Is the functional approach to managing, teaching and research in the organizational field an effective option for preparing people to manage in the real world? Justify your answer.

The functional approach to managing, teaching and research in the organizational field is an effective option for preparing people to manage in the real world.

The functional approach to management is said to be the oldest school of thought about management and organization structure. Management, teaching or research is viewed as a systematic network (process) of interrelated functions. The nature and content of these functions, the mechanics by which each function is performed and the interrelationship between these functions is the core of the functional approach.

On the basis of experiences of practicing managers, principles are developed. These principles are used as guidelines for the practicing executive and basis of management training. Functions, principles and skills of management are considered universal and they can be applied in different situations.

Henri Fayol was the first person to identify elements or functions of management in his classic 1916 book ‘Administration Industrielle et Generale’. Fayol was the managing director of a large French coal-mining firm and based his book largely on his experiences as a practitioner of management. He defined five functions, or elements of management: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. Fayol argued that these functions were universal, in the sense that all managers performed them in the course of their jobs, whether the managers worked in business, military, government, religious, or philanthropic undertakings.

Fayol defined planning in terms of forecasting future conditions, setting objectives, and developing means to attain objectives. He recognized that effective planning must also take into account unexpected contingencies that might arise and did not advocate rigid and inflexible plans. Fayol defined organizing as making provision for the structuring of activities and relationships within the firm and also the recruiting, evaluation, and training of personnel.

According to Fayol, commanding as a managerial function concerned the personal supervision of subordinates and involved inspiring them to put forth unified effort to achieve objectives. He emphasized the importance of managers understanding the people who worked for them, setting a good example, treating subordinates in a manner consistent with firm policy, delegating, and communicating through meetings and conferences.

Fayol saw the function of coordination as harmonizing all of the various activities of the firm. Most later experts did not retain Fayol’s coordination function as a separate function of management but regarded it as a necessary component of all the other management functions. Fayol defined the control function in terms of ensuring that everything occurs within the parameters of the plan and accompanying principles. The purpose of control was to identify deviations from objectives and plans and to take corrective action.

Fayol’s work was not widely known outside Europe until 1949, when a translation of his work appeared in the United States. Nevertheless, his discussion of the practice of management as a process consisting of specific functions had a tremendous influence on early management texts that appeared in the 1950s.

Management pioneers such as George Terry, Harold Koontz, Cyril O’Donnell, and Ralph Davis all published management texts in the 1950s that defined management as a process consisting of a set of interdependent functions. Collectively, these and several other management experts became identified with what came to be known as the process school of management.

According to the process school, management is a distinct intellectual activity consisting of several functions. The process theorists believe that all managers, regardless of their industry, organization, or level of management, engage in the functions of management. The process school of management became a dominant paradigm for studying management and the functions of management became the most common way of describing the nature of managerial work.

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To what extent and why, might an improved historical understanding of management and organizations improve the performance of current managers?

Managers today face the ultimate paradox of keeping everything running efficiently and profitably, while, at the same time, changing everything. It is no longer enough just to learn how to measure and control things. Success accrues to those who learn how to be leaders, to initiate change, and to create organizations with fewer managers and less hierarchy that can shift gears quickly.

Management philosophies and organizational forms change over time to meet new needs. The workplace of today is different from what it was 50 years ago, indeed, from what it was even 10 years ago. Yet some ideas and practices from the past are still highly relevant and applicable to management today. A historical perspective provides a broader way of thinking, a way of searching for patterns and determining whether they recur across time periods. For example, certain management techniques that seem modern, such as employee stock-ownership programs, have repeatedly gained and lost popularity since the early twentieth century because of historical forces. William Cooper Procter, grandson of the cofounder of Procter and Gamble, introduced a profit sharing plan in 1887, and expanded it by tying it to stock ownership a few years later. Sam Walton opened Wal-Mart’s financial records, including salaries, to all employees in the 1960s, long before business magazines were touting the value of open-book management.

A study of the past contributes to understanding both the present and the future. It is a way of learning from others’ mistakes so as not to repeat them; learning from other’s successes so as to repeat them in the appropriate situation; and most of all, learning to understand why things happen to improve our organizations in the future.

The passage of time also contributes to the institutionalization of managerial attitudes. As a result, employee behavior becomes not only more predictable but also more difficult to change when attitudes are outdated.  A historical perspective on management provides a context or environment in which to interpret current opportunities and problems. The value of studying management lies not in learning current facts and research but in developing a perspective that will facilitate the broad, long-term view needed for management success.

What is intellectual Ability, and how is it relevant to OB?

Ability refers to an individual’s capacity to perform the various tasks in a job. An individual’s overall abilities are essentially made up of the following factors:

1. Intellectual Abilities, and

2. Physical Abilities.

Intellectual ability commonly refers to the ability measured by performance on an intelligence test. It is also sometimes used in the context of discussing the performance of someone in an academic or real world setting.

