This paper will provide a review of different historical perspectives on the relationship between people and organizations. Each of these theories has something valuable to offer, therefore these theories should be applied as an integrated model. For example, Taylor’s model of Scientific Management, apart from being the basis for all the modern theories of management, is still widely applied in different settings. In a contemporary organization, employees tend to perform tasks at the slowest rate possible. This is a characteristic feature of the repetitive jobs (Taylor, 2004).
The measures proposed by Taylor more than a century ago are still widely applied, e.g. defining the fastest working and the most committed employee to set him as an example or standard for the rest to follow. It is useful to utilize the system of money premiums suggested by Taylor (2004) to praise the workers who have shown high levels of commitment and productivity.
Another principle of scientific management that is widely applied in contemporary organizations is a ‘scientific’ approach to training and task division. That is, employees are assigned specific tasks, which they are obliged to fulfill. Training happens under the supervision of senior management: although the employees are encouraged to use available resources for self-development, professional training occurs only using the specific set of tools developed for this purposes. Training activities are design to both match the individual needs of the workers and maximize the efficiency of the organization. The most committed and best trained workers usually get further promotion, so the incentives are not solely financial. This relates to yet another perspective on management.
The results of the Hawthorne experiments made researchers interpret the organizational behavior in an innovative way and form the Human Relation School. Hawthorne Studies discovered the fact that workers were unlikely to respond to classical motivational approaches as suggested in the Scientific Management and Taylor approaches.
Elton Mayo, who is one of the founders of the Human Relations School is reported to ‘[have] developed an elaborate theory of the relationship between working conditions and workers’ mental states and their impact on productivity and industrial relations’ (Gillespie, 1993, p.71).
Following the assumptions of the Human Relations School that social factors are more important than financial, it is necessary to pay extra attention to the psychological climate in organizations. A manager having problems with employee satisfaction should perhaps apply the principles of the Human Relations School, with its focus on ‘sociopsychological determinants of morale and efficiency’ (Henderson, 1996, p.24).
Administrative Management was the next step in the development of management theory. Specialization of labor, authority, discipline, unity of command, unity of direction, subordination of individual interests, centralization, order, equity, and lifetime employment of good workers are the key principles of Administrative Management.
Systems Theory is also useful, mostly for the purposes of evaluation and optimization of the functioning of organizations. Systems Theory is easily applicable at any workplace, since the division of organizations into subsystems is logical and clear. Therefore, it is convenient to track the development of different subsystems and functional interactions between them.
One of the most recent trends in managing people in an organization is Total Quality Management. There is little consensus among researchers and practitioners concerning the most appropriate definition of Total Quality Management (TQM). This practice is defined by the UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (2000) as ‘a way of managing people and business processes to ensure complete customer satisfaction at every stage, internally and externally’ (p. 1).
The key focus of this approach is on producing quality goods or delivering satisfactory services on the first try rather than correcting mistakes. In order to implement TQM, changes have to be made to people, processes and systems of an organization. These changes encompass commitment to quality among both leaders and employees, communication of the quality message, and creating a culture of TQM in an organization.
Easton and Sherry (1998) suggest that TQM is based on the principles of process focus (including process definition, process management, and process improvement); systematic improvement (cycle-time reduction, cost reduction, and prevention-based orientation); companywide emphasis (quality is a central concept for all functions of an organization, including product development and business support processes); customer focus (encompassing lead-time reduction, on-time delivery, field and technical support, integrating customer information into management system, involving customer into planning and product development); management-by-fact (decision-making on the basis of objective data by deployment and tracking of metrics); employee participation and development (employee empowerment and organizational learning); cross-functional management (enhanced focus on processes that cross several functions); supplier performance and supplier relationships (supplier capabilities, supplier improvement, and supplier involvement and integration); and recognition of TQM as a critical competitive strategy (TQM becoming a concern of employees at all levels).
Senior management should define and communicate corporate beliefs, values and objectives, act as role models in achieving TQM, and encourage effective employee participation. Supervising and training, teamwork and system thinking and can ensure success of TQM implementation.
Training is an important element of the TQM model. For contemporary managers, it has become a successful tool for both retaining and attracting competent specialists. In fact, it has been proved that the availability of training is one of the voting issues when employees choose their future place of work (Turban & Greening, 1997) and an important factor in employee retention (Paul & Anantharaman, 2003). Apart from that, training is reported to dramatically increase labor productivity (Bartel, 1991).
The benefits of TQM are widely recognized by leading business consultants and practicing managers worldwide. These benefits are increased competitiveness; growth and longevity of an organization through more productive corporate culture; reduced stress, waste and friction; and partnership and cooperation at all levels of organization as well as with external stakeholders (Chartered Quality Institute, 2008).
Another significant development in management theory is transformational human resource management, or strategic human resource management. Conventionally, HRM is entrusted with performing a traditional set of transactional tasks, such as recruitment, benefits, and job classification. However, this approach perceives HRM as a cost instead of viewing it as a strategic opportunity. Therefore, the need has arisen to transform HRM into a value-added service. Managers should become strategic business partners and change agents within their organizations, playing a consultative role rather than being strictly confined to their traditional tasks.
