Management Theory

Management Theory

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Over the years, there have been many studies conducted in the hopes of defining and logically explaining the definition of scientific management. The purpose of these studies has been mainly to assist managers in their role of getting the most production out of their employees in an efficient and cost-effective manner. As Frederick Taylor (1911) put it, “Scientific management fundamentally consists of certain broad general principles, a certain philosophy, which can be applied in many ways.” (p. 13). I believe that scientific management is only achieved when the management of a firm takes the time to analyze its internal philosophy and apply the appropriate policies and procedures that will enable the staff to increase productivity as well as enhancing its employee’s desires to improve their own work performance. It is my viewpoint that the company I currently work for, Angelus Sanitary Can Machine Company (ASCMC) could greatly benefit from some of the theories of scientific management.

It has been said that “The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee,” (Taylor, 1911, p. 5). That has never seemed to be the case since I have worked at ASCMC. To the contrary, the company seemingly has little interest in making its employees prosperous and in fact, the prosperity of the company seems to be an after-thought as well. This is evidenced in the manner of which the company indulges on unnecessary extras and lavish vacations for the officers of the company, but nickel and dimes the working staff when they need to travel for business purposes.

When production levels fell, there seemed to be no sense of urgency from management or staff to analyze why. The staff seemed to covet any additional overtime as it is the only monetary incentive provided by the company. Upper management itself appeared to not be concerned with such things as profits and production time as long as they still received their comfortable wages and were afforded their luxurious perks and fringe benefits. It is most assuredly true that ASCMC could benefit greatly from a more formal use of scientific management as well as some lessons in leadership.

In order to obtain prosperity for both the employer and employee, it is up to the managers to act as the leaders of the company and encourage the employees to believe in what the goals of the firm are.

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According to Henry Mintzberg (1971), “Each time a manager encourages a subordinate, or meddles in his affairs, or replies to one of his requests, he is playing the leader role.” (p. 103). The managers at ASCMC always seem far too involved in their own personal activities to take the time to encourage someone or give acknowledgement for a job well done.

I remember one time specifically that I stayed after work, off the clock, to finish a project that was given to me earlier that day. I was given no prior notice of it and it was something that normally would take two full days to complete. However, an executive manager needed it done, so I promptly closed the door to my office and spent the rest of my day (and two hours extra) to complete it. I went to take it to the executive officer and his assistant informed me that he had left for the day and would not return until early next week. I emailed the copy to him, and carbon copied my direct supervisor but never received an acknowledgement or gratitude in any way for going out of my way to finish the daunting task in such a limited amount of time.

Another example of ASCMC’s fundamentally flawed management philosophy can be illustrated by an event that took place in the sales department of the company. Recently, inside sales representatives have been put on an incentive plan and are given a pecuniary bonus based on which of the five men have the most sales bookings for a given week. One particular sales associate is less ethically responsible than the others. He will stand by the fax machine in order to process the orders that belong to other staff members and has even been known to take orders off of someone else’s desk after the quote has already been processed. The new manager of the department says that it’s a first come first serve game and the unfair practices that are being demonstrated are of no consequence to him.

The point that the new manager does not realize is that the employee that is taking this underhanded approach has the least amount of expertise and the worst work ethic of the whole group. It has caused a great deal of animosity from the rest of the department and a couple of the harder working and more knowledgeable employees in the department are considering resigning from the company due to the new manager’s philosophies. The supervisor would be well served to heed the words of Warren Bennis (1999) who said, “Without leaders who can attract and retain talent, manage knowledge, and unblock people’s capacity to adapt and innovate, an organization’s future is in jeopardy.” (p. 1). Indeed, he is in danger of losing two of his best associates from the department.

A final key role of management is to properly motivate and train its staff. Once again, this is an area that ASCMC could greatly improve in. “Effective leaders bring passion, perspective, and significance to the process of defining organizational purpose.” (Bennis, 1999, p. 5). I have already elaborated on the lack of passion demonstrated by the company’s management. In addition to that, there is virtually no sense of purpose or significance for ninety percent of the workers at ASCMC. This is because we are not given reasons for the things that we do, we are simply told just to do it. One time, I was asked to book an adjusting entry for month-end that I did not understand. When I asked my supervisor what the reason for the entry was, she explained to me that it was given to her by the CFO and directed me to “just book it.” I accepted the job of Senior Accountant at ASCMC because it was conveyed to me in the interview process that my role would be one of importance and significance and that the job would be challenging and educational. After all, “Most of us are motivated by intrinsic rewards: interesting, challenging work, and the opportunity to achieve and grow into greater responsibility.” (Herzberg, 1968, p. 2). Had I known then that I ever would have been told, “Do it because I say so,” I probably never would have taken the job.

A final example of how ASCMC’s management has misguided motivators in place is in the company’s year-end bonus structure. Basically, the bonus is calculated solely based on tenure and has nothing whatsoever to do with job performance. After you reach fifteen years of employment with the company, your bonus is maximized at $1,000 (before taxes) and you essentially have no further incentive to increase productivity or take on new responsibilities. This illustrates a classic example of rewarding A while hoping for B: “The firm is hoping for performance, but rewarding longevity.” (Kerr, 1975, p. 4).

In conclusion, I believe that ASCMC would greatly benefit as a company if its leaders applied some scientific management and leadership teachings to their philosophies. An investigation of what motivates employees and what doesn’t would unquestionably be beneficial to the prosperity of the company. “Managers perform ten basic roles which fall into three groupings: interpersonal, external liaison, and leader.” (Mintzberg, 1971, p. 97). If this is true, then the management at Angelus Sanitary Can Machine Company is suffering from deficiencies in about nine of them.

References

Bennis, Warren. (1999). The leadership advantage. Leader to Leader, no. 12. Retrieved Sep. 3, 2007 from http://www.leadertoleader.org/knowledgecenter/L2L/spring99/bennis.html
Herzberg, Frederick. (1968). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review.
Kerr, Steven. (1975). On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B. Academy of Management Journal, vol. 18. Retrieved Sep. 3, 2007 from http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~wstarbuc/mob/kerrab.html
Mintzberg, Henry. (1971). Managerial work: Analysis from observation. Management Science, vol. 18, no. 2. Retrieved Sep. 3, 2007 from JStor.
Taylor, Frederick W. (1911). The principles of scientific management. New York: Harper Bros., 5-29. Retrieved Sep. 3, 2007 from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1911taylor.html
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