Intellectual Abilities are those that are needed to perform mental activities usually involving thinking and reasoning. Mental activities can be measured by intelligent quotient (IQ) tests that are designed to ascertain one’s general mental abilities. Some familiar examples of such tests are Common Admission Tests (CAT), Management programs admission tests (GMAT), law (LSAT), and medical (MCAT), etc. Usually these tests try to measure and evaluate one’s mental abilities on various academic areas pertaining to the success in the relevant courses, such as mathematics, English, General knowledge etc.

It is believed that there are a few different dimensions of mental abilities. Some of the most frequently cited dimensions of intellectual capacities are: Number Aptitude (Mathematics), Verbal Comprehension (English), Perceptual Speed, Reasoning, Deductive Reasoning, Spatial Visualization and Memory. Generally speaking, the more information processing is required in a job, the more general intelligence and verbal abilities will be necessary to perform the job successfully. Of course, a high IQ is not a prerequisite for all. In Fact, for many jobs in which employee behavior is highly routine and there are little or no opportunities to exercise discretion, a high IQ may be unrelated to performance. On the other hand, a careful review of the evidence demonstrates that tests that assess verbal, numerical, spatial, and perceptual ability are valid predictors of job proficiency at all levels of jobs. Therefore, tests measure specific dimensions of intelligence have been found to be strong predictors of future job performance.

Relevance of Intellectual Ability to OB

Organizational behavior is traditionally considered as the study of human behavior in the work place. Employee performance is enhanced when an employee and position are well matched—what we call a high ability–job fit. If we focus only on the employee’s abilities or the ability requirements of the job, we ignore the fact that employee performance depends on the interaction of the two. What predictions can we make when the fit is poor? If employees lack the required abilities, they are likely to fail. If you’re hired as a word processor and you can’t meet the job’s basic keyboard typing requirements, your performance is going to be poor in spite of your positive attitude or your high level of motivation. When an employee has abilities that far exceed the requirements of the job, our predictions would be very different. The employee’s performance may be adequate, but it may be accompanied by organizational inefficiencies and possible declines in employee satisfaction because the employee is frustrated by the limitations of the job. Additionally, given that pay tends to reflect the highest skill level that employees possess, if an employee’s abilities far exceed those necessary to do the job, management will be paying more than it needs to pay. In a nutshell, an employee’s job specifications should be in line with his intellectual abilities. That way, he’ll be able to execute his duties excellently and effortlessly, as well as obtaining maximum job satisfaction.

Discuss the concept of personality and the factors that affect its development.

To social scientists, personality is the sum total of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and values that are characteristic of an individual. Our personality traits determine how we adjust to our environment and how we react in specific situations. No two individuals have the same personalities. Each individual has his or her own way of interacting with other people and with his or her social environment.

The term personality represents the overall profile or combination of characteristics that capture the unique nature of a person as that person reacts and interacts with others and how he views himself. Personality combines a set of physical and mental characteristics that reflect how a person looks, thinks, acts, and feels. An understanding of personality contributes to an understanding of organizational behavior in that we expect a predictable interplay between an individual’s personality and his or her tendency to behave in certain ways.

Personality Traits and Classifications

Numerous lists of personality characteristics describing an individual’s behavior, have been developed, many of which have been used in OB research and can be looked at in different ways. First, recent research has examined people using extensive lists of personality dimensions and distilled them into the “Big Five Personality Traits:”

•Extraversion— outgoing, sociable, assertive

•Agreeableness— Good-natured, trusting, cooperative

•Conscientiousness— Responsible, dependable, persistent

•Emotional stability— unworried, secure, relaxed

•Openness to experience— Imaginative, curious, broad-minded

A second approach to looking at OB personality traits is to divide them into social traits, personal conception traits, and emotional adjustment traits, and then to consider how those categories come together dynamically.

  • Social traits are surface-level traits that reflect the way a person appears to others when interacting in various social settings. Problem-solving style, based on the work of Carl Jung, a noted psychologist, is one measure representing social traits. It reflects the way a person goes about gathering and evaluating information in solving problems and making decisions.
  • The personal conception traits represent the way individuals tend to think about their social and physical setting as well as their major beliefs and personal orientation concerning a range of issues. An important personal conceptions trait of special importance to managers is self-monitoring. Self-monitoring reflects a person’s ability to adjust his or her behavior to external, situational (environmental) factors.
  • The emotional adjustment traits measure how much an individual experiences emotional distress or displays unacceptable acts

Personality and self-concept

Collectively, the ways in which an individual integrates and organizes the previously discussed categories and the traits they contain are referred to as Personality dynamics. It is this category that makes personality more than just the sum of the separate traits. A key personality dynamic in the study of OB is the self-concept. We can describe the self-concept as the view individuals have of themselves as physical, social, and spiritual or moral beings. It is a way of recognizing oneself as a distinct human being. A person’s self-concept is greatly influenced by his or her culture.

