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Throwback Thursday

Benjamin Felix

Ben Felix
Managing People & Organizations
September 28, 2011

My Management Theory - Right Idea

One of the most progressive outlooks on managing organizations brings together the ideas from March and Simon`s Decison-Making School and the Contingency Approach with what can best be described as a collective dictatorship, as contradictory as that may sound it should begin to make sense.  The Right Idea indicates that a successful organization relies on a culture in which workers are willing to compete for their position and demand the best possible outcome for the company; the workers are confident and competitive not only at work but in life. People that are recruited strive to be the best that they can be in any environment. This perspective on managing people relies heavily on the selection process and it allows an organization to be extremely resilient and forward moving without needing to worry about the feelings of its employees.  Developing the culture to drive the Right Idea within the company can take some time but it is not difficult; if people do not align with the ideals of the company they are removed quickly.  Ruling with fear is not the idea here; it is allowing people to be confident and proud in their role.  Workers that are not asked to leave the company begin to understand that they are valuable and know the right moves to make in certain situations to cause the company to move in the right direction.  This confidence allows individuals to not only keep each other in line, but to encourage a Theory Y management style.  Managers are people who have proven to understand the system and have confidence in their own ability to do so.  The role of the manager is to reinforce the culture in other workers while holding the ability to publicly remove someone from the system if they are causing a hitch in the flow; this does not mean the person will be fired, they will be given an opportunity to evaluate their own performance and decide whether or not they should remain in the organization.  If they decide that they should remain in the company, the rest of the workers will inherently keep a microscope over them because their dedication to the culture that everyone is dedicated to has been questioned.  This microscope will either cause the problem worker to fix their behaviour and begin helping to move the company forward or it will drive them out; either outcome solves the issue and develops a better employee or makes room for new talent.  Managers have the ability to provide extrinsic motivation to the employees through these tactics.  The Human Relations School introduced the idea that workers feelings needed to be taken into account for them to be productive and happy; that idea is given little weight in the Right Idea system of management.  This is not to say that people will be treated with incivility or that workers are unable to contribute to the ideas and direction of the organization, they simply need to remain productive to the best of their ability or leave for a less competitive organization if they cannot handle the culture.  Employee to employee candour is expected.  Employees need to be able to express to each other when they think someone is not pulling their weight, or if someone has body odour that is getting in the way of office productivity.  If an employee has an issue with the way that the organization is moving they are encouraged to address a manager with their ideas.  If the manager feels that the employee has valid concerns they will pass what they have heard to their overseers.  The Right Idea operates in sync with the Contingency Approach in that it is recognizes that different approaches to the development of the culture will fit different situations; it differs from the contingency approach in the way that it promotes success.  The contingency approach uses rewards to encourage achievement whereas the Right Idea expects success from everyone; it is not a case of punishment for laziness but of competition within the organization to be the best at moving the entire system in the right direction.  The success of the Right Idea is due to its ability to evoke the competitive nature of the carefully selected workers and its emphasis on instilling high levels of confidence in the most competent workers.

Blind Spots in the Theory

The Right Idea has one downfall that has the potential to push away some people that could otherwise be excellent employees; only confident people can survive in this management system.  Negative side effects of this fact are that it may be difficult for some people to enter the system and fight through the acclimation to the culture.  People that are not confident or competitive enough to either fit into the system or climb the ranks upon their arrival will likely struggle with the position this places them in the culture and may choose to leave.  The fact that the culture causes everyone to behave like a manager in that they strongly believe in upholding the values and goals of the company has strong potential to alienate people that are used to working in a more traditional environment.  When someone who may be a diligent and intelligent worker enters the environment and does something like complain about the work or question the efficacy of the methods used in running the company they will be reprimanded by their coworkers.  Some people may take this as a cue and begin conforming to the way everyone else is behaving, but some people may think that the company is a bunch of jerks that take everything too seriously and choose to leave.  This effect is a good thing for the function of the management theory but it could ultimately be negative for the company because they are losing a diligent worker to the competition.

Another spot where this method may fall short is its dependency on the assiduousness of every employee in conforming to the culture.  If one person is able to have a negative attitude about the organization and go undetected by peers and superiors it is easy for them to drag other people down with them; this will eventually be detected because most employees will be invested in the principles, and more than one employee may have to be removed for evaluation.  Removing multiple workers has obvious problems because the company will become short staffed.  The strengths in the Right Idea to remove people that are not moving in the right direction has the potential to cause a high turnover rate for the company.

