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Virtually everyone is aware of the infamous "dot-com" crash in early 2000. However, not everyone is as conscious of the telecom bust. According to the editorial of The Economist, The Great Telecoms Crash, "The telecoms bust is some ten times bigger than the dotcom crash: the rise and fall of telecoms may indeed qualify as the largest bubble in history." Companies caught up in the telecommunications industry were forced to take huge debt write-offs and even resorted to fraudulent accounting tricks as displayed by WorldCom (Economist). Being involved in the manufacturing segment of the telecom market, I witnessed first hand the results of the crash, including massive layoffs, hostile corporate take-over, and enormous company debt. Many top managers and front-line supervisors were so consumed with demands, changes and challenges of the exponential growth of the telecom market that portions of the four functions of management were short-circuited , which are planning, organizing, leading and controlling.
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The key matter in accomplishing the goals set forth in the planning process is configuring the work of the organization. Organizing is defined as gathering and arranging the necessary resources. These resources can be human, financial, physical, or informational to carry out the plan. Our company has organizational charts for each level and shows job titles, lines of authority and relationships between departments. One aspect of the organizing function that is apparent in our business is the production manager matching employee skill level with task requirements to maximize productivity.
The third significant task that a manager does is leading. The textbook by Bateman-Snell, Management: The New Competitive Landscape, simply defines leading as stimulating people to be high performers. A leader can be a manager, but a manager is not necessarily a leader. With years of being in the workforce, I have come to believe that a manager is not necessarily a leader. There have been several managers that were proficient at the administrative aspects, which are planning, organizing and controlling but lacked the interpersonal portion of the manager's job. Recently, another corporation purchased our company, and with the looming transition approaching, there was anxiety concerning the restructuring and inevitable layoffs. However, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) gave a town hall presentation and afterward the anxieties were abated and employees were as enthused and confident as the COO that the new merger was an excellent strategic fit.
The final part of a manager's responsibility is controlling. The definition of controlling is verifying that actual performance matches the plan and that needed changes are made (Bateman-Shell 16). The first step in the control process is setting standards such as deadlines, material-yield, and budgets. Examples of controls we face as employees are based on performance such as absences, tardiness, accidents, quality and quantity of work. The next step is measuring actual performance, where supervisors measure our actual performance by collecting data. For example time cards, production records, inspection reports and purchase orders. After the data has been collected, managers compare the measured performance against the standards. One tool that is used in our plant is Six Sigma, which is a tool to determine if a process for a product is outside the acceptable variance. The final step involves the supervisor determining the cause from the standard. If the variance is not acceptable then action is taken to remove or minimize the cause.
A manager's job consists of planning, organizing, leading and controlling the resources of an organization. These resources include, people, jobs, technology, facilities and equipment, materials and supplies, information, and money. Managers work in an ever-changing environment and must anticipate and adapt to challenges. When top managers fail at planning and controlling as was the case in the telecoms crash, companies and the economy will suffer.
Batemen-Snell. Management: The New Competitive Landscape. The McGraw-Hill Companies,
Dessler, Gary. Management Theory, Practice and Application. Upper Saddle River: Pearson
"The Great Telecoms Crash." The Economist 18 July 2002. 21 August 2004