HRM is a practice that affects all the functions of an organization and should be attached paramount importance. As Ivancevich (2003) notes, ‘[w]hen an organization is concerned about people, its total philosophy, culture, and orientation reflect it’ (p. 23).
It is also true that for decades HRM was overlooked and barely linked to organizational effectiveness. Current performance was more important than long-term perspective, and the role of HR professionals was traditional and limited. Nowadays, such approach is widely recognized as counterproductive, and HR specialists take an active part in determining the strategic direction of an organization: ‘[t]he HR department must be a proactive, integral part of management and strategic planning (Ivancevich, 2003, p. 49).
For businesses, competition and globalization made strategic, or transformational, HRM a priority. The shift from transactional to transformational HRM should start with a comprehensive needs assessment in the form of an internal survey of employees and line managers. The survey should indicate possible areas for improvement; these areas usually concern the ‘development of more consistent processes, communication and collaboration between HR areas, strategic business partnership with line management, employee and management training and career development, and best practice knowledge’ (Mothersell et al., 2008, p. 79).
The vision of strategic HRM consists of five elements, namely highly competent diverse workforce (i.e. attracting highly qualified specialists, offer them career development opportunities, and acknowledge and reward their contribution); value-added technology (implementing adaptable, user-friendly and accessible information systems); customer driven HR services (understanding the needs of customers and responding to them in a timely and adequate manner); HR consultants (providing expert help, accelerating change, and being strategic business partners within organizations); and collaborative HR partners (implementing consisting HR orientation across the organization).
Strategic HRM has numerous advantages as compared with traditional HRM, as presented by Ivancevich (2003). Under the new paradigm, managers lead, inspire, and understand their subordinates and colleagues; it stimulates them to transform the culture of their organizations into open, participative, and empowering; and it orients them towards an improved understanding and use of human assets.
Given that market globalization reinforces the importance of intercultural communication, since majority of big corporations employ people from a variety of backgrounds. For this reason, management of diversity is one of the most important human resources tasks. Visionary and effective diversity management reduces the probability of conflict in organizations; furthermore, it increases efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction.
‘Managing diversity’ is a concept that refers to ‘a planned, systematic and comprehensive managerial process for developing an organizational environment in which all employees, with their similarities and differences, can contribute to the strategic and competitive advantage of the organization, and where no-one is excluded on the basis of factors unrelated to production’ (Performance Associates, 2004, ‘Managing Diversity: A Definition’, para. 1).
Farid Elashmawi and Phillip R. Harris acknowledge the impact of diverse workforce on market and underline the fact that successful companies should go to great length to avoid ‘multicultural business clashes that occur between people from diverse cultural backgrounds’ (1998, p. 62).
Jack Scarborough (2000) goes beyond behavioural differences among employees. His advice is to pay greater attention to values shared by people from different backgrounds. Not only does everyday life differ across the globe, but also leadership style and workplace ethics vary from country to country.
In the contemporary workplace, failure of an organization can be in many cases attribute to ineffective management of diversity:
‘When there is weak leadership and management of diversity within an organization, a variety of problems and issues can arise’ (Sonnenschein, 1999, p.25). Development of healthy, tolerant and productive organizational culture is only possible under the conditions of visionary intercultural management.
A successful manager is characterized by tolerance and cultural sensitivity. Contemporary market needs ‘can only be met on a global scale when a new class of managers and professionals come prepared with multi-cultural skills’ (Elashmawi and Harris, 1998, p. 1).
The elements of a successful model of diversity management, as suggested by Cox (2001), include sensitive leadership, education, aligning systems and practices, and follow-up activities. Inability to adhere to this model might have far-reaching negative implications for business operations. Cox (2001, p. 13) emphasizes the fact that ‘[t]he presence of a diversity-toxic culture is the ultimate cause of the failure of organizations to successfully embrace diversity in its members.’ As Thomas and Ely (2003, p. 362) put it, effective diversity management ‘will lift morale, bring greater access to new segments of the marketplace, and enhance productivity.’
The importance of multicultural competency is hard to overestimate: it is widely believed that technical competency and multicultural competency constitute a prerequisite for each other in management.
The culturally skilled manager is characterized by tolerance and cultural sensitivity. The culturally skilled practitioner pays attention to values shared by people from different backgrounds and cultivates openness as his or her key characteristic. Fowers and Davidov (2006) deem that ‘the character strength of openness to the other recognize and embody the ethical importance of multiculturalism and internalize its aims of social justice, cultural respect, and mutual affirmation’ (p. 591).
Therefore, diversity should be regarded as a strategic resource for successful organizations. Managing diversity is one of the most crucial human resources tasks in the contemporary workplace.
During my career as a manager, I have developed various skills, including public speaking, interpersonal communication, creativity, partner attitude, teamwork, conflict resolution, problem solving, and time management. However, there are still areas that need improvement.
There are many approaches to defining the features that make people successful as managers. But upon careful analysis it becomes evident that a manager’s perspective is his/her most enabling asset, and this is a quality I would like to develop further.
