The Profile of Effective Manager

The manager. Manager's job. Critical skills related to managerial competence. The main characteristics of the effective manager. Decision Making Skills. Conflict Management Skills. Flexibility and Creativity.

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1. The manager

Managers work in an organization. Therefore, before we can identify who managers are, it is important to clarify the term organization. Robbins S.P. (1991) defines an organization as: a systematic arrangement of people to accomplish some specific purpose. We can divide organizational members into two categories Management, By: Robbins, S.P., 1991, , Prentice-Hall, Inc, p. 4.: operatives or managers. Managers differ from operatives, by the fact that they direct the activities of others.

There are two big classifications of managers Begrippen van Management, By: Jegers M., Moenaert R., Verbeke A., 1994, , VUB-press, p.17.: the horizontal classification only looks at the responsibilities. We can distinguish the functional manager and the general manager. The functional manager is responsible for a whole of similar activities, for example, financial director, commercial director While the general manager is responsible for different functional areas, he is often concentrated on one business activity and acts as a product manager or a division manager. In the vertical classification, we need to differentiate first-line managers, middle managers, and top managers. The difference between these three groups is based on the statute of subordinates.

Furthermore, we should pay attention to the difference between a successful and an effective manager. As Luthans F. (1988) proved, a successful manager is not necessary an effective manager. The former is a manager, who has been promoted relatively quickly, while the latter has satisfied, committed subordinates and high performing units. In general, we could say that an effective manager is one who attains the organizational goals.

1.1. Manager's job

It was Henry Fayol, in the early part of this century, who was the first to give a global view about the job of manager. He observed that managers performed 5 management functions: they plan, organize, command, coordinate and control. In the mid-1950s, these management functions were reduced to the basic four known as the management process.

Figure 1 shows that the tasks of a manager consists of planning, organizing, leading and controlling.

Figure 1: Management Functions

Source: Management, By: Robbins, S.P., 1991, , Prentice-Hall, Inc, p. 4

The planning component encompasses defining the goals, establishing appropriate strategies, and developing different plans to coordinate the activities. Furthermore, managers are responsible for designing an organization's structure, which clarifies what must be done and by whom. As the job of manager implies directing activities of others, the leading function is very important. It consists of motivating subordinates, resolving conflicts and selecting effective communication channels. Eventually, a manager has a controlling function. He has to ensure that the assumed goals will be achieved. Therefore the manager has to monitor the different activities. Also keep in mind that an effective manager must be able to perform all four activities simultaneously.

Only recently has this classical view of managers been challenged based on the observations of five CEO's. Mintzberg H. (1971) concluded that the manager's job consisted of many brief and disjointed episodes with people inside and outside the organization. In addition to these insights, Mintzberg provided a categorization scheme for defining what managers do based on actual managers on the job. Mintzberg shows that managers play different but highly interrelated roles The nature of Managerial work By: Mintzberg H., 1973, , New York, Harper&Row, p. 93-94..

Formal authority gives rise to the three interpersonal roles (figurehead, leader, and liaison), which in turn gives rise to the three informational roles (monitor, disseminator, spokesman). These two sets of roles enable the manager to play the four decisional roles. We should also mention that the importance of managerial roles varies depending on the manager's level in the organization.

Another best known modern view of managerial work is provided by John Kotter which is based on his observatory The General Managers, By: Kotter J.P.,1982, , New York Free Press. of 15 successful general managers. Kotter stated that managers spend most of their time interacting with others and concluded that managers spent considerable time in meetings getting and giving information. By obtaining relevant and needed information from his network, the effective manager is able to implement his or her agenda.

1.2. Critical skills related to managerial competence

In the `70s, researcher Robert Katz tried to find an answer to the question: What are the critical skills that are related to managerial competence? He discovered that managers should possess 4 critical management skills. Those skills can be categorized in two big groups Skills of an effective administrator, By: Katz R.L., 1974, , Harvard Business Reiew 52.: general skills and specific skills. There seems to be overall agreement that effective managers must be proficient in four general skills areas Management, By: Robbins, S.P., 1991, , Prentice-Hall, Inc, p. 4.:

Conceptual skills: the ability to analyse complex situations and to provide the necessary knowledge to facilitate the decision-making.

Interpersonal skill: as a manager you should be able to direct others, so motivation, communication and delegation skills are absolutely needed.

Technical skills: the ability to apply specialized knowledge or expertise

Political skills: the ability to build the right relationships with the right persons. Those connections result in higher chances of getting additional resources and power.