My Personal Values Seen in the Right Idea

People should be confident and competitive in life.  If there is one person that is confident and competitive and ten people who are complacent and unsure the competitive person will succeed ten times out of ten.  This means that for an organization to be successful it needs to recruit and employ confident and competitive people.

Implicit Assumptions About Human Nature and Motivation

The Right Idea does not make any assumptions about human motivation or human nature.  Only people who are determined by a panel of interviewers are selected for the specific qualities needed to allow this management doctrine to function.  Human motivation is based on the way that people were raised and how interested they are in becoming successful people.  It is not a general topic that can be discussed because it varies so greatly based on so many factors.  A person that was raised in poverty with labouring parents and forced to work for everything will be more motivated than a wealthy person who has been given everything throughout their life.  Monetary situation may, however, be a bad example because a poor person raised by substance abusing parents who live off of welfare may be more likely to tend towards a pattern of laziness whereas someone raised by hardworking business professionals who ingrain the values of hard work into their children will likely tend towards a motivated lifestyle and work ethic.  I am getting away from the point; I do not agree that human nature and human motivation are factors that can be addressed generally.  Much in the same way that the contingency approach states that ``effectiveness varies according to the particular situation,`` (Osland, 2007) I believe that each person has a different level of motivation and needs to be managed differently.  That being said, in the Right Idea only people with high levels of motivation are accepted and able to maintain their position.  The right idea does not make assumptions about human nature either.  The same things I have said about human motivation apply to human nature.  Our natural instincts deteriorate due to the way that we currently live and so things like survival and competition depend fully on external factors.  Human nature cannot be addressed in a blanket discussion. 

Skills Necessary to be a Master Manager

Oration is the single most important skill to being a master manager; not the only skill by any means, but in its absence most other skills will be useless.  No matter how intelligent, well educated or confident a person is, if they cannot communicate their thoughts and ideas to the people they are managing they will be useless.  After the ability to speak to people, communication is the next most important skill for a manager.  If a red light is going off in your head because these two things are the same, they are not and I will differentiate them.  Communication includes sending emails, coordinating meetings and ensuring that the entire group being managed is informed of all relevant information for them to operate to the best of their ability.  I also believe that making subordinates feel comfortable enough to keep an open line with their superior is very important, this falls under communication with a sub context of people skills.  The third skill that I believe is imperative for a manager to have is a level of comprehension of the field within which they are managing or at least the ability to quickly learn about a new field.  If someone with an MBA had excellent speaking skills, great communication skills and no knowledge of food safety or how to work a deep fryer they may have trouble managing a Mcdonland`s; to be fair they would probably figure it out pretty quickly but in a more complex field than burger flipping it may not be so easy to pick up. 

To summarize, I believe that a master manager need to have speaking skills, communication skills and a good handle on the field in which they are managing.

Skills I Already Possess

I believe that I currently possess good speaking skills when I am addressing a group of people with which I am having a dialogue, such as a meeting and I believe that I have good speaking skills when I am talking to someone one on one.  My communication skills are strong as I was able to develop them during the completion of my engineering degree; I was travelling with the varsity basketball team for games games twice a week and I needed to be able to coordinate group work and communicate my absence from classes and exams with professors.  I believe that I am now adept at handling communication between a group of people or my superiors.

Skills That I Would Like to Work on During This Course

I would like to improve my ability to address a group of people as the main speaker; although I am comfortable in a dialogue within a group I still get flustered and easily lose my words when I am the main speaker and everyone is hanging on my every word.  I find that when it is a dialogue it is a much more comfortable setting because everyone is thinking and bouncing ideas off of each other and everyone is vulnerable to say the wrong thing or have an idea that the group shuts down but that is just part of a process.  When it is just me speaking to a group that is listening to only me and picking apart all of my thoughts and ideas in their heads I get nervous and have trouble successfully purveying my message.

My Action Plan to Improve My Public Speaking

I will attempt to answer questions in all of my classes; answering a question is more like addressing a group who is focused only on me.  I will gather my thoughts and relay what I am about to say in my head before I say it so that I do not lose my train of thought.  I believe that repetition is the key to success in public speaking and I will try to build up my confidence with high volumes of speaking to the class.  I will know when my skills are improved when I am able to stand up and address a group while being able to not only say what I wanted to say but being able to think on the fly and adjust my words to the reaction of my audience and answer questions about what I have said without getting nervous.