Mangement Practices Review Essay Example

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Management Practice Review 8

Management Practices Review

Executive Summary

Management constitutes the strategizing, the organizing, recruiting and selecting, providing leadership and controlling the entities within a firm in a bid to achieve set goals and objectives. Decision making forms a critical role in developing and implementing strategies meant to enhance a firm’s competitiveness and help in attainment of anticipated outcomes. The nature of managerial work has evolved to encompass team building, elimination of internal barriers and developing organizational resources that are unique, rare, and inimitable and quality to ensure the vision and mission of firms are realized. This report seeks to explicitly examines the similarities and differences between the theory and practice of the methods of decision making employed in the communication firm I work for and the changing nature of managerial work.

Table of Contents

2Executive Summary

3Introduction

4Principles and theoretic explanations related to methods of decision making

4Methods of decision-making used in the communication firm

5Brainstorming 1.

6SWOT analysis 2.

6PESTEL analysis 3.

6Pros and cons method and the simple prioritization method 4.

7Changing Nature of managerial work

9Application of methods of decision making in the communication firm

12The antecedents of methods of decision making at the communication firm

13Assessment of multiple methods of decision making

15Conclusion

15Recommendations

16References

Introduction

Management plays a significant role in an institution, organization and in the government in designing and sustaining an environment through which the labor forces or a group of people work cohesively and are able to effectively and efficiently, attain anticipated outcomes by appropriately allocating and utilizing available resources (Witzel, 2005). Among resources managed by a firm includes materials resources, financial, capital, information, knowledge, technology and the human resources as highlighted by (Harold & Heinz, 1993).

The management practices, principles and systems have gradually but steadily evolved due to rapid cutthroat competition in the market environment and complexity of running rapidly growing business as highlighted by (Kerzner, 2009). Competition has led to advancement in technology, obsolescence, rising capital investments and elimination of market barriers resulting in market liberalization while complexity has been initiated by rapid business expansions, increased level of division of labor and specialization, rivalry among differing firms and stringent government business regulations. In the communication firm I work for, the similarities between theory and practices in the management practices greatly compare.

The report will analyze and evaluate the similarities and differences between theory and practice of the methods of decision making employed in the communication firm I work for and the changing nature of managerial work. The report will explain the principles and theoretic explanations related to methods of decision making and changing nature of managerial work, key aspects of practices manifest in the communication firm and highlight the antecedents of the same in the communication firm. In addition, critically assess whether the methods of decision making and changing nature of managerial work practices are optimal for the firm in terms of its explicit or implied strategic goals.

Principles and theoretic explanations related to methods of decision making

At the communication firm, the decision making process and the nature of the managerial work have contributed immensely to not only solving current business issues and challenges, but also in developing new ideas and strategies to help improve quality of services provided to the clients and effecting organization change. In addition, developing, implementing and evaluating the most suitable policies and strategies to help shape organization behavior and interrelationships among employees in varied organizational structures and enhancing the competitive edge and innovativeness of the firm as supported by (Michael, et al., 1997). This is crucial in strategically placing the firm in the market environment, mitigating and managing risks, effectively meeting the needs of the customer and countering market competition (Wiig, 2004). The nature of managerial work at the communication firm no longer focuses on maintaining the status quo, but emphasizes the need for creativity, flexibility and growth of resources and capabilities. Managers no longer dictate orders, but are actively involved in communicating the plans and strategies of the firm to the employees and aligning the internal environment to the external environment.

Methods of decision-making used in the communication firm

According to Santanen, et al., (2004), decision-making is a basis for solving problems where problem solving and decision making requires deliberation and creativity in establishing and generating alternatives. In order to make efficient and quality decisions, there are basic steps that are identified by Salaman (2001) and which are practiced at the communication firm. The steps include identifying the objective and the anticipated result which is critical in allowing the management to know what needs to be accomplished and thereby, limit deviations and collecting adequate information to enable the management develop a way out. Facilitation of a brainstorming processes to generate varied ideas and options ensued as indicated by Bhushan & Rai (2004). The other step in making a decision is highlighting the benefits and limitations of each option generated, where options that have more disadvantages than advantages are discarded (Koller, 2005).

