Every organization utilizes different types of management techniques, practices, theories and principles. Each organization utilizes their own practices as it correlates to their organizations’ mission, goals and culture. What works for one organization may not work for the next. In my opinion, I believe that multiple management practices can work for an organization. The best way to determine which practices will be beneficial to an organization is as simple as trial and error.
Formally defined, the principles of management are defined as the activities that “plan, organize, and control the operations of the basic elements of [people], materials, machines, methods, money and markets, providing direction and coordination, and giving leadership to human efforts, so as to achieve the sought objectives of the enterprise” (Koontz & Weihrich, 2006). Over the last two hundred years management principle has evolved heavily from its inception up to its modern day principles. Over the course of my civilian and military career I can attest that I have had leadership that has taken cues from different stages of the management principle evolution.
The classical school of management principle is considered the oldest formal school of management thought. Its origins pre-date the twentieth century. Managers were unsure of how to deal with increased labor dissatisfaction and train employees particularly because many of them were non-English speaking immigrants so they began to test solutions. As a result, the classical management theory developed from efforts to find the “one best way” to perform and manage tasks. The Classical School generally concerns ways to manage work and organizations more efficiently. Three areas of study that can be grouped under the classical school are scientific management, administrative management, and bureaucratic management (Hill & McShane, 2006).
The Classical School sought to define the essence of management in the form of universal fundamental functions. These, it was hoped, would form the cognitive basis for a set of relevant skills to be acquired, by all would-be managers through formal education. Some of the key figures within the Classical School were Mary Parker Follett, Chester Barnard and Frederick Taylor (Koontz & Weihrich, 2006).
During the middle of the twentieth century, two major schools of management were developed. One being the Quantitative School of Management and the other, the Behavioral Management Theory. The quantitative approach to management involves the use of quantitative techniques, such as statistics, information models, and computer simulations, to improve decision making. Management principles developed during the classical period were simply not useful in dealing with many management situations and could not explain the behavior of individual employees. In short, classical theory ignored employee motivation and behavior. As a result, the behavioral school was a natural outgrowth of this revolutionary management experiment (Hill & McShane, 2006).
Modern management approaches respect the classical, human resource, and quantitative approaches to management. Successful managers recognize that although each theoretical school has limitations in its applications, each approach also offers valuable insights that can broaden a manager’s options in solving problems and achieving organizational goals. Successful managers work to extend these approaches to meet the demands of their prospective environments (Carpenter, Bauer, & Erdogan, 2010)
The organization that I currently work for is the United States Navy. In the Navy our work environment is very different compared to the usual work environments. Most individuals work in an office environment with a cubicle or an office. I remember the days that I did work in an traditional work environment. Looking back I definitely remember some of the managers that I had and their respective management techniques and practices. But now in the Navy I currently work on a 200 ton ship. My work environment is arduous, industrious and at times very dangerous. I would definitely say that the typical management practices don’t work for my work environment. But fortunately some of them do work and they work very well.
Being in the military, most military members don’t have the traditional jobs, work schedules, and working environment. When deployed I can work up to 18 hours days up to 7 days a week. Working such grueling scheduling it takes remarkable leadership and management skills to keep individuals in my work environment working steadily and keep morale at optimal levels. Within the military one of the most important theories in management is the Behavioral Management Theory.
The Behavioral Management Theory works well within the military because it emphasizes understanding of human behavior at work, such as motivation, conflict, expectations, and group dynamics, improved productivity. In the military, especially during times of war it is crucial to understand human emotions and behaviors. For example, in the Navy we are literally a floating city with in excess of 4,000 Sailors and Marines. These 4,000 Sailors and Marines are made up of different races, cultures and socioeconomic statuses. Every one of the individuals onboard experiences a different emotion at any given time. As a leader it is important to acknowledge that and use it as an advantage.
In the Navy, it’s called “knowing your Sailors”. When you “know your Sailors” you can assign the right Sailor to the right position, reward each Sailor accordingly and take care of any issues that each respective Sailor may have, whether it be personal or professional. For example, when I was deployed my Chain of Command knew that I was more of an early riser. I felt more productive working mornings and it was just a better fit for me. My Chain of Command put me in charge of a morning shift and I loved it. I received nothing but kudos from my Chain of Command about my performance. It was also the first job that I’ve ever had that I felt my preferences were taken in consideration and in turn it yielded positive results for my superiors. I wish that other leaders could see the good in knowing their subordinates.
One approach to management that I really like but don’t quite feel would fit in my current work environment is the quantitative approach. The quantitative approach to management involves the use of quantitative techniques, such as statistics, information models, and computer simulations, to improve decision making. Unfortunately in my work environment this would not work. In the Navy or in most branches of the military decisions are made quickly and under pressure. There’s no time to reference statistics or models. For example, if there’s a foreign ship with a missile or torpedo aimed at my ship. My leadership is going to give me the order to counter attack that missile or torpedo. That’s a decision that’s going to be made quickly (Koontz & Weihrich, 2006).
If I had my own organization I would definitely utilize the quantitative approach to management. I strongly believe in the power of statistics when making decisions. One quote comes to mind “the statistics don’t lie”, which is a fact that no one can deny. In leadership, statistics should be used as tools and not guiding factors.
Carpenter, M., Bauer, T., & Erdogan, B. (2010). Principles of management. Irvington, New York: Flat World Knowledge.
Hill, C., & McShane, S. (2006). Principles of management. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies,Inc.
Koontz, H., & Weihrich, H. (2006). Essentials of management. New York: Tata McGraw-Hill Education.