The proportions in which those skills are necessary vary with the manager's level in the organization. Conceptual skills become more and more important as we grow in the hierarchy of the organization, while technical skills become less important. Interpersonal skills are necessary on every level, because a manager always works with people.

Research has also identified six sets of specific skills that explain 50% of manager effectiveness:

Controlling the organization's environment and its resources

Organizing and coordinating

Handling information

Providing for growth and development

Motivating employees and handling conflicts

Strategic problem solving

In `The General Managers (1983), John Kotter, concluded that effective managers have strong specialised interest, skills, knowledge and relationships. These specialised personal assets allow them to behave in ways that fit the demands of their specific situations. Such specialization seems to have been central to their ability to cope with the often huge demands placed upon them by their jobs.

The many personal characteristics that helped contribute to good performance were developed over the entire period of the manager's life. In terms of basic personality we can observe The General Managers, By: Kotter J.P.,1982, , New York Free Press, p. 36.:

Needs/motives: like power, need for achievement, very ambitious

Temperament: emotionally stable and even, optimistic

Cognitive orientation: above average intelligence, moderately strong analytically, strong intuitively

Interpersonal orientation: personable and good at developing relationships with people, unusual set of interest that allows them to relate easily to a broad set of business specialist.

Information: very good knowledge about the business and organization

Relationships: cooperative relationships with a large number of people in the organization

Kotter concluded that in the stipulation for being an effective manager, there should be a match between the demands of the job and the individual characteristics. So for organizations it is a challenge to put the right man on the right place. Depending on the role a manager has to play in an organization, we need an individual with other characteristics. For example, Kotter found that in jobs where the relationships were more demanding and accomplishing things more difficult, the general manager was someone with a strong personable style, skill at developing relationships, a liking of power, an emotionally even temperament, an ability to relate to a diverse group of business specialist, and extensive relationships in their organization and industry.

2. The main characteristics of the effective manager

In the following part we will discuss some of the main manager's characteristics based on the theories which were discussed in the first part of our paper. We have summarized different visions and found out that all theories named the following important characteristics:

Decision making skills

Conflict Management skills

Flexibility and creativity

Developing of managerial knowledge and manager's teaching role

Motivation of employees

Communication skills

Developing trust inside the organization

We will give a description of each characteristic including some important theories.

2.1. Decision Making Skills

Mangers are at the same time the decisions makers. It is easy to make decisions, but making the right one is difficult. What criteria should an effective manager have upon the decision-making aspect? Let's start with a simple review of the decision making process.

Decision-making is formally defined as the process of identifying and solving problems. The process containing 2 major stages: problem identification and problem solution. According to the rational approach, there are 8 steps for each stage: Organization Theory and Design, By Richard L. Daft, 2nd Edition,1983

Figure 2: Decision-making process

The point of rational approach is that manager should try to use systematic procedures to arrive at good decisions. Actually in practice, there are many uncertainties when applying this model to make decisions due to the following type of information constraints imposed up people: Actionable learning, By Terrence Morrison, Asia Development Bank Institute

Limited attention

Limited memory

Limited comprehension

Limits to communication

These, plus other factors, have given rise to the notion that rational process indecision is bounded. Herbert Simon, in this regard, has proposed that, within bounded rationality, individuals and groups often base their decisions on satisfying the search for what is good enough in the circumstances, rather than optimizing. Human Problem Solving By: Herbert Simon and R. Newel,NY:NORTON,1990 Often, managers have to face vast number of information and required to make a decision in a short time, it is impossible for him to analysis each problem and weigh each alternatives from the limited mental capacity. Extract from The Next big Idea By Carol Kennedy, Random House Business Books, Therefore there is a limit to how rational a manager can be.

Many models are built upon the uncertainty of the solution searching steps, while in all actuality managers are not making the decision in a vacuum. They can use formulas or models to aid their decision making process. Therefore, it is important for an effective manager to pay attention to the following points when making the decisions:

The intuitive decision-making process always plays an important role in combination with the rational process. Managers build up long experience with organizational issues, which provides them with a gut feeling or hunch about the correct response. The large organizational decisions are not only complex, but also ambiguous. In such a situation; previous experience and judgment are needed to incorporate intangible elements. Most of the time, without solid proof that problems exist, the intuition will tell the managers that there is or could be a problem that requires him to act before he is able to sit down and analyze the problem.