Manager’s perspective is in a way similar to the concept of vision, which is by far the most cited characteristic of good managers. A good manager should be a strategic and visionary thinker equipped with skills for developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating strategies and programmes. Leaders to have a strategic vision are able to communicate it to the entire workforce. Leaders who do not give clear direction constitute a prevalent cause of decreased efficiency and quality.
Yet the notion of perspective encompasses much more than vision; it is more complex and holistic. First of all, I would like to develop my ability to take a long-term view without compromising efficiency in the short term.
Secondly, I would like to develop qualities necessary for becoming a transformational leader, namely the ability to project idealized influence, to offer inspirational motivation, to provide intellectual stimulation, and to five all employees individualized consideration.
Secondly, developing intercultural skills is of paramount importance for my future. In a multinational environment, employees are likely to have different experiences and sums of knowledge. Problems might include misunderstanding of basic terms of cooperation and prejudices against other team members. To avoid them, I should learn how to establish a clear framework for cooperation and enforce ethical standards.
Intercultural awareness and competence can be achieved through specific training programs. I can learn how to understand the culture of my subordinates better by gaining insights into its origins, including history, religion, and politics. Knowledge of the issues of race, ethnicity, and religion are invaluable for effective leaders. The most effective way to comprehend a different culture is to compare and contrast it with my own cultural identity. Managers with a deep understanding of their cultural self are likely to possess strong intercultural skills.
Finally, I would like to develop my skills associated with management of change in organizations. In times of change, transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of responsible and visionary leadership. Specific techniques that can be used to manage change in an organization include all the initiatives aimed at enhancing communication flows, both vertical and horizontal, as well all measures to ensure transparency of decision-making processes. There was an incident in my practice when a successful organization failed become of the management’s inability to guide and communicate change.
In times of change, alignment of personal goals, values, mission, and vision with those of my company should occur. As concern practical policies aimed at ensuring this, company-wide discussions of the direction and mode of change can be useful.
Therefore, there are several managerial competencies, namely strategic vision, transformational leadership, intercultural awareness, and management of change need further development.
Bartel, A.P. 1991, Productivity Gains from the Implementation of Employee Training Programs, NBER Working Paper No. W3893, [Online], Available from: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=226731 (last accessed: July 18, 2008)
Chartered Quality Institute. 2008, ‘Total quality management’, [Online] Available at: http://www.thecqi.org/resources/d2-4.shtml (last accessed: July 18, 2008).
Cox, T. 2001, ‘Creating the Multicultural Organization: A Strategy for Capturing the Power of Diversity’, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. 2000, ‘Total Quality Management (TQM)’, [Online] Available at: http://www.businessballs.com/dtiresources/total_quality_management_TQM.pdf (last accessed: July 18, 2008).
Easton, G.S., & Sherry L.J. 1998, ‘The Effects of Total Quality Management on Corporate Performance: An Empirical Investigation’, The Journal of Business, vol. 71, no. 2, pp. 253-307.
Elashmawi, F., & Harris, P. R. 1998, Multicultural Management 2000: Essential Cultural Insights for Global Business Success, Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston.
Fowers, B.J., & Davidov, B.J. 2006, ‘The Virtue of Multiculturalism: Personal Transformation, Character, and Openness to the Other’, American Psychologist, vol. 61, no. 6, pp. 581-594.
Gillespie, R. 1993, Manufacturing Knowledge: A History of the Hawthorne Experiments, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Henderson, G. 1996, Human Relations Issues in Management, Quorum Books, Westport.
Ivancevich, J.M. 2003, Human Resource Management, 9th ed., McGraw-Hill/Irwin, Boston.
Mothersell, W.M., Moore, M.L., Ford, K.J., & Farrell, J. 2008, ‘Revitalizing Human Resources Management in State Government: Moving From Transactional to Transformational HR Professionals in the State of Michigan’, Public Personnel Management, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 77-97.
Paul, A.K., & Anantharaman, R.N. 2003, ‘Impact of people management practices on organizational performance: analysis of a causal model’, International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 14, no. 7, pp. 1246-1266.
Performance Associates. 2004, ‘Managing Diversity’, [Online], Available from: http://www.performanceassociates.co.nz/diversity.html (last accessed: July 18, 2008)
Scarborough, J. 2000, The Origins of Cultural Differences and Their Impact on Management, Quorum, Westport.
Sonnenschein, W. 1999, The Diversity Toolkit: How You Can Build and Benefit from a Diverse Workforce, McGraw-Hill, New York.
Taylor, F.W. 2004, The Principles Of Scientific Management, Kessinger, Kila, MT.
Thomas, D. A., & Ely, R. J. 2003, ‘Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity’, In Ely, R. J., Scully, M. A., & Foldy, E. G. (eds.) Reader in Gender, Work and Organization, Blackwell, Oxford.
Turban, D.B., & Greening, D.W. 1997, ‘Corporate social performance and organizational attractiveness to prospective employees’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 40, pp. 658-672.