Two related and crucial aspects of the self-concept are self-esteem and self-efficacy. Self-esteem is a belief about one’s own worth based on an overall self-evaluation. People high in self-esteem see themselves as capable, worth-while, and acceptable and tend to have few doubts about themselves. The opposite is true of a person low in self-esteem. Some OB research suggests that, whereas high self-esteem generally can boost performance and human resource maintenance, when under pressure, people with high self-esteem may become boastful and act egotistically. They also may be overconfident at times and fail to obtain important information. Self-efficacy, sometimes called the “effectance motive,” is a more specific version of self-esteem; it is an individual’s belief about the likelihood of successfully completing a specific task. You could be high in self-esteem, yet have a feeling of low self-efficacy about performing a certain task, such as public speaking.

Personality Determinants and Development

Heredity and the Environment

To what is the development of ones personality owed? Just what determines personality? Is personality inherited or genetically deter-mined, or is it formed by experience? You may have heard someone say some-thing like, “She acts like her mother. Similarly, someone may argue that “Bobby is the way he is because of the way he was raised”. These two arguments illustrate the nature/nurture controversy: Is personality determined by heredity, that is, by genetic endowment, or by one’s environment? These two forces actually operate in combination. While Heredity consists of those factors that are determined at conception, including physical characteristics, gender, and personality factors, Environment consists of cultural, social, and situational factors.

The impact of heredity on personality continues to be the source of considerable debate. Perhaps the most general conclusion we can draw is that heredity sets the limits on just how much personality characteristics can be developed; environment determines development within these limits.

Time

People’s personalities continue to develop throughout their lifetimes. Specific traits change at different rates and to different degrees. Some personality traits seem to remain constant throughout a person’s life, while others undergo dramatic changes. Personality development is more obvious during childhood, when people are experiencing rapid physical, emotional, and intellectual growth. At adulthood, personality traits change at a slower rate. However personality development varies form individual to individual. The developmental approaches of Chris Argyris, Daniel Levinson, and Gail Sheehy systematically examine the ways personality develops across time. Argyris notes that people develop along a continuum of dimensions from imma-turity to maturity. Levinson and Sheehy maintain that an individual’s personality unfolds in a series of stages across time. implications are that personalities develop over time and require different managerial responses. Thus needs and other personality aspects of people, initially entering an organization change sharply as they move through different stages or toward increased maturity.

The study of organizational behaviour enables managers to become more effective at their job. Discuss this statement?

Organizational Behavior can be seen as a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups and structures have on behavior within an organization, to enable applying this knowledge towards improving organizational effectiveness. Organizational Behavior is an important concept for any organization, since it deals with the three determinants of behavior in organizations: Individuals, Groups and Structure. Organizational Behavior then applies the knowledge gained about individuals, groups and the effect of structure on behavior in order to make organizations work more effectively. In a nut shell, OB is concerned with the study of what people do in an organization and how their behavior affects the organizations performance. Seeing as OB is concerned with employee related situations, it tends to emphasize behavior related to jobs, work, absenteeism, employment turnover, human performance and management. The organization’s base rests on management’s philosophy, values, vision and goals. This in turn drives the organizational culture which is composed of the formal organization, informal organization, and the social environment. The culture determines the type of leadership, communication, and group dynamics within the organization. The workers perceive this as the quality of work life which directs their degree of motivation. The final outcomes are performance, individual satisfaction, and personal growth and development. All these elements combine to build the model or framework that the organization operates from. The ability to use the tools of organizational behavior to understand behavior in organizations is one reason for studying this subject. A second reason is to learn how to apply these concepts, theories, and techniques to improve behavior in organizations so that individuals, groups, and organizations can achieve their goals. Managers are challenged to find new ways to motivate and coordinate employees to ensure that their goals are aligned with organizational goals. Organizational Behavior addresses the following points:

•           Organizational behavior studies the factors that impact individual and group behavior in organizations and how organizations manage their environments. Organizational behavior provides a set of tools, theories and concepts to understand, analyze, describe, and manage attitudes and behavior in organizations.

•           The study of organizational behavior can improve and change individual, group, and organizational Behavior to attain individual, group, and organizational goals.

•           Organizational behavior can be analyzed at three levels: the individual, the group, and the Organization as a whole. A full understanding must include an examination of behavioral factors at each level.

A manager’s job is to use the tools of organizational behavior to increase effectiveness, and the organization’s ability to achieve its goal. Management is the process of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling an organization’s human, financial, material, and other resources to increase its effectiveness. In view of the fact that OB is the grounds on which an organization builds itself, Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology play a vital role in understanding workplace behavior and employee related situations.