An effective manager knows how to cooperate with the internal and external resources. Of course, as decision-makers, the manager should not become an autocrat. Voice from internal will be listened, and sharing the opinions and having joint discussions to reach the interpretation of the goals and problems accordingly the agreement will be easier to reach and find solutions to the problem. External comments or reactions have great impact on decisions makers. On one hand, managers are easily misled by the hypothesis given from the external environment and can forget to look broader and further. On the other hand, proactively utilizing the external resource can help managers to see better and further; therefore, objective evaluation of those opinions will be helpful to generate wide range of the problem solving approach.

Creativity is vital to search for more alternatives during the crisis moment. When there are few possibilities to solve the problem, people can easily stick to the first seeming possible solution and start to convince themselves that there is no other better ones. Therefore they are stuck in the corner and forget to look for the other alternative. Dynamic thinking and radioactive mentality will help the manager to look the situation from a different view, there fore create the new approach.

An effective manager will not only look to the short-term profit. He sees further. He must be able to judge where the future business will be lead to from the decision made today. Those decisions, which bring profits today but will undermine business tomorrow, will be dropped.

The difficult decisions are always accompanied by the ethical issues. The best solution for the company's profit might not be the right ones according to the laws or regulations. On making decisions, the ethical dilemmas cannot be neglected, and the outcomes of unethical behavior can affect reputations, trust and career path. Results have been as severe as loss of employment, physical harm to individuals, corporate bankruptcy and even impacts to the economy.

The scandals of 2002, including Enron and WorldCom, resulted in regulations having created a cultural shift particularly in financial fields that has renewed emphasis on ethical business behavior. What distinguishes mediocre level managers from the truly effective managerial leader is an ethical dimension. There exists different moral stages that guide people in their everyday decision-making. Those people in the principled levelmake a clear effort to define moral principles apart from the authority of the groups to which they belong or society in general Essentials of Organizational Behavior. By, Robbins, Stephen P. New Jesrsey: Prentice Hall, 2002

Learn from the formal fail experience is very important. Managers are apt to stumble down the same failure-prone path over and over again without learning. Learning is thwarted when leaders do not tolerate mistakes. In such an environment, people conceal bad out comes. Consequently, people in the same company, or the same person in different period will repeat the similar mistake. A good manager will see the mistakes as an education and correct himself constantly according to the new situations. Generally speaking, to be an effective decision maker, managers need to work closely with their team and integrate their faith, values and business practices. Putting Spirituality to Work. By, Professor Kerns In the presentation we will use the case from Nestle Company to show why bad decisions had been made and what the consequences are. Why Decisions Fail By: Paul C. Nutt, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., San Francisco, CA,2002

2.2. Conflict Management Skills

According to Jean Miller from TIG (Taking It Global) Conflict is the source of all growth and is an absolute necessity if one is to be alive. Grant, Quacy. Conflict and Conflict Management. Taking It Global - An effective manager must be able to manage conflict and also learn from it to help the organization to grow and be challenged. Conflict is not always negative but can prove to have some positive outcomes as well. The effective manager can balance this delicate relationship and works hard to handle conflict with care.

As further stated in the article, conflict can be viewed as something to manage or something to resolve. John Burton, one of the world's leading scholars in the field of conflict resolution commented resolution means terminating conflict by methods that are analytical and that get to the root of the problem. Miller explains that conflict management is a multi-disciplinary, analytical, problem-solving approach to conflict that seeks to enable participants to work collaborately towards its management. Grant, Quacy. Conflict and Conflict Management. Taking It Global -

Conflict is not easily avoided in any organization; therefore, an effective manager is prepared by knowing how he will approach certain issues before they happen. There are many books and articles written that address this topic in great detail. An effective manager will consult these items and use his or her own judgment in taking the advice of these publications.

According to James Cribbin, there are three basic kinds of conflict as follows: Approach-Approach, Avoidance-Avoidance, and Approach-Avoidance. Cribbin, James J. Effective Managerial Leadership. American Management Association, Inc. USA: 1972

Approach-Approach would seem to be the most straight forward type of conflict as there are two alternatives that are equally feasible. If an employee is not being productive in the company this affects how the manager's boss views that department. The manager wants to please his boss but also stay on good terms with his employee. In each case the manager needs to approach the other person with open communication and deal with the situation.

Avoidance-Avoidance is very difficult because whatever decision is made to have negative consequences. If a manager knows that his boss is cheating the company financially, he must make a decision. Tell on his boss and suffer the wrath, or stay quiet and sacrifice his ethics. He would like to avoid the conflict on either side, but staying quiet may not be an option.

