There are four main functions of management: planning; organizing; motivating; and controlling. Planning includes duties such as setting goals and objectives, providing corporate vision, strategy, resource and budget considerations. Organizing functions include procedures, hiring and firing, chains of command, job specifications, matters of design and physical location. Motivating deals with benefits, communication in both directions, rewards, salaries and leadership. Controlling does not mean getting complete and total compliance from employees. Controlling actually refers to directing, checks and balances, quality assurance, audits, and assessments.
Many people enter management positions with only a vague idea of what a manager actually does. Some think that it means that they can do whatever they want to those underneath them, basically a slave-master relationship. Many of these people have what Douglas McGregor called a Theory X view of workers: people only work because they are forced to. I have worked under a few Theory X managers and I think that there are three main varieties of Theory X managers: the true Theory X believers, the control freaks, and the control freak true believer. The attitude that seems to identify a Theory X true believer is one of resignation or duty-bound. These are the type of supervisors who think they have to goad people to work, but do not get any pleasure from it. They also will only do what upper management tells them and get very nervous when there are not set guidelines to follow. The control freaks, on the other hand, are ruled by the belief that they are not doing their jobs unless they have total control of their employee's actions. These people will change things constantly to prove to themselves that they are in control, sometimes with absolutely no consideration of how those changes will affect work production. “Because I am your boss,” is a justification often given for these changes. Whether or not someone will do their job without being prodded is inconsequential to them. If anything, they do realize that some people will work without supervision and see this as a threat to their “power”. Such mavericks might take their jobs and must be brought to the same level of broken spirit as the other workers. At the same time, these managers pay little to no attention to upper management, feeling that they know better than anyone else what is best for the department. The control freak true believer is a little easier to deal with. This type of manager, at least, pays attention to the demands of management and is less erratic than the pure control freak. However, they have the uncanny ability to make the most empowering upper management initiative into another means of micromanaging and will even go as far as trying to force creativity and feedback from their workers, often without giving the workers a chance to think on the matter. Most Theory X managers use what Situational Management theory calls a telling management style, with an occasional foray into the selling management style.
According to McGregor, Theory Y managers believe that people will work willingly if they enjoy their jobs. I do not have as much experience with Theory Y managers. The ones I have worked with though, seem to fall into two categories: the cheerleader and the hands-off manager. The cheerleader interacts frequently with their workers, asks questions, gives pep-talks and “atta-girls”. They sometimes resemble a whirling dervish as they come through the workplace. In situational management, they are considered to be using either the selling or participating management styles. The hands-off manager sits the employee down, explains what is needed, asks if there is anything the employee needs for the task and then dismisses the employee to go do the work with a reminder to let the manager know if a problem comes up. This type of manager is far more likely to use the delegating style of situational management, using the participating style when necessary. I did have one Theory Y manager who did the cheerleader and the hands-off method. He started off as the cheerleader and as the employee showed their abilities, he would use whichever version was more productive with them. Actually, there was one employee that he did do Theory X managing with. She was mentally unable to do tasks without step by step instructions. However once she was trained, then she could be left alone as long as the procedures were not changed. If one was changed, then she had to be closely supervised for months or she would revert back to the previous procedure. One time she was so flustered by a series of changes in our workplace that she reverted back to the original procedures she had been taught over ten years before, which were very obsolete and incompatible with the newer equipment. Our manager became very frustrated with her and ended up giving another employee the task of supervising her work.
According to Fredrick Herzberg, people have two main needs at work. The first most Americans think of is motivation, but there is another just as important, if not more. Getting the best from workers requires a manager to consider not only how they motivate people, but the conditions of the workplace. These conditions, or hygiene factors, include policies and administration, supervision, working conditions, interpersonal relations, money, status and security. These factors rarely motivate workers to work harder, but their absence or poor condition of will make workers less productive. Motivation actually comes from achievement, recognition for accomplishment, challenging work, increased responsibility, growth and development, but without the workplace hygiene needs being met, these motivating factors are severely compromised.
But what type of managing gives the highest productivity and payoff? If one wants true success, then we need to examine the theories of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. The younger generations may not remember that at one time “Made in Japan” had the same reputation as “Made in China” does today - that is “cheap and of low quality”. In fact, most people now see “Made in Japan” as an indication of very high quality workmanship. What caused this change was Deming's theories and research. So successful was his approach to management, that Japan's highest award for quality is named after him.
Dr. Deming was a statistician with degrees in engineering, physics and mathematics. He analyze productivity and quality methods and determined what was most successful in improving both. His results were first rejected by American industrialists, who could not see that their dominance in the world industrial theater was due more to their technological edge than actual management practices. Post War World II Japan, however, welcomed him when they needed to rebuild their industry and realized it was going to take more than just mass producing cheap stuff to do it.
Deming put together a list of the 14 Points for Management, which lead to the Five Deadly Diseases that Can Destroy an Organization:
- Lack of constancy of purpose. People have no idea of the organization's main purpose for existing. There is no planning for the future.
- Emphasis on the short term profit. Bottom line focus causes sacrifice of long term growth in a drive to show a profit now.
- Performance Reviews/Merit Systems. Ruins teamwork by bringing destructive influences and competition into the department. Ends up more as a lottery, where the rewards are often arbitrary and unjust. Destroys motivation and encourages fear.
- Mobility of Management. People in management positions move around too frequently. Promoted from the outside, these managers don't have any real roots in the organization and often lack understanding of certain problems. Also makes it able for one manager to succeed using destructive short term methods and leave before the problems inherent to those methods come to light.
- Use of visible figures only. The mistaken belief that any quantity that cannot be accurately measured can be safely ignored. These quantities include things like customer satisfaction and long term payoffs. Leads to creative accounting practices and putting the stock holders interests before anything else.
While only five deadly diseases were addressed in the video shown in class, a search on the Internet provided two more: 6) Excessive medical costs and 7) Excessive costs of warranty, fueled by lawyers that work on contingency. Though one can argue that these two are actually part of the invisible figures not considered in the fifth disease. It is possible that these are listed separately in many workshops to give them proper attention.
American companies are still slow to adapt to Deming's theories, but there have been successes by companies whose management have echoed his ideas. Tom Peters cover some stunning examples in his videos and workshops. Two of the most memorable are Harley Davidson's amazing comeback from bankruptcy to being a leader in motorcycle quality in a span of a few years; and Ralph Stayer's revolutionary management of Johnsonville foods, taking an already successful business and spurring it into greater heights by empowering and trusting his employees.
Deming's influence can also be seen in the Zapp! series by William Byham, where people are encouraged to empower each other by avoiding the seeds of the Five Diseases by being quality focused and replacing arbitrary reward systems with personal satisfaction and growth. This shift towards Deming's ideas and the push towards empowerment comes from American industry's need to evolve. Like people, Maslow's hierarchy of needs are present in societies too. Long past are the days when people worked only to survive and have security. Social interaction is also a need that has been satisfied. We as a society are yearning for self-actuation and any company that wishes to tap into the power of their workers needs to adjust their culture to meet that need. These methods do not remove quality control, they internalize it.
Yet, perhaps that is a narrow view of these concepts, for Japan was far from “self-actualization” when Deming introduced his ideas. His work and the works of others have shown that it is possible to introduce these concepts to workers who are initially not ready for delegated responsibilities, as long as there is a training and practice period as presented by William Byham's Zapp! philosophy. Ideally, there is no need for a company to stumble and crawl up the mountain of success, when with some training and faith the company can fly to the summit and beyond.