This is followed by making the decision by selecting the option with the most benefits with few limitations, the most cost-effective one and the one with support from the majority of the team members and implementation of decision selected. Finally, learning from and reflecting on the decision making process as highlighted by Wiig (2004). This is essential in evaluating what was done correctly or wrongly and making necessary changes in future decision making processes.

At the communication company, there are varied methods of decision making that are used depending on the objective, issue, urgency and complexity of the situation that requires a decision to be made.

    1. 1. Brainstorming

The communication firm practice brainstorming. According to Dennis & Valacich (1993), brainstorming refers to the process of generating multiple ideas within a short period by a group of people meant to provide a basis to make a decision or solve a problem. Brainstorming has the potential to improve the creative productivity of people especially in generating new and innovative ideas.

In practice, during the brainstorming process within the communication firm, the management defines the problem; a background memo is made, sent to participants that contain the session title, problem statement, time, date and venue. The facilitator, participants consisting of personnel with ample knowledge on the problem and personnel exterior to the project and the idea collector constitutes the brainstorming group as highlighted by Bhattacharya (2009). A list of appropriate questions is set and the brainstorming session and idea collection ensues. After the process, evaluation is made.

    1. 2. SWOT analysis

The communication firm also conducts a SWOT analysis as method of making decisions. In SWOT analysis, the firm is able to analyze its strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities as discussed by Bohm (2009). In so doing, the decision makers within the communication firm formulate and implement strategies that will amplify the existing strengths, ameliorate the current weaknesses, capitalize on the existing gaps and opportunities in the market and mitigate any potential threats and risks currently or in the future, that may face the firm.

    1. 3. PESTEL analysis

In conducting PESTEL analysis, the firm assesses the external environment influencing the firm. This includes analyzing the current political factors, environmental factors, social elements, and technological factors, economical and legal factors (Campbell, et al., 2002).

Ullman (2006), establishes that effective decision making is based on implementation of a blend of skills that comprises of creative growth, recognition of alternatives, clarity of decisions, decisions’ firmness and efficient and effectual establishment of decision formulated. The communication firm practices this.

    1. 4. Pros and cons method and the simple prioritization method

The firm uses the pros and cons decision-making methods which entails assessing and evaluating a list of decisions and strategies developed by identifying the benefits and limitations of each and selecting the one with least limitations but with highest number of benefits / pros. alternatively, the communication firm uses simple prioritization where the option with the highest probability- subjective value for every option or derivative is selected.

Changing Nature of managerial work

Managerial work involves the planning, directing, the structuring and controlling of the organization’s resources. For profit making enterprises, the management is tasked with the role of effectively, efficiently satisfying the shareholder by generating more profits, producing quality products and services that are cost effective for the customers and rewarding, and developing the labor forces (Schermerhorn, 2010). In non-profit making organizations, the management is charged with improving the confidence and trust in existing donors to ensure they continue investing and for potential sponsors, to ensure they start investing in the organization as indicated by Nelson & Quick (2007).

Theoretically according to N.A.P. N.R.C. & C.T.E.H.P. (1999), the managerial work is changing as technical advancement that improves the competence with which information is processed has the potential to minimize demand for managers. Nevertheless, it is important to note that regardless of the increased technical uptake by organizations, the part that managers play in generating innovative and creative ideas and insights about organizing available resources cannot be overemphasized as noted by Nelson & Quick (1996).

Managerial work is changing, as establishment of ad hoc workgroups are regular and the internal boundaries are eliminated. The change is attributed to divergence in cost cutting and empowerment according to Armstrong (2008) and centralization and decentralization. The cost-cutting vs. centralization concept, local autonomy is minimized while the very many forms of managers are discarded where the power is focused on the top and information technology and professional systems are used to manage (Armstrong, 2008). The empowerment vs. decentralization theory highlights a fusion of the internal barriers through communication structures and team building where managers are tasked with managing the new interrelationships (Nelson & Quick, 2007).

Traditionally, managerial work is positioned at the top of the vertical division of labor where more emphasis is placed on achieving set organizational objectives and vision where managers plan, direct, supervise and control resources. Even though the functions remain, the managerial work has shifted in the means the functions are performed and setting within which the managerial work is done. According to Schermerhorn (2010), traditionally, managerial work came with status, authority over junior employees and allocation of resources and had security of service but with company downsizing, flattened bureaucracies managerial work has shifted from authoritative systems to team based peer controls.

