Aspects of Management In the Workforce
There are often different approaches to management in the workforce. The type of management that is best is always up for debate and has been for many years. Oftentimes, when one thinks of management they will think of the corporate level of an organization or that management is concentrated at the top of the organization. That is not always the case because a manager is anyone who works to guide or direct the efforts of others to accomplish mutual goals (Pringle 13). In most companies, there are three different levels at which managers are found: lower, middle, and top (which will be more focused on than the former two). There are also many different roles, functions, and skills of management.
Lower, Middle, and Top Managers
In lower management, managers work closely with employees to supervise their work. They are in charge of the employees who are directly under them and they are also responsible in reporting to the next level of management (Pringle 13).
Middle managers are primarily responsible for carrying out certain activities that work in favor of the overall goals of the company. In broadcast stations, middle managers are considered to be the department heads because they oversee a department and then also report to the general manager (GM) (Pringle 13).
Top managers organize activities of the company and provide overall direction for the accomplishment of the company’s goals. In a broadcast station, top management would include the GM. The GM is responsible for carrying out the objectives of the station’s owners. They are responsible for organizing resources (human and physical) in a way that the stations objectives can and will be accomplished (Pringle 13).
All three levels of managers have many different roles, which are broken up into three different categories by Henry Mintzberg. He identified that in interpersonal roles a manager can be a liaison, figurehead, and/or a leader. A manager will use the interpersonal roles to provide information to their employees. The interpersonal roles are concerned primarily with interpersonal relationships (Allen 1998).
In a broadcast station, the general manager is the liaison (or “middle-man”) between the station’s owners and its employees. The liaison can also be responsible for external company relations such as community groups, program suppliers, and other stations. As a figurehead in a broadcast station, the GM is responsible for signing documents to be submitted to the FCC and representing the station at community events, among others. As a leader, the GM must establish a certain atmosphere for the workplace and guide and motivate employees (Pringle 20).
There are also three informational roles through which a manger will process information. The GM acts as the spokesperson for the station, speaking on behalf of the organization at events, like a news conference. A GM can also be a disseminator by distributing external information to company members and internal information from one subordinate to another. As a monitor, a manager receives and collects information about the station. (i.e. latest sales report or threats of a demonstration against the station) (Pringle 20).
The third category consists of four decisional roles. The manager initiates change in the entrepreneur role. If a station is somehow threatened, the manager will deal with it as a disturbance handler. In the third role, as a resource allocator, the manager (GM) chooses where the organization will apply its efforts. In addition, the top manager negotiates deals for the organization (Allen 1998).
Varying Functions and Roles of a Manager
Generally speaking, many managers will play many roles at a time. A manager could be a spokesperson, negotiator, and a resource allocator all at the same time. The top manager, or general manager will take on the roles and make decisions for or about the company as a whole, but a supervisor or department head will make decisions about their own department utilizing all of the roles discussed above (Allen 1998).
There are also many different functions to being a manager. A manager must plan, organize, direct, and control based on the needs of the company. These functions are interdependent, interrelated and goal-directed.
Planning is creating a system for team members to follow by working together to achieve the goals of the company (Allen 1998). Part of the planning process includes determining the goals of the organization. The objectives can be economical such as expenses, profit or revenues. Service objectives include what kind of programming the audience will enjoy—how the station will contribute to the community. There are also personal objectives—the individual desires of employees within the station. All of the objectives must be controllable, attainable, measurable and have a deadline (Pringle 14).
The organizing function involves putting together the necessary resources (employees, technology, etc) to execute the plan. It includes establishing relationships among employees and obtaining the correct and right amount of resources in order to carry out the goals of the organization. As Pringle and Starr stated, “organizing involves the division of work into specialties and the grouping of employees with specialized responsibilities into departments.” (14).
As a director, a manager must guide, lead, and oversee employees to ensure that the goals are being accomplished in a timely, efficient manner (Allen 1998). Influencing or directing includes communication, motivation, training and personal influence. A manager must somehow motivate employees to do their job, to get them to want to do their job and do it well. This can be accomplished through praise and recognition, fair and competent supervision, challenge of the job, and opportunities for advancement. A manager must also communicate objectives of the company to the employees—information they need and want. If they do not know what they are working toward, how will they be able to accomplish the company objectives? Many employees also need to be trained to do their job, otherwise the employee’s performance will negatively affect the performance of the company. A manager can also personally influence their employees through commanding respect, loyalty, and cooperation (Pringle 17-19).
Finally, a manager must control results—making sure that employee performance actually matches the plan. If results do not coincide with the plan, corrective action is considered and implemented when necessary (Allen 1998). The control process determines how much of the plan is actually being realized by the station as a whole, each department, and employees.
The next topic will be about management skills—perhaps the most important part of being a manager. In order to perform management functions and take on multiple roles, managers need to have certain skills. There are three different managerial skills that are important for successful management as identified by Robert Katz. These are conceptual, technical, and human skills.
Conceptual skills deal with the development of ideas, an understanding of complex relationships, and solving problems with a creative solution (Allen 1998). As Pringle and Starr mentioned on page 22, conceptual skill is, “the ability to see the enterprise as a whole and the dependence of one part on the others.” The GM must recognize the interdependence of each department. In a broadcast station, the GM must also recognize the importance of the relationship of the station to the rest of the broadcast world, the community, and to political, social, and economic forces because of these outside sources contribute to decisions that are made within the station (Pringle 22).
Technical skill is made up of knowing how to do something—how machinery works, how the employees work together, etc (Allen 1998). Managers, especially a GM, must have a knowledge, general ability, and analytical ability of the tools and techniques of a certain kind of task or activity. A manager is not required to have the ability to perform all of the tasks at hand, but at least an understanding of what needs to be done in order to ask questions and analyze the answers given (Pringle 21).
Human skill is the ability to effectively interact with people and build a cooperative effort, and perhaps the most important. Each level of management needs to have the skill to influence the people below them through motivation, encouraging and demonstrating loyalty and mutual respect, and creating job satisfaction (Pringle 22).
Each skill is important, but it also depends on a manager’s level within the organization. Generally, top level managers (in this case, the GM), should possess conceptual skills so they can picture the organization as a whole. Department heads (middle management) definitely need technical skills in order to manage their department or specialty. Every member of management needs human skills in order to successfully communicate and interact with other people (Allen 1998).
In addition to these skills, desirable personal qualities are also important for a successful manager. One of them is foresight, or the ability to foresee or anticipate events and to prepare appropriately. They must also possess wisdom in choosing alternate courses of action and the courage to follow through on those actions. Managers must also be flexible to accept and adapt to change. Honesty and integrity are important in dealing with employees or people not associated with the station. Responsiveness and responsibility (communication and respect) to employees, advertisers, and to the owners of the station are extremely important (Pringle 22).
Each skill, function, role, and level of management is important in any kind of business. The general manager, as the top manager in a station, must have an overall understanding and knowledge of how the station works. He or she must have the ability to motivate those who work below them and communicate the wants and needs of the company to the employees. As middle management, department heads must work together and motivate their employees to work together because without teamwork and mutual respect, the company is unsuccessful. Overall, each manager must be knowledgeable (and talented) with the skills, roles, functions they will encounter and take on throughout each day to make the station successful.
Allen, Gemmy. Supervision: Management Modern. 1998. DCCCD. 12 February 2008.
Pringle, Peter K., and Michael F. Starr. Electronic Media Management. 5th ed. (p. 14-22)
Massachusetts: Focal Press, 2006.