Psychology – is a science which seeks to measure, explain and sometimes change the behavior of humans. Early organizational psychologists concerned themselves with the problems of fatigue, boredom, and other factors which could have an effect on efficient workforce performance. More recently, contributions in the field of organizational psychology have expanded to learning, perception, personality, emotions, job satisfaction, decision making processes, leadership, needs and motivational forces, employee selection techniques and job stress.

Sociology – Studies people in relation to their social environment or culture. Sociologists have contributed to OB through their study of group behavior in organizations, both formal and complex. Sociology has contributed to research on organizational culture, formal organization theory and structure, organizational techniques, communications, power and conflict.

Anthropology – is the study of societies to learn about human beings and their activities. Work on this field has helped understanding differences in fundamental values, attitudes and behavior between people in different countries and within different organizations.

Organizational Behavior is an indigenous learning of techniques which deals with the knowledge gained about individuals, groups and the effect of structure on behavior in order to make organizations work more effectively. Through these methods a budding manager can gain several virtues to induce personal growth of self and group related issues. Since managers are individuals who achieve goals through other people, OB makes us aware of the various roles we need to play as managers to encourage the workforce to work with more satisfaction and profitability. As managers we will participate in several roles, mainly:

Interpersonal Roles:

Figurehead: All managers are required to perform duties that are ceremonial and symbolic in nature, representing the organization/unit to outsiders.

Leader: All managers also have a leadership role. This role includes hiring, training, motivating employees, disciplining employees and unifying efforts.

Informational Roles:

Monitor: Managers monitor the flow of information. All managers, to some degree, collect information from outside organizations and institutions. And Transmit necessary information to outsiders.

Disseminator: Managers then act as a conduit to transmit info to organizational members.

Decisional role:

Managers initiate and design change. They allocate resources and negotiate on behalf of the organization. Here managers deal with various affairs such as, overseeing new projects, taking corrective measure in an unforeseen event and discuss issues and bargain with other units to gain advantages for their own unit.

These roles demand a deep understanding of human behavior in both individual and group forms, and so OB provides us with the means of tackling these issues with confidence. Understanding OB has never been more important for managers than it is today. In today’s world, the people of earth are much closer than before and managers need to deal with a vast array of diversities, such as,

•           Culture

•           Demography

•           Religion

•           Higher demand of customer satisfaction

•           Coping with rapid changes in technology

•           Balancing Stress related lifestyle of the workers

•           Ethical behavior

As a manager, the teachings of OB can significantly increase one’s personal sensibilities and outlook on these attributes;

1.         Working with people from different cultures:

What might seem motivating to a manager might not appeal to his workforce at all. Or a manager’s style of communication may be straightforward, but the workforce may find it threatening and uncomfortable. As a manager one must learn how to adapt his managerial style to their cultural, geographic and religious disparities.

2.         Workforce diversity:

Organizations are increasingly becoming a more heterogeneous mix of people in terms of gender, race, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation. No longer can these disparities and clichés be ignored, these people are in the real world educated and ready to work. So mangers must recognize the fact that they don’t leave their lifestyles, cultural values and perception at home, so we as managers must learn to accommodate this diverse group of people by addressing their different lifestyles, family needs and work styles.

3.         Customer Service:

Many an organization has failed because its employees failed to please its customers. Management needs to create a customer-responsive culture. OB can provide considerable guidance in guidance in helping managers create such cultures- cultures in which employees are friendlier and courteous, accessible, knowledgeable and prompt in responding to customer needs, in order to please the patron.

4.        Ethics:

Today’s manager needs to create an ethically healthy climate for his employees, where they can work productively and confront a minimal level of uncertainty regarding what constitutes right and wrong behavior. Organizational behavior is the path to understanding how elements of the work place fall into place. As a nascent manager one can develop the self with the help of these learning’s and partake in managerial roles confidently.

To what extent and why should employees be regarded as one of many resources available to the organization, providing managers with the necessary labour needed to achieve objectives?

QUESTION
To what extent and why should employees be regarded as one of many resources available to the organization, providing managers with the necessary labour needed to achieve objectives?

ANSWER
Employees are an important resource of value to any organization. They are unique, and thus a source of core competence in an organization, hence, contributing to the competitive advantage that the organization has over its competitors.
The boards of directors or senior managers make decisions about where they want the organization to head, and how they would like this to happen by stating policies and timeframes to reach specified targets. However, these policies are acted upon by the employees. They are the ones representing the organization on the field, and actually achieve the objectives of the organization.
Just like tyres and pistons (the working parts) are to a car, so are the staff to the organization. The organization goes nowhere if these parts are not oiled correctly. By oiling, I mean the welfare of the employees, such as wages, adequate training and general working conditions should be a priority, as these will influence the way the employees portray the organization’s image.

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