Organizing, planning and directing by managers in presently does not rely on rigid adherence to set rules and regulations and achieving short term goals, but more on dedication and loyalty to achieving anticipated outcomes, setting sustainable success business strategies, teamwork and effective and efficient satisfaction of the needs and expectations of the customers (Nelson & Quick, 2007). At the communication firm, managerial work is no longer supervisory but a reinforcement and development of the workgroups. Managers no longer structure policies, systems and programs vertically but horizontally to help integrate the efforts, accountability, participation and commitment from each individual in not only generating innovative ideas, but also in problem-solving and decision making processes as suggested by Harrison (1999).

To effectively, carry out managerial duties, managers not only need to be aware of what the organization needs and wants, but also require leadership abilities, analytical capacities, and integrative competency and have participatory proficiency (Nelson & Quick, 1996). This has been illustrated in practice at the communication firm where managerial work has changed from focusing on achieving the goals of the organization to understanding the goals of the internal environment and having good relationships with the external environment, which includes suppliers, marketers, intermediaries, customers, investors, labor and union groups.

Theoretically, the managerial work is not dependent on the participation of the senior management only but also active involvement by the workforce. In practice, this has been important in enhancing teamwork, commitment, hard work and accountability in attaining set organizational goals (Martin, 2006). At the firm, managerial work is much flexible and encourages the challenging of the status quo if it means improving productivity, performance, market shares, customer loyalty, brand image and competitiveness. Managers no longer dictate terms but they get involved in the actual operational and work processes.

Application of methods of decision making in the communication firm

In the communication firm, decision-making process receives a substantial amount of focus since, developing and implementing the wrong decisions translates to increased costs of operation, non-attainment of the short, middle and long-term goals, reduced competitiveness and reduced confidence of the brand by the investors and customers. Therefore, making the right decision is not an option for the firm.

As earlier discussed, the communication firm utilizes variety of methods in decision making that includes brainstorming, pros and cons, SWOT and PESTEL analysis and simple prioritization methods. The need for using alternative methods is due to increased need to involve as many stakeholders as possible and to ensure, every concerned party has an opportunity to contribute their opinions and ideas which not necessary solve the present challenges but help in solving future business issues.

Using multiple effective methods of decision making is a fertile ground for generating unique, inimitable and quality ideas which are helpful in increasing the organization’s innovativeness essential in mitigating merging business threats, meeting the changing needs, tastes, preferences and attitudes of the customer and increasing the firm’s uniqueness in countering market competition (Koller, 2005).

The decision making process in the communication firm is not concentrated at the senior management but integrates active participation of the management with the particular department or workgroup that needs a decision to be made. The firm’s culture on making decisions is that the opinion of each member should not be negatively criticized, respect for varied views and insights should form the basis of any decision making process and good ideas should be blended to make one better idea as suggested by Martin (2006).

The changing nature of managerial work is evident in the communication firm. Several years ago, the managerial work dictated directives to the subordinates and non-compliance to the directives led to punitive measures. There were division of labor, official regulations and policies were set, there was a hierarchy of authority and the relationships between various levels of the firm were impersonal as highlighted by N.A.P. N.R.C. & C.T.E.H.P. (1999). The manager supervised the utilization of the firm’s resources and the focus was on achieving the mission, vision, goals and objectives of the firm. Employees were not involved nor consulted in critical aspects of the management such as making decisions, effecting changes, solving problems and generating creativity. This type of management saw employees achieve set targets but registered increased job dissatisfaction; deteriorated employee morale, the communication flow among organizational structures fragmented and the employee turnover rates were so high, a point supported by Robert & Angelo (2001) .

However, the managerial work at the firm has changed as illustrated by increased adoption of technology to carry out functions such as information storage and retrieval, increased focus on aligning the internal environment to the external environment and enhancing good relationships with the external environment as suggested by Nelson & Quick (2007). In addition, increased emphasis on team building, elimination of internal barriers by adopting a horizontal matrix rather than the vertical systems used previously, and managers concern themselves more on communicating the strategies, policies and goals to the employees than on ensuring rules set are adhered to as suggested by Witzel (2005). The managers at the communication firm reward employees, coaches them, empowers them and encourage teamwork as a means of increasing work performance, accountability, commitment and making the employees own the goals set and exploit their best skills, knowledge and talents, rather than issuing threats and demands as a means to improve performance or achieve anticipated outcomes.

