Primary Functions and Required Skills for Management Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Skills and Functions for Management

For a manager to succeed in his or her job role they must blend complex managerial skills and functions with the managerial role. This paper will discuss the development of the management role, the definition of management, management functions and roles to help the reader discern how combining the functions, skills and behaviors of management leads to success within the workplace. The paper will also explain how management continues to change with changes in organizations and in the workforce. Management has transformed from a science to an art form that requires an increasingly complex set of skills and competencies among managers to not only manage change but also teach employees how to do the same.

Development of Management

Early management theory developed as a science suggesting that management was something that could be analyzed and interpreted based on scientific principles. Early human relations theorists focused on scientific explanations of management within business organizations therefore rather than focusing on social issues (Henderson, 1996). Two men in particularly, Frederick Taylor and Henri Fayol are noted for their studies in human relations and management. Frederick Taylor is often referred to as the "father of scientific management," and became the first person to approach management using analytical tools and by examining productivity issues (Henderson, 1996; Fairholm, 1998). Fayol, similarly referred to as the "father of management" is often credited with first publicizing uniform principles of management (Henderson, 1996; Fairholm, 1998).

Taylor specifically focused on techniques of management using scientific principles, suggesting that management was something that was measurable, precise and repeatable (Fairholm, 1998: 5). Other researchers that followed including Elton Mayo Hawthorne asserted that management involved human relations above other scientific factors and adequate understanding of group dynamics. Classic studies in management evolved to examine interpersonal concepts and human relations. Eventually researchers came to the assumption that it is important to understand group interactions, norms and activities in order to understand management roles, functions and principles (Henderson, 1996; Wren, 1994).

Today one can see that management has grown into a professional field that incorporates attention to important concepts as management development, professional management and evaluation of the management environment (Miller & Vaughan, 2001). There are new challenges that managers today face that incorporate more abstract thinking and more attention to change management and interpersonal relationships. Managers working in today's environment can no longer focus only on the techniques of management as tangible or measurable functions but must also focus on interpersonal skills and social relationships.

Define Management

Throughout history management has been defined in multiple ways. Many people define management as leadership (Fairholm, 1998). Using this definition one may consider management nothing more than an extension of good leadership, or the work of leaders that set up models through which tasks are accomplished and handled. Others have suggested that leadership is the foundation for management, which is a combination of the skills, functions and roles an individual needs to master to inspire others and accomplish certain work tasks (Fairholm, 1998). Management may involve using this definition tasks and techniques. The role of managers may include leading others to perform tasks in a timely and controlled manner.

Management Functions

A manager has many functions including controlling, planning and programming activities within the organization (Fairholm, 1998). It is also the role of a manager to perform operational tasks to ensure that organizational objectives are met in a timely fashion. Researchers including Urwick (1937) have defined various functions managers serve from a scientific perspective including planning, organizing, staffing, direction, coordination, reporting, budgeting, and quality control (Fairholm, 1998:8). The skills are more technical in nature and require that managers engage in task related functions. These functions are simply what managers must do in the course of a day, focus on tasks and technique to achieve organizational goals. Fayol suggests that management also sustains certain principles which include authority and responsibility, discipline, unity of direction, remuneration of personnel, centralization, initiative and order or ensuring things are in proper order (Fairholm, 1998: 9).

This suggests a managers functions are more specific and detailed than an organizations functions, which may simply include finance, engineering, marketing or sales (Fairholm, 1998). Managers are considered with actions whereas the organization as a whole focuses on processes (Fairholm, 1998).

Management Roles

A manager also serves many roles within the organization. The managers roles include interpersonal job functions like helping employees develop communication and behavioral skills that will result in getting a certain task or job performed within a designated time frame (Fairholm, 1998). Management roles also include disseminating information to the organization and people and making decisions. Management hence relies on scientific factors as Taylor suggests like "internal logical consistency, repeatability and subordination" (Fairholm, 1998: 5).

Management roles include defining the quality of ones work, appraising employees and assessing their skills, documenting skills and performance for future promotions or job roles, administering disciplines, managing communications, paying and compensating employees among other roles (Fairholm, 1998: 20).

Mixing Functions and Behaviors

A manager is not able to simply carry out functions or perform certain roles. Rather a manager must combine these traits to ensure that the organization is capable of meeting objectives and productivity needs. These roles are also combined to ensure that employees are motivated and empowered to succeed in the workplace. A manager must carry out task oriented activities while at the same time handling interpersonal communications and disseminating information to subordinates to ensure the chain of information passes from the top down and across an organization. A manager's role includes motivating and inspiring people but also managing people and performing organizational tasks within the scope of organizational strategy (Fairholm, 1998).

Motivation enables employees to focus energy on their work and working efficiently. Mangers roles include performing in an ethical manner and ensuring that leadership excellence occurs within the organizational environment. A mangers roles must be combined with a managers functions which include carrying out the strategic objectives of the organization to ensure that organizational and individual objectives are met. Controlling, planning and programming activities must still be carried out whilst a manager works to collaborate with employees and teams to ensure the organization delivers what it needs to in order to sustain business.

Applying Knowledge on the Job

Champy (1996) suggests that managers can improve their performance by delegating more responsibility across the organization and throughout the enterprise. The author suggests that management of today faces many challenges including loss of authority and control in a reengineered work environment. Managers are starting to think outside of the traditional box and reevaluate their ideas on values, culture and leadership. Interestingly this concept falls inline with the notion of management development. Management has changed with time, moving from a more scientific approach to a more human relations or sociological approach. It is time once again for managers to step back and develop.

Buckingham & Coffman (1999) point out that standard approaches or rules to management no longer apply. Managers today must adapt their roles and functions to focus on moving people in the organization toward performance, rewarding people for their expertise on the job and accomplishments. The author suggests that manager's roles and functions include finding the best job fit for employees, focusing on employee strengths, defining or determining the best results for the organization to help foster achievement and selecting the right talent to get the job done. Management no longer involves simple scientific analysis. Management is not simply a combination of skills and knowledge, but rather a mixture of a manager's ability to blend his function and roles to empower employees to achieve their best and help the organization meet its directives.

Management today is more a social art than it is a science (Drucker, 2001) though it is still important that managers understand the tasks and…

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