Special Article (September-2018)

 Special Articles

Article of the Month - Sept. 2018

Professor (Dr.) Prem Lal Joshi

Designation : -   Professor

Organization : -  Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, Malaysia


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In which three categories of managers are you?

In today's fast changing business environment in which technology and digitalization are playing key role, successul managers need the blending of both operating skills (doing things) and skillset for managing things. However, the key for a successful manager is to understand clearly the mindset shift needed moving from doer to manager. Managers may be of many categories. However, in a simple manner, most of them perhaps may be categorized into three :
1. SWM  = Smart working managers (20%)
2. HWM = Hard working managers (60%)
3. HWM = Hardly working managers (20%)
They may also be termed as excellent managers, good managers and bad managers.
Smart working managers (SWM) believe in change and delegate their power. They use their sound knowledge and skills in executing their work. These managers may strongly believe in rethinking work practices to leverage employees' innovation potential and create value addition for the organization. They work on successful strategies. Such managers, can achieve their goals in an accelerated manner, embrace time management, have high level thinking skills, and use innovative brain to make things easier. They may even know how to overcome stress and try to be both mentally and physically fit and stress on seeking advisory of the confident consultant. They strongly believe that working smartly saves time, efforts, money required to get results and do the things efficiently. Additionally, they may also create an energetic and highly motivated work place. SWM show care and empathy to their subordinates and drive them towards connecting to organization's vision.
Being the strong propoent of empowerment, they may try to delegate 80% of their power and authority to the subordinates and focus on managing 20% of value added activities which generate 80% of organization's revenues. They may be self motivated and may believe in the "mantra" if "I want to achieve success, I need to work smart". It is also posited that smart work brings a lot of recognition from the  society. These things allow smart working managers to grow faster in the organization and industry they belong to. They may also be rewarded with lucrative bonus because being smart takes a lot of effort and creativity. Companies in consumer goods giant Unilever hires such smart managers. Some articles claim that Unilever has been hiring employees using brain games and artificial intelligence which resulted in huge success for the company. Other example is Colgate Polmolive which is considered a great place to work, high remuneration, reliable and friendly environment, supportive culture, flexibility, great management that encourages work/life balance. Telecom Italia is an excellent example for smart working people. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Tata group of companies, Larsen & Toubro, Digital companies etc. are other examples.
Smart managers implement strong team building concept. They understand the strengths of each individual manager and put each person in place to shine. They believe in transparency, set ground rules for team to act as solution oreinted managers, and provide inventives.
I would say that such managers may follow a combination of consultative, and democratic styles or even 'management by walking around'. These managers may possess conceptual, leadership, communication, analytical, problem solving skills or even spiritual skill. Some of the skills may be overlapping. Some professionals argue that combination of hard work and smart work complement each other for managers to be successful.
It is said that good management doesn't happen by itself. Capable and effective managers need to be trained on the latest updates particularly on government polices affecting their company and industry, laws, competitors position, environmental issues, new development in management theories and trends etc.
Hard working managers (HWM) delegate less and do the things themselves such as accountants. They may consider the things they do are of confidential in nature. They do work with lots of effort, taking more time and hard work. Perhaps they focus on performing activities more as compared to less on results. Some HWM may do the same thing twice or thrice not sticking to time management.
George Dinwiddie (2008) in her article on "Working Hard or Hardly Working" remarks in this context : "My experience is that some people have to work harder to accomplish the same results that another person can accomplish easily. Some people look like they are working mighty hard, but are not accomplishing much."
Hard working managers tend to exhibit the traits of productivity, motivation, dedication and self - reliance. They may have impressive work ethics, willing to do whatever needs to be done and may be trusted more. Additionally, they may report their work progress to superiors more frequently. The percentage of such managers may vary between 55%-65%. Companies such as Southwest Airlines, Screwfix, Warby Parker, Birla group of companies, Nitro practise these styles.
HWM may follow a consultative and persuasive type of managerial styles. They may possess human relations, technical, communication, administrative and spiritual skills. Such managers are rewarded with normal bonus.
Hardly working managers (HWM) may remain within the organizations for a leisure or looking for opportunities in other organizations. They may know the art of not working at work. Their percentage may vary between 10 to 20%. They do not get any where by sheer hard work. They may be considered as non - performers. They may nag around and often may be protected by management or union. They may also be union leaders. They may visit purchase and finance departments to inquire about the billing and payment status of some of the suppliers for self interest. They may also be closely connected with core management who may protect them or they may be whistle blowers or engage in spying and pass on the information to such managers who utilize them in organizational conflict and politics.
They may possess human relations skills, communication skills and spying skills. However, a few work sociologists may be of the view that non-work at work is a marginal, if not negligible, phenomenon in actual practice.
As managers, you may have two options to deal with such people i.e. either transform them into hardworking managers done through coaching, training and retraining on selected areas such as managing performance, understanding work place roles, working as a team. It can also be done through other ways of changing attitude and behaviour likewise supporting your superiors and organization etc. otherwise retrench them.
Conclusion :
In today's digitalized enterprises, the roles of employees and managers are changing rapidly. Organizations' working culture is also transforming through smart and hard working managers. Most of the employees in the organization put all efforts to salvage and improve positive work environment, however, all roads lead back to the managers who ultimately have the accountability. If the managers work smartly with hard work, organizations sustainability is bound to enhance in terms of long term profitability, growth and prosperity.