Managerial work as described by Thomas & Christopher (1993), has shifted from the top-down control, to creating teammates working towards a common goal where the manager is more project oriented than function oriented as they are more concerned with managing work flow than managing the human resources. The management at the communication firm is integrating new aspects of management to ease their responsibilities such as performance appraisal, knowledge management and total quality management.

However, senior managers and board of directors who are unwilling or fear to accommodate the necessary changes required to take the firm to the next level, have negatively impacted the managerial work at the communication firm. They are more comfortable with retaining the status quo since, they perceive they have more control and power over the resources and change, will divert power from them to the resources.

The antecedents of methods of decision making at the communication firm

The need for diverse methods of decision making as a managerial practice at the communication firm resulted from the increased failures experienced with adoption of one method of decision making. Initially, the senior management and the board of directors, who conducted quarterly meetings, discussed the best options that would fit in solving a particular problem or helping the firm move to the next level business-wise. Although the decisions made would realize some of the anticipated short term results, the management realized that majority of the long term goals were not achieved since they either the decisions made were not realistic, attainable and time bound or they were overcame by events over time.

The decision made were biased to favor the management and were made from a perception point of view instead of knowledge –based view, since the decision makers did not participate in the daily running of activities and had no idea what decision best suited what situation. Traditional managerial systems concentrate power and authority at the top level and the processes of making decisions and solving issues is made by a few as mentioned by Koller (2005).

The need to diversify the methods was seen as the most effective and cost-effective way of developing decisions that would help in increasing employee productivity, meeting the anticipated business strategies and help in involving the workforce. The numerous methods of decision-making has allowed the management to enhance collaboration among various firm’s stakeholders and it has allowed the individuals who have the experience of dealing with the situations on a daily basis to help in making effective and efficient decisions and options. This has helped the employees feel they belong and are part of the communication firm and has allowed them to commit and own the set goals, a point emphasized by Teale (2003). This has resulted in improved accomplishment of both short and long-term goals, increased work performance and generation of innovative ideas.

As earlier discussed, the changing nature of managerial work is evident in the communication firm. The shift has been from the traditional way of managing available firm’s resources, setting rigid control systems and focusing on rules, regulations, and hierarchies to enhancing systems and processes that promote teamwork and accountability. Additionally, eliminating internal boundaries, enhancing relations with external environment and managing workflow rather than managing people, has played a significant role in increasing work performance, competitiveness and production of quality services to satisfy the client (Martin, 2006).

The shift from bureaucratic systems of management to collaborative and flexible management systems and practices within the firm was necessitated by the need for flexibility needed to survive in the turbulent market environments and to improve the firm’s competitive edge. The human resources produced more, exploited their best skills and knowledge and were more committed when using the latter. Flexible managerial works culminates to increased adaptability, increased team work and performance by the organization as described by Kerzner (2009). As it is the human resources are able to manage themselves as highlighted by

Assessment of multiple methods of decision making

The decision making process at the communication firm is characterized by consultations and counter consultations between the management and the labor force. This is because, the labor forces are in a better position to identify alternatives that are more effective, realistic, attainable and adequate than others since they deal with the issues on a daily basis. The decision-making in the communication firm is a basis for solving problems and attaining set strategic goals that help sustain competitiveness, profitability and satisfaction of the needs of the customers (Teale, 2003).

The use of multiple methods of decision-making has been beneficial in generating multiple ideas and insights, which have been critical in enhancing innovativeness of the firm and ensuring all members of the workforce are included. This means majority of the set goals and objectives of the firm have been realized while the commitment, accountability, teamwork and loyalty by the employees caused by employee involvement in making decisions has increased.

The use of SWOT and PESTEL analysis not only helps the firm in knowing where they have come from, but also, they are able to make sustainable decisions based on their present business position and future prospects. They are able to base decisions on real business indicators and therefore, develop and implement decisions that are relevant to modern business environments.

However, the use of multiple methods sometimes consumes a lot of time, energy and resources used in consultations, setting up workshops and meetings, which would otherwise be, saved when using one method of decision-making. Despite that one shortcoming, the managerial practice of decision making at the communication firm has significantly boosted gains and achievement of set strategic goals.