The last type of conflict according to Cribbin is Approach-Avoidance. He gives a clear example of a manager put in a situation in which he must make a decision that will affect himself and his family. He wants to approach the situation but also avoid it completely. He is given a great promotion in the company but must move his family from his nice comfortable town to a large metropolis city. Cribbin has outlined the options he has and portrays what a difficult situation this could really be:

1. Accept the position and move

2. Accept the position, leave the family in the small town and visit them on the weekends.

3. Bribe the family to make the move.

4. Ask the family to try to the new city for a year and then assess the situation.

5. He can refuse the promotion.

6. He can try to stall in making the decision and hope that something different will turn up.

7. He can try to convince his superiors that he can take the promotion and contribute more from where he already is.

8. He can get another job. Cribbin, James J. Effective Managerial Leadership. American Management Association, Inc. USA: 1972

While this is a personal conflict for this manager, the skills a manager uses to deal with personal conflict must be transferable to the workplace environment involving other employees as well as superiors. If a manager knows that there are always several options in dealing with a situation, he will be more open to choosing one that will work for that unique conflict.

As mentioned earlier, consistency is an important part of an effective manager and can be applied to conflict as well. A good manager is consistent in executing rules and regulations with his employees. He will not let close relationships with employees cloud his judgment and rationale for making a decision. When conflict arises, the employees will know that each person will receive the same treatment regardless of who they are.

According to Robbins, Consistency can relate to an individual's reliability, predictability, and good judgment in handling situations. Inconsistencies between words and actions decrease trust. Nothing is noticed more quickly than a discrepancy between what executives preach and what they expect their associates to practice. People want to be able to predict what you are going to do. Robbins, Stephen P. Essentials of Organizational Behavior. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002.

In order for a manager to improve their effectiveness in a conflict situation they can also use The Five A's of Improving Your Personal Effectiveness Model from Kerns. The A's are assess, analyze, action plan, act, and adjust - then repeat. Kerns, Dr. Charles. The Five A's of Improving Your Personal Effectiveness. Graziadio Business Report. September 2002.

A good manager will always assess the situation in order to gather all of the details. Once he has all of the information, he will analyze it and develop an action plan. After implementation of the plan, he will be able to be flexible with that plan if something needs to be adjusted. Effective managers use the Five A's constantly without even realizing it. This helps a manager approach conflict with confidence knowing there is a steady process he can rely upon.

2.3. Flexibility and Creativity

Managers exist in a state of steady uncertainly and their success rests upon constant exploration of uncharted waters.

Barry Munitz,

President of Federated Development Company

Houston, Texas

Today changes in the business environment become more rapid and more complex and of course each manager must solve more problems in a limited period of time. As Dr. Abraham Zaleznik of Harvard University mentioned: "No matter how much you plan, when you get to the work place there are unanticipated problems: And the added constant challenge is that most of these problems cannot be solved effectively in old, familiar, or straightforward manners. Hence the quality most necessary for business and career success these days, and increasingly so in the future, is flexibility. Are you flexible enough to succeed? ,  By: Raudsepp, Eugene, Manage, Mar90, Vol. 41, Issue 4 But our group consider also creativity to be important today. These two aspects help manager not to be lost and not to lose in the modern business world and of course to be effective.

According to the dictionary flexibility is the ability to change or to be changed easily to suit a different situation Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English,pearson Education Limited,1978,2001. What factors made this aspect so important? Thirst of all the growing volumes of information a manager should deal with. Second, environment and technologies which changed quicker and quicker every year and the third point will be internationalization. According to these three situations we can determine the following characteristics of the flexible manager:

1. A flexible manager is able to stay loose and to choose and explore a wide variety of approaches to problems, without losing sight of the overall goal or purpose Are you flexible enough to succeed? ,  By: Raudsepp, Eugene, Manage, Mar90, Vol. 41, Issue 4

2. Shows a resourcefulness in their ability to adapt himself quickly and easily to developing situation and changing environment

3. He "does not see the environment as something to which they should passively respond, but as something they should actively shape." George T. Geis, research coordinator at UCLA's Center of Human Resource Management at Are you flexible enough to succeed? ,  By: Raudsepp, Eugene, Manage, Mar90, Vol. 41, Issue 4

Some authors also associated flexibility with personal openness of the manager The Unblocked Manager, By: Mike Woodcock,Dave Francis,England,GB,1983. They pointed out that if managers are open then they can be influenced by what is happening around them and as a result they react more flexible to all the changes around them. The one thing is obvious that flexibility is a key feature of personal growth and an indispensable condition for being an effective manager.

