. Throughout such a chaotic working environment, Robert when tried to motivate his staff as much as possible. He tried to play a role as a figurehead and leader by providing education to the worker’s children. He monitored the performance of the employees through the standard of work. He also imposed rigid rules and regulations.
His role as a manager can hence, be summarised as one that believed in flow of authority than negotiator. This role was applicable then, for there were various problems regarding the workers. This role however is a contrast from that of Global Instruments Corporation (GIC) and the HOF. Today, the world being advanced through technology and globalisation, the roles of managers have been more focused into customers and behaviour of employees. GIC’s manager’s major role was focused on sales and customers rather than productivity. The managers on GIC had a role as entrepreneur, changing the structure of organisations as the technology changed.
The managers were more influential than controlling. Rather than monitoring, managers of GIC focused on disseminating. HOF’s roles of managers, unlike Robert Owens were as an influencer, disseminator, entrepreneur and negotiator. Nature of Managerial Authority Another distinct change has been on the nature of authority amongst the organisations. This authority can be broken down as; power, authority, responsibility and delegation. During the early days these factors were centralised among the higher executive, but now they have been delegated. In Robert Owen’s case, all the power, authority, responsibility and delegation rested on him i.
e. the senior most manager. He had the power and authority to influence workers on working and developing rules of standard performance. He also had the sole responsibility of the organisation and its work. The authority delegation as very restricted to the lower levels. The decisions and plans were solely made by him, which showed the centralisation of authority. GIC being a company established by a group of people i. e. entrepreneurs, had their power and authority divided amongst themselves. The control and decisions were done by the higher authority.
This showed that there was a very clear line of authority, which later on shifted from managers to integrated teams. GIC being very much focused on sales had a very rigid delegation and responsibility. The responsibilities of the sales, the performance of work were all shouldered by the top managers. A very restricted delegation of power and authority existed in the organisation, which showed that authority was still centralised. The modern organisations however believe the flatter the structure the more beneficial. HOF being on of the modern organisations has its hierarchy of authority flowing from downwards rather than upwards.
The power and authority rested both on the management level and the operatives. There was a clear line of decentralisation of work and delegation of authority from top to bottom. The management decisions weren’t purely made by the high level executives but were influenced by lower level staff as well. This meant that even the operative’s opinions were considered while making decisions, which lead to a clear line of responsibility. The concept of empowering workers was much used to generate opportunities to take up new challenges. The flow of delegation of authority was clear since there was a wider span of control.
As an account of my understanding, I believe that if any organisation is to operate properly, it will have to analyse the evolution of the systems of management, consider all the different benefits that different changes have and alter its structure accordingly. The major element of this change being technology and the surrounding environment. In today’s competitive world of enhancing technologies and environment, if any organisation won’t respond to them will not be able to gain commercial survival let alone attain some portion of the market share.
Another key factor for the organisations today is to understand their work force, which can be an asset as well as a liability of the company. The continuation of the traditional structure leads to nothing but isolation. And we all know that none of the organisations can survive in isolation. The most useful and applicable theory for today’s environment might be the systems approach, which looks into not just the organisation but also the outside environment threatening change; and the human relations approach, which analyses employees as people not factors of production.
Moreover, the Henry Ford management style of massive production and job specialisation, if utilised even today, will lead to nothing but the liquidation of the company. Now days there is more to management than just productivity, which Jack Welsh has so closely implemented the concept the managers use widely today are that of multi-skilled employees and proactive organisations.