The changing nature of managerial work at the communication firm has resulted in achievement of both short and long-term goals, as the employees and management see each other as team members working towards achieving a common goal. Focus is not only on adhering to set rules and regulations but also in establishing a favorable environment to facilitate teamwork, workflow, participation, commitment, structuring of organizational systems and meeting the goals of both the internal and external environments as illustrated by Robert & Angelo (2001). However, the management practice has not fully realized a complete overhaul, as some of the senior managers and board of directors prefer the traditional, bureaucratic way of facilitating managerial functions. Increased profitability and quality associated with the new outlook of managerial functions however, will help convince them to accommodate change.

Conclusion

The report has analyzed and evaluated the similarities and differences between theory and practice of the methods of decision making employed in the communication firm I work for and the changing nature of managerial work as managerial practices. The management practices in theory compare with their practice in the communication firm. The firm uses brainstorming, pros and cons, SWOT analysis, PESTEL analysis and simple prioritization as methods of decision-making. In the changing nature of managerial work, the firm has shifted from the traditional, bureaucratic view of management where the manager supervises the resources to modern managerial outlook where the manager is more concerned with enhancing teamwork within and without the firm and manages workflow rather than managing people.

Recommendations

  • The managerial team should embrace change and ensure that globalization and other modern issues are embraced.

  • Formulate and implement policies that ensures human resource understands the changing environment and what motivates them. This is based on difference in motivational factors.

  • The organization should decentralize some of its activities to ensure that a successful organization is formed and championed through out its life span.

References

Armstrong, M. (2008). How to Be an Even Better Manager: A Complete A-Z of Proven Techniques and Essential Skills. Singapore: Kogan Page Publishers.

Bhattacharya. (2009). THE DISCIPLINE OF BUSINESS MANAGEMENT: Leadership and Decision Making Strategies. New Delhi: Global India Publications.

Bhushan, N., & Rai, K. (2004). Strategic decision-making: applying the analytic hierarchy process. Montreal: Springer.

Bohm, A. (2009). The SWOT Analysis. Berlin: GRIN Verlag.

Campbell, D., Stonehouse, G., & Houston, B. (2002). Business Strategy. London: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2002 PESTEL

Dennis, A. R. & Valacich, J. S. (1993). «Computer Brainstorms: More Heads are Better than One,» Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 78, No. 4, pp. 531-537.

Harold, K. & Heinz, W. (1993). Management: A Global Perspective (10th Ed). New Jersey: McGraw Hill.

Harrison, E.F. (1999). The managerial decision-making process. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Kerzner, H. (2009). Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Koller, G.R. (2005). Risk assessment and decision making in business and industry: a practical guide. Stanford: Chapman & Hall/CRC.

Martin, G. (2006). Managing people and organizations in changing contexts. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Michael R. C., Daniel, F. J. & Christina, H. (1997). Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior. New Jersey. Prentice Hall.

Muller, R. (2010). Decision Making Process: Entrepreneurship in Today’s Society. Berlin: GRIN Verlag.

N.A.P. N.R.C. & C.T.E.H.P. (1999). The changing nature of work: implications for occupational analysis. London: National Academies Press.

Nelson, D.L. & Quick, J.C. (1996). Organizational behavior: the essentials. Washington DC: West Publications.

Nelson, D.L., & Quick, J.C. (2007). Understanding Organizational Behavior. New York: Cengage Learning EMEA.

Robert, K. & Angelo, K. (2001). Organizational Behavior (5th Ed). New Jersey: McGraw Hill.

Salaman, G. (2001). Decision making for business: a reader. Melbourne: SAGE.

Santanen, E., Briggs, R. O., & Vreede, G. J. (2004). Causal Relationships in Creative Problem Solving: Comparing Facilitation Interventions for Ideation. Journal of Management Information Systems. 20(4), 167-198.

Schermerhorn, J.R. (2010). Management. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Teale, M. (2003). Management decision-making: towards an integrated approach. London: Pearson.

Thomas G. C. & Christopher, G. W. (1993). Organization Development & Change (6th Ed). New York: International Thomson Publishing.

Ullman, D. G. (2006). Making Robust Decisions. New Trafford: Trafford.

Wiig, K.M. (2004). People-focused knowledge management: how effective decision-making leads to corporate success. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Witzel, M. (2005). Management: the basics. Sidney: J. Wiley.