Quite often we hear that because of unfavorable circumstances. management of a certain organization could not achieve the desired results. Close scrutiny of such an organization may reveal that the so-called adverse or unfavorable circumstances are the creation of some of the acts of the managers of the organization themselves. On the contrary, in a successfully running business organization, no manager remains behind the other while claiming the credit of its success. Here they claim that due to their concerted efforts and right management they could achieve for which they feel proud of themselves.
The two situations mentioned above clearly show that circumstances are not there favorable or unfavorable, as they are stated to be, but the managers have a great role to play in this phenomenon. Once Napoleon said – ‘What circumstances? I make circumstances.’
And hence the need for managers in any organization.
To start with, if a manager is needed at all, what happens when he is at work should be different from what would have happened if the things were left alone. If it is not so, who would like to employ them at all? Or give any credit to them? If society is concerned at all about management and what it means, then management should involve people other than the manager himself. In other words when talks about management one are concerned with what the manager “makes happen” to others. So a manager is a person who makes things happen to others and in turn to Organizations through them.
What kind of things should a manager ‘make happen’ to others? Let us take the example of a gangster. He does make things happen with the full cooperation of the members of his gang. Should we call him a good manager? A purely professional concept of management would perhaps rate him as one.
But then should any concept of management be so amoral, asocial, value-neutral, or clannish? Would society, in general, approve of such a manager? Apart from his immediate circle of colleagues and consumers, should not most sections of society at large feel what the manager is doing is good? Then at this stage, the definition of a manager would be a person who makes good things happen to others with the substantial co-operation of all the people involved.
Since resources are limited
The results expected from a manager involve effort and consumption of some resources. Since resources are limited. the society can not afford to waste them. No manager has, therefore, the right either to waste resources entrusted to him or poach on another manager’s resources. Thus a manager is one who is efficient in making good things happen to others with the substantial cooperation of all the people involved. The term professional management is as widely misunderstood as it is used.
Management is a discipline. Just as doctors and lawyers are professionals there are professional managers, too. The only difference between them is while the former have to obtain a formal degree in their discipline, the latter need not have a formal degree in management. In the following discussion, an attempt has been made to clarify the various tasks, society expects from a professional manager to be performed.
A manager is what a captain is to the ship. He has first to set the course to reach the destination and then steer the ship along the course. Once the objectives are decided the manager must constantly monitor the progress and activities, till the goal is reached. His attention needs to be focussed all along the course.
The jungle law ‘survival of the fittest is equally applicable to the competitive market, we are finding ourselves in, today. Ensuring survival is critical but not the only task of a manager. Simultaneously he has to achieve growth. How-so-ever big an organization may be, it is sure to be left behind in the race by newer, healthier, and more efficient ones if it does not pursue growth. Both internal and external factors affect the survival and growth of any organization. Internal factors are choice of technology, the efficiency of workers, competencies of managerial staff, company image, financial resources, etc. These are by and large controllable.
But the external factors such as government policy, laws, and regulations. changing customers’ preferences. attitudes and values, increasing competition, etc. affect to a greater extent and organizations have to be robust enough to meet the challenges posed by these factors.
Efficiency and profit generation.
Efficiency is the ratio of output to the input. A manager has not only to perform and produce results but do so in the most efficient manner. The more output that the manager can produce with the same input the greater will be the profit generated. Any business organization has to make profits for its survival and growth. Profits are one of the cheapest resources of financial growth as they don’t involve any cost in terms of interest etc. Profit gives the cushion to take risks, think big, and venture into a new arena of activities.
Facing competition is a very critical task of every manager. It is increasing day by day in terms of more competition, more products, variety of products, better informed and aware customer than ever before. The increasing reach of mass media has enabled easy access to customers but at the same time market is crowded with many competitors wooing the same customers.
Innovation is finding new. different and better ways of doing existing tasks Status quo should be avoided. Managers should feel hunger for innovation. It helps to add value to the existing product or service. Value is expressed in terms of the difference it makes to the customer.
Man is the most critical resource of any organization. No amount of money, materials, and machines can produce results by themselves. Men are needed to manage them. Machines can be programmed to take over routine, repetitive, programmed jobs but again human brain only can program them.
Once US President Ronald Reagan in 1986 put forth the advice to practicing managers ‘surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.
Quite often we hear managers complaining about the scarcity of good people. It is really a paradoxical situation that we have so much unemployment on the one hand and on the other, it is genuinely difficult to find the right sort of people. The manager should constantly be on the lookout for people with the potential to create his team.
However competent or brilliant individuals may be. If they can not work together, as a team, they are of not much use to the organization.
Inculcating a culture of efficiency.
Each individual is unique and his degree of expertise at handing
various aspects of work vary from that of another. Similarly, every individual’s needs, drive, and desires also vary and their behavior is directed towards the achievement of his own goals, Manager has to influence their needs and mold them in such a way that employees, the identity they own needs with that of the organization. Such a feeling goes a long way in boosting the productivity of employees.
Managing change is of paramount importance in the fast-changing world of technology. More so now that AI is on the verge of replacing humans. A manager has to maintain a balance between creativity and conformity, innovation and tradition. New ideas sometimes look very rosy but require much more to translate into reality. The change will always be there. Disruptive plans/actions sometimes may prove disastrous if implemented without proper planning and identifying exit routes.
It is the manager’s task that the change is introduced with the least disturbance and resistance.
These are only certain steps, which, If taken in all its seriousness will help a manager to have his presence felt at the organizational scene, in a positive manner.
Having gone through the above discussion one will appreciate that managers make difference in the situation. They understand, grasp, influence, and create the circumstances which are required for the achievement of organizational goals. Achievement of the goals is the most appropriate rationale behind the existence of a manager.
Therefore, finding the right people, developing them according to the needs of the organization, and taking everyone together is the foremost job of a manager. If he wants to succeed.
Because again, what happens when he is at work should be different from what would happen, if things were left alone. The choice is between remaining in control of circumstances or becoming a manager hit by circumstances.
Let us not be the latter – The Circumstantial Manager.
Written by M K Bajaj.
General Manager (Retd.). Pune.
Central Bank Of India.