Let's now go back to the second aspect - creativity, and let's see what it means: Creativity - producing or using new and effective ideas, results, etc Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English,pearson Education Limited,1978,2001. When we think about creativity, we imagine people who are gifted, talented, and different from others, whose ideas, decisions, and actions are situated out of the every day's life borders. In culture, creativity is associated with such a people like Bach, Van Gogh, and Einstein; in business with Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple Computers), Jack Welch (General Electric), and Anita Rodick (The Body Shop). Becoming a Master Manager, By:Robert E.Qiunn,Sue R.Faerman,Michel P. Thomson, Michael R. McGrath; USA,2003 Today creativity is a way of thinking, the way to integrate you visions and ideas into relationships and business. This process can be presented as following:

Figure 3: Critical thinking

Brainstorming processes

Free association, etc.

Source: Becoming a Master Manager, By:Robert E.Qiunn,Sue R.Faerman,Michel P. Thomson, Michael R. McGrath; USA,2003

The use of creativity in the decision making process or in problem solving allows manager to increase the effectiveness and encourage creative thinking among employees. An effective manager will use creativity as a tool of motivation. When employees are encouraged to use creativity in their problem solving and in everyday work, they are more likely to feel unique, valued and important for their organization Becoming a Master Manager, By:Robert E.Qiunn,Sue R.Faerman,Michel P. Thomson, Michael R. McGrath; USA,2003. In this way a manager can not only develop effectiveness but also create a group of like-minded employees.

For an effective manager of the future creativity or creative thinking should become the natural way to think. But to reach this ideal situation each manager should avoid the following barriers:

1. A negative value of fantasy and reflection as a waste of time, a sign of laziness, or even a bit crazy Becoming a Master Manager, By:Robert E.Qiunn,Sue R.Faerman,Michel P. Thomson, Michael R. McGrath; USA,2003

2. the ideas that only children may play and fantasise but adults must be serious

3. the idea that problem solving is a very serious an responsible process and you must forget about creativity and humour

4. a negative image of feeling and intuition, which are regarded as illogical an impractical

Although it is very difficult sometimes to change the society's cultural barriers and to change the image of creativity, each manager should try to overcome pragmatic influences and think individually.

2.4. Developing of managerial knowledge and manager's teaching role

Every manager must be sure that he or she will develop the competence and knowledge of those they supervise. Every employee has a potential for personal and professional development, and a good manager should discover and develop this potential. We will start with the idea that each person wants to know more. When a young employee comes to the company he has a lot of theoretical knowledge, personal ideas and visions. He has read a lot of books and articles, but he is still asking himself a lot of different questions. In that moment he needs someone to teach him how to become successful.

When you are a small child your parents teach you how to walk, and when you make your first steps in your career you also need a parent to teach, to give support, to empower and whatever else necessary. The effective manager is always ready to become such a parent. He is always open to his employees and colleagues, he shares his knowledge, and he inspires others with his own experience and example. During the process of teaching he always remains patient and supports everyone in every step of the way. And of course leaders take the time to thank employees for a job well done.

But teaching doesn't mean only sharing manager's knowledge with someone; it also means that the manager takes a role of mentor. The term "mentor" has been used quite often in recent years. Jacqueline D. Heads, academic advisor for the Rutgers University College of Pharmacy in New Jersey defines this term as the following A true mentor motivates you and impels you to move to the next level, mobilizes you by advising you on how to get there, and finally, like a guide, a mentor informally monitors your progress to make sure you are moving in the right direction," Mentors Are Guides to Success ,  By: Wilson, Cheryl F., Black Collegian, Apr2002, Vol. 32, Issue 3

But why should we pay so much attention to teaching role of manager or his mentoring role? The answer is obvious: teaching is a core competency the effective manger should have. The idea of effectiveness changed the vision of teaching and today more authors speak not only about teaching or mentoring but about a developmental manager. Do your managers have the right stuff? ,  By: Simonsen, Piggy, Workforce, Aug99, Vol. 78, Issue 8 That means that instead of taskmasters and evaluators, managers are most effective as coaches, motivators, symphony conductors and employee developers Do your managers have the right stuff? ,  By: Simonsen, Piggy, Workforce, Aug99, Vol. 78, Issue 8 We will pay more attention to this idea.

