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In their existences, organizations and companies are constantly being pressured by the competitive forces around them to increase their productivity and raise their performance levels. This is especially the case in the present day business environment which is rife with aggressive behavior and rampant competition which force businesses to look for innovative means to give them a competitive advantage therefore assure that they are not forced out of the market. In this environment, the role of management is more important than ever.
Managers are the people who are taxed with the role of marshalling the human resource in the organization for its growth and expansion. Mintzberg (2009, 44) asserts that management does not entail one individual role e.g. learning or controlling, but rather a set of attributed which are blended together to create an effective manager. This paper shall evaluate the management competency of Bruce Smith by using Mintzberg’s theory of ‘what managers do’ so as to demonstrate that Bruce is a competent manager.
Analysis of Bruce Using Mintzberg’s Theory
According to Mintzberg, there are ten roles that are associated with a manager. These roles provide a complete set of behaviors within a business environment and when they are integrated, they provide the capabilities and competencies which are desirable in any manager.
One can therefore utilize Mintzberg’s theory to deduce whether one is a competent or incompetent manager. The first interpersonal role that Mintzberg proposes that a manager should fulfill is the figurehead role which involves the manager performing ceremonial and social duties on behalf of the organization (Koontz & Weihrich 2006, p.16).
Bruce fulfills this role effectively by being a symbol of status and authority. As a result of his being the figurehead, Bruce is respected and obeyed by his subordinates who are keen to follow his instructions. Bruce is also able to solicit for contracts with local schools on behalf of the company (case study).
Another interpersonal role suggested by Mintzberg which Bruce fulfils is the leadership role which requires that managers bring together the needs of an organization and those of the individuals under their command (Pugh & Hickson 2007, p.44).
One of Bruce’s staff, Stephen Dye says that “Bruce is a very good leader in a tight spot” (case study). Another strength in Bruce’s management is his ability to motivate his employees. Scot defines motivation as a “process of stimulating people to action to accomplish desired goals” (Kondalkar 2002, p.245).
Considering the fact that the manager is tasked with marshalling the organizations’ resources to accomplish some goals, it is the role of the manager to ensure that the employees have a high degree of motivation in their performance.
Leonard Best reveals that “Once a month, at morning tea, Bruce gives an award to a member of the team who has done an outstanding job for the past month” (case study). This gesture results in the employees feeling good and they are therefore more likely to work towards achieving the goals of the organization.
A major strength in Bruce management abilities can be seen from his ability to perform Mintzberg’s liaison role which involves horizontal relationships especially with outsiders. Pugh and Hickson (2006, p.44) declare that a manager has to maintain a network of relationships outside of the organization.
Pugh and Hickson (2006, p.44) declare that a manager has to maintain a network of relationships outside of the organization. Even Helen Davis who is one of his detractors acknowledges Bruce’s liaison’s abilities by stating that Bruce “has fantastic networks in the industry and is able to keep on top of changes in the technology and the markets really well” (case study).
A major setback to Bruce’s management is seen in his treatment of employees from the other sections in the organization where he fails to perform Mintzberg’s disseminator role. Bruce’s ability to communicate with other sections of the business such as the sales and packaging unit is clearly lacking as he does not see the value of sharing information across departments.
Bruce seems uninterested in cultivating better relationships and communication flows within the organization outside his section. According to Bruce “It is my job to manage the printing section and that is what I do. I deal with the sales and packaging sections as I need to. I am not here to baby sit the people in sales or packaging” (case study). Such a confession suggests that Bruce lacks proper interdepartmental communication and is therefore a poor manager.
Bruce acts as a good public relations officer for the company therefore fulfilling the last informational role proposed by Mintzberg, the spokesperson role, which involves “transmitting information to those outside the organization” (Koontz & Weihrich 2006, p.16). In his public relations capacity, Bruce informs the outside world which includes the clients of offers by the companies and lobbies the outsides to act in a manner that is favorable for the business.
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Bruce’s ability to come up with new ways for the organization to conduct business is to be applauded therefore demonstrating his ability to fulfill Mintzberg’s entrepreneurial roles (Koontz & Weihrich 2006, p.149). Helen Davis states that it was Bruce’s idea for the company to break into small print job market so as to deal with the competition brought about by the large printing companies which had moved into the organizations region.
By acting in this manner, Bruce initiated change to take advantage of opportunities that presented themselves therefore helping the organization to avoid being edged out by the competition. This is a thought that is corroborated by Drucker (2004, p.5) who asserts that good managers focus on opportunities rather than problems since opportunities produce positive results to the organization.
Through his dealings with the employees in his department, Bruce shows his competence in one of Mintzberg’s Decision role of managers which is the disturbance-handler role (Koontz & Weihrich 2006, 16). As a disturbance-handler, a manager is expected to take proper charge when an organization is faced with crises or uncertainties which result in a break in the calmness.
One of Bruce’s staff, Stephen Dye declares that “if we have a crises like a problem with the computer or the inks or paper, Bruce is very good at getting the problem solved with a minimum of fuss” (case study).