Developing happened not at home but mostly at the work place during the work itself or during the special classes. That is why it will be useful for each manager to create and to follow a development plan to avoid pointless talks and wasting of time. The idea of A+ employees takes A+ managers Do your managers have the right stuff?,  By: Simonsen, Piggy, Workforce, Aug99, Vol. 78, Issue 8 seems to our group to be a very interesting and future oriented idea of cooperation between manager and employees. According to this idea you should follow these rules while developing people:

Appreciate uniqueness of the people

Assess capability of their team members

Anticipate the future (leads others in the future)

Align aspirations (create win/win partnerships built on trust and loyalty)

Accelerate learning

But in practice the theory is always confronted with reality. One of the main problems of teaching or developing people is that a lot of managers are afraid of teaching other people. The main reason for such an attitude is idea, that if you as a manager will teach someone everything you know and after that he may become better and smarter then you, and take your place. Of course it can happen. But then manager should turn back to his main values and decide what is most important to him: his own career or his company's success.

At the same time, if you are going to share your knowledge with someone, to teach, to develop and to become a mentor you must broaden your own knowledge. The individual becomes a manager because he was chosen to get results and to use his knowledge, not because he won a popularity contest. Employees are not going to listen to a person who has no knowledge in what he is talking about or gives out false information. People need to believe that a manager has the proper skills and abilities to carry out what he claims to be experienced in. Only then a manager will earn a respect and employees will become his like-minded team. How will you be able to do this?

Some authors Ellen D. Rothberg, Greg Blencoe say that as a manager and especially as an executive manager you are responsible for all fields of business in your company: for marketing and sales, for finance, for information technology etc. You should understand how things works (the IKEA-case and Kamprad's attention to all details can illustrate this statement) and also how employees work whose knowledge in one particular field are deeper then yours. These are two main corner stones of success. How to reach them? The best solution can be continuous replacing inside organization. As a result manager receives variety of experiences and knowledge in different functions, business units, companies, and even countries. The positive effect of such a moving results in understanding, how the whole business operates; of the impact of managerial decisions on the rest of the organization. Managers can also transfer best practices to new areas while moving; he learns how to lead in a variety of situations and he develops strong networks inside and outside the organization Adaptive Skills ,  By: Yelverton, Jerry, Vital Speeches of the Day, 0042742X, 09/15/97, Vol. 63, Issue 23.

Some other authors Pankoff Sr., J. A, especially from the business world, used to think that an effective manager must not be satisfied with his education degree and training, but must always be ready to catch advanced education opportunities. The advanced degree is MBA-program; if this level was reached then never avoid additional seminars, courses and workshops. In contrast to the thirst group of authors who are speaking about continuous replacement, these theories accept the idea of receiving deep knowledge in one particular area.

These two approaches and also all theories about teaching show us how important is for every manager to develop himself and his employees. Continuous self-development, learning and teaching are the best ways to success and effectiveness.

2.5. Motivation of employees

Like the previous characteristics, the ability to motivate your employees to work is also an indispensable one if you want to be effective as a manager. The psychology of motivation is tremendously complex, and what has been unravelled so far with any degree of assurance is very small. What I will do here is (1) give a definition of what motivation is, (2) very briefly going across the major theories, classical and contemporary ones, and (3) address some possibilities how an affective manager can implement the ideas the theories offered in reality, which is of most importance. But first some theory.

Stephen P. Robbins gives us the following definition of motivation in his book Organizational Behavior (2001, p. 155) I will use this book as a lead to construct the rest of this section: Robbins, Stephen P. (2001). Organizational Behavior. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, pp. 154-216: [] the processes that account for an individual's intensity, direction, and persistence of effort toward attaining a goal. Thus intensity (1) is concerned with how hard a person tries, with direction (2) we mean toward attaining the organizational goalsand persistence refers to how long a person can maintain his or her effort.

In the past, especially in the 50's, a lot has been written about how managers can motivate their employees. We can classify these theories in 5 categories. This classification is subjective and doesn't claim at all to be exhaustive. These are:

1. Need theories:

- Hierarchy of Needs Theory (A. Maslow) / ERG Theory (C. Alderfer)

- Two Factor Theory (F. Herzberg)

- Theory X and Theory Y (D. McGregor)

These theories all depart from the thought that to motivate your employees, you have to satisfy certain needs. Maslow's hierarchical model, a classical one, says that you first have to satisfy physiological needs (i.e. hunger, thirst, ), then you have to offer them safety (from physical and emotional harm), consequently you must satisfy them socially (affection, acceptance, ), after that you can motivate them by satisfying their esteem (internal as well as external), and only then, when all the previous needs are satisfied, you can motivate them by letting your employees actualize themselves through their work (i.e. self-fulfilment). So if you want to motivate someone, according to Maslow, you need to understand what level of hierarchy that person is currently on and focus on satisfying those needs at or above that level.

Maslow's theory has received wide recognition, but unfortunately research does not validate the theory. A theory that contests Maslow's theory is Alderfer's ERG Theory, where E stands for existence (cfr. the physiological and safety needs), R for relatedness (cfr. the social needs and the external component of the esteem need) and G for growth needs (cfr. the internal esteem component and the self-actualization need). This theory differs from Maslow's in that (1) more than one need may be operative at the same time and (2), if the gratification of a higher level need is stifled, the desire to satisfy a lower-level need increases. In opposite to Maslow's theory, several studies do have supported this theory. It takes into account that in different cultures the categories can be ranked in another way, for example Japan, where the social needs are placed under the physiological ones.

Another classical need theory is the Theory X and Theory Y of Douglas McGregor. These two theories represent two distinct views of human beings: Theory X makes the assumption that employees dislike work, are lazy, dislike responsibility, and must be coerced to perform, where Theory Y stipulates that employees like work, are creative, seek responsibility and can exercise self-direction. Research suggests that these theories may be applicable but only in particular situations.

Maybe the most important contribution to the motivation question comes from the psychologist Frederick Herzberg with his Two-Factor Theory. The insight Herzberg brought to the matter meant a u-turn in previously thinking. He stated as first that the opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction, as was traditionally believed, but that both are distinct and separate. Intrinsic factors such as the work itself, responsibility, and achievement seem to be related with satisfaction (motivators), while extrinsic factors such as supervision, pay, company policies and working conditions are associated with dissatisfaction (hygiene factors). This theory has had a major impact on management in the last 30 years and the fact that managers nowadays allow workers greater responsibility in planning and controlling their work can probably be attributed largely to Herzberg's findings and recommendations

2. Goal-Setting Theory (E. Locke):

The primary idea of this theory is that specific and difficult goals, with goal/ feedback, lead to a higher performance. This means that, for example, to motivate someone, you don't say Just do your best, but you say specific what has to be obtained, for example You should strive for 85 percent or higher on all your work in English. Research supports this theory in that this do can lead to a higher performance, although it may not lead to job satisfaction (cfr. supra).

3. Reinforcement Theory:

This theory states that reinforcement conditions behaviour. Behaviour is thereby environmentally caused. What controls behaviour are reinforcers - any consequence that , when immediately following a response, increases the probability that the behaviour will be repeated. The theory ignores the inner state of the individual and concentrates solely on what happens to a person when he or she takes some action. Because it does not concern with what initiates behaviour, it is not, strictly speaking, a theory of motivation. But it does provide a powerful means of analysing of what controls behaviour, and it is for this reason that it is typically considered in discussions on motivation.

4. Equity Theory (J. S. Adams):

This theory poses that individuals compare their job inputs (i.e. effort, experience ) and outcomes (i.e. salary, recognition ) with those of others and then respond so as to eliminate any inequities. For example a person who does the same job as another employee but gets paid less will be motivated to perform better in order to eliminate the existing inequities.

5. Expectancy Theory (V. Vroom):

This is currently one of the most accepted explanations of motivation. Most of the research evidence is supportive of this theory. Concrete, this theory says that an employee will be motivated to exert a high level of effort when he or she believes that effort will lead to a good performance appraisal; that a good performance appraisal will lead to organizational rewards such as a bonus, a salary increase, or a promotion; and that the rewards will satisfy the employee's goals.

The major theories briefly presented, we can now look at how in reality a manager can implement these. Robbins mentions 6 applications. These are:

1. Management by objectives (MBO) (cfr. Goal-Setting Theory):

This means in realty, as a manager, you make sure that the organization's overall objectives are translated into specific objectives for each succeeding level (divisional, departmental, and individual) in the organization. You develop a program that encompasses specific goals, participatively set with the employees, for an explicit time period, with feedback on goal progress. MBO programs are used in many business, health care, educational, government and non-profit organizations.

2. Employee Recognition Programs (cfr. Reinforcement Theory)

Consistent with reinforcement theory, rewarding a behaviour with recognition immediately following that behaviour is likely to encourage its repetition. For example: personally congratulating an employee, or sending a letter or an e-mail, having a celebration because of good achievement, or publicly recognizing, such as organizing a prize Best Employee of the Month (he/she then gets a plaque on the wall). These programs are widely used because it costs no money and according to research bears effective.

3. Employee Involvement Programs (cfr. Theory X and Theory Y, Two-Factor Theory, Hierarchy of Needs Theory & ERG Theory):

The idea here is that by involving workers in those decisions that affect them and by increasing their autonomy and control over their work lives, employees will become more motivated, more committed to the organization, more productive, and more satisfied with their jobs. Examples:

- participative management: subordinates share a significant degree of decision-making power with their immediate superiors.