London (2002, p.259) asserts that contentions are bound to occur in any organization and that the manner in which this issues are diffused may spell out the difference between the subsequent success or failure of the organization. Bruce’s ability to diffuse tensions in a diplomatic fashion is therefore crucial to the success of the company.
Bruce acts as a negotiator when he makes deals with customers on behalf of the company so as to prevent the customers from soliciting the services of the big printing companies. Negotiation involves exchange of proposals and demands so as to reach a position that is agreeable to both parties.
As a negotiator, Bruce offer reduced pricing for schools so as to entice them to use the services provided by his company. Bruce’s negotiator role could be a major asset to the company only that he undercuts the department associated with making sales and this causes conflict to rise between him and the department of sales and finances.
Analysis of Bruce Using Henri Fayol’s Theory
Henri Fayol (1949) divided the managerial activity into five major elements which are: planning, organization, commending, co-ordination and controlling (Griffin 2007, p.12). Bruce fulfils this control element stipulated by Henri Fayol in his dealing within the organization.
Controlling involves verifying that everything goes according to plan and the instructions given. Bruce practices control by making sure that his subordinates work as instructed. Alex Brown who works in the printery section states that Bruce is “not afraid to confront people if their performance is unsatisfactory” (case study).
Bruce demonstrates his competence by following one of the elements in Fayol’s definition of management which is commanding. Commanding is the “process of maintaining activity among the personnel” so as to obtain the optimum returns from the employees (Pugh & Hickson 2007, p.145). However, Bruce’s commanding is not appreciated by the members of the other sections who find him abrasive. Mike Willesee laments that Bruce is “always abrupt in his dealings and he just spits out his orders” (case study).
The ability to plan which means “examining the future and drawing up the plan of action” is one of the elements of good management according to Fayol, and this is a quality that Bruce possesses (Pugh & Hickson 2007, p.145).
Bruce in particular displayed his planning abilities when he developed a plan of action for the business to get contracts at a time when some of the clients were snatched by the larger printing companies. This move by Bruce resulted in sales income for the business therefore enabling the business to make profits and therefore stay in business.
Fayol highlighted organizing as one of the elements which key to effective management. To organize meant providing the material and human resources that was necessary to carry out organizational activities. Bruce exhibits exemplary organizational skills since he is able to marshal the organizational resources to achieve organizational goals. Alex Brown praises Bruce by stating that “Bruce is good at getting the best out of the printery team.
He always makes sure we have the training and support we need” (case study). This demonstrates that Bruce will go to great lengths to ensure that the employees in his department have the necessary tools to make them productive for the good of the entire organization.
One major incompetence exhibited by Bruce based on Fayol’s elements of good management is his lack of coordinating which involves “binding together, unifying and harmonizing all activity and effort” (Pugh & Hickson 2007, p.145). Coordinating results in the getting of the optimum returns from all employees and this is a task that Bruce clearly fails in.
Helen Davis accuses Bruce of acting without consulting the Sales team therefore causing some problems with some of the company’s customers who are comparing prices. Bruce is also accused of keeping the other departments in the dark as to his dealings and Helen Davis goes as far as to say that “Bruce is an utter nightmare to work with” (case study).
Discussion and Conclusion
From the discussion raised in this paper, it is evident that Bruce is a manager with both strengths and weaknesses. One of the reason why Bruce is labeled as an incompetent manager is because of his curt treatment of the other department members.
Mike Willesee in particular states that “anyone who has time for those ridiculous monthly morning teas that he has with his staff is just not busy enough” (case study). This is a wrong conclusion since these motivational efforts by Bruce are of great importance to the company since they increase the productivity of Bruce’s employees.
Despite Bruce failing in some of his managerial roles such as the disseminator role, Bruce portrays strong leadership skills which the manager in the other department fails to acknowledge. Gosling and Mintzberg (2003, p.55) warn that it is very dangerous to separate leadership from management when thinking about the organization since both entities play a crucial role in organizational development. With this in mind, the management skills that Bruce possesses must be looked at with reference to his leadership abilities as well.
Mintzberg regards the most crucial part of managerial activity as that concerned with making decision (Pugh & Hickson 2007, p.44). While Bruce has some failures in the interpersonal roles and the informational roles when dealing with the employees from the other departments, he carries out the decision role with great competence.
This being the case, it can be suggested that Bruce’s management skills are not an utter failure since he performs the core managerial duties with great effectiveness. The fact that some of the bigger printing companies have tried to entice Bruce into working for them clearly demonstrates that Bruce is seen as a valuable asset in the industry.
Considering all the roles as forwarded by Mintzberg’s theory of ‘what managers do’, it is clear that Bruce’s strengths far overshadow his weaknesses. It can therefore be stated that Bruce is a competent manager.
From the evaluations provided in this paper it is clear that Bruce is not a perfect manager and something needs to be done about his shortcomings. His major shortcoming which is his relationship with other departments needs to be worked on since it is currently a source of strife and prevents Bruce from being the totally competent manager that he can be.
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