- representative participation: rather than participate directly in decisions, workers are represented by a small group of employees who actually participate

- quality circles: a work group of 8 to 10 employees and supervisors meet regularly to discuss their quality problems, investigate causes, recommend solutions, and take corrective actions.

- employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs): these are company-established benefit plans in which employees acquire stock as part of their benefits.

4. Variable Pay Programs (cfr. Expectancy Theory):

Here a portion of an employee's pay is based on some individual and/or organizational measure of performance. Examples:

- Piece-rate pay plans: you are paid a fixed sum for each unit of production completed.

- Bonuses: extra payment because of certain achievement.

- Profit-sharing plans: compensations based on some established formula designed around a company's profitability (direct cash outlays or stock options).

- gainsharing: an incentive plan in which improvements in group productivity determine the total amount of money that is allocated.

5. Skill Based Pay Plans (cfr. ERG Theory, Reinforcement Theory, Equity Theory):

These plans set pay levels on the basis of how many skills employees have or how many jobs they can do. For example, if you are a machine operator in a certain company, you earn 14$/hour, but because of the skill based pay plan, you can earn up to a 10 percent premium if you broaden your skills to for example material accounting. Several studies have confirmed that skill based pay generally leads to higher performance and satisfaction. These plans are expanding and already widely used with success.

6. Flexible Benefits (cfr. Expectancy Theory):

These allow employees to pick and choose from among a menu of benefit options that exceeds the traditional benefit programs. The options might include hearing, dental and eye coverage; life insurance; extended vacation time; . This way the different needs of the employees can be met. The major theories and their applications were provided; we want to conclude here with some general guidelines:

Recognize Individual Differences

Use Goals and Feedback

Allow Employees to Participate in Decisions that Affect Them

Link Rewards to Performance

Check the System for Equity

The conclusion then is that f you have the skill as a manager to tailor the perfect motivation method for each of your employees, you will be more effective.

2.6. Communication skills

With Rees (1991, p. 159), we can say that this characteristic is probably the most important of all the characteristics an effective manager needs to possess. Everything a manager does involves communication, his verbal and nonverbal behaviour. Communication between managers and employees is important in the sense that it provides the information necessary to get work done effectively and efficient in organizations. Effective communication is the critical factor that moves a team toward a resolution or consensus (How to be an effective manager, 2000, p. 14).

Robbins & Coulter provide us with the following communication model (see attachment 1). As we can notice by looking at this model, there are seven factors involved in communication: (1) the communication source, (2) encoding, (3) the message, (4) the channel, (5) decoding, (6) the receiver and (7) feedback. The definition of communication is then the transfer and understanding of meaning (Robbins & Coulter, 2002, p. 282). This means that (1) the message has to reach the receiver ( for example a speaker who isn't heard does not communicate) and (2), more important, the message has also to be understood in the way it was meant by the sender. Interesting to note is that communication can be affected by noise, by which we mean any disturbance that interferes with the transmission, receipt or feedback of a message, for example a phone ringing in the background.

Robbins and Coulter (2002, pp. 288-291) distinguish 7 different barriers to effective communication. These are (Robbins & Coulter, 2002, pp. 288-291):

Filtering: this is the deliberate manipulation of information to make it appear more favorable to the receiver. For example when a manager tells his boss what his boss wants to hear.

Selective perception: when people selectively interpret what they see or hear on the basis of their interests, background, experience and attitudes. For example an employment interviewer who expects a female job applicant to put her family ahead of her career is likely to see that in female applicants, regardless of the fact that it is true or not.

Emotions: how a receiver feels when a message is received influences how he or she interprets it.

Information overload: when the information we have to work with exceeds our processing capacity. For example tons of e-mails. You are bound to select and this way information gets lost.

Defensiveness: when individuals interpret another's message as threatening, they often respond in ways that hinder effective communication.

Language: words mean different things to different people. Age, education and cultural background are three of the more obvious variables that influence the language a person uses and the definitions he or she gives to words. The use of jargon, a specialized terminology or technical language that members of a group use to communicate among themselves, can be a barrier to effective communication.

National culture: cultural differences and consequently different values (cfr. the problems of intercultural communication). A remarkable effort to explain these problems was provided by Hofstede, who placed cultures on a continuum of high-context vs. low-context cultures. In the former, the context is of extreme importance; what not is said may be more significant than what is said (for example Japan). In the latter, words are more important to transfer meaning than the context in which communication takes place (for example North America). It is then your task as a manager to take these in consideration.

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