Traditionally, the term “management” refers to the activities (and often the group of people) involved in the four general functions: planning, organising, leading and controlling of resources. The four functions recur throughout the organisation and are highly integrated to achieve a certain organisational goal in an effective and efficient manner (Samson & Daft, 2009). Emerging trends in management include assertions that leading is different than managing, and that the nature of how the four functions are carried out must change to accommodate a “new paradigm” in management (McNamara, 2008). These aspects carry specific characteristics of good management which would positively impact an organisation’s outcomes and stakeholders.
One of the most common sets of activities in the management is planning. Very simply put, planning is setting the direction for a system and then guiding the system to follow the direction. There are many kinds of planning in organisations. Common to these many kinds of planning are various phases of planning which includes identifying goals, objectives, methods, resources needed to carry out methods, responsibilities, dates for completion of task and guidelines for carrying them out as effectively as possible (McNamara, 2008).
There are six core steps of good management in the planning process. Firstly, a planning process should start by stating the organisational objectives/goals in a clear and proper manner. Then, a manager should list several available alternatives for reaching the objectives. Managers should also develop premises upon which each alternative is based; these premises are assumptions and these assumptions will help managers work through the alternatives. Moreover, managers must choose the best alternative for reaching objectives followed by plan development to pursue the chosen alternative in three levels; strategic, tactical and operational plans. Finally, the plans are executed as the organisation can not benefit until the plans are put into action; both short and long range plans (Certo, 1989). Strategic management and organisational planning are part of Dell’s and its manager’s motive as they venture into Asia Pacific.
Dell’s strategy in Asia Pacific has been to shift its emphasis away from the machines and towards marketing, customisation and service. Its successful innovation lies in the changing way computers are sold. To buy a Dell, you just call a toll-free operator or an easier way is to visit Dell’s website; currently generating sales of more than US$ 4 million a day (El Kahal, 2001). The build-to-order method also limits big inventory backlogs as it is a key factor for PC companies, because things go obsolete so fast. Thanks to proper strategic planning, Dell has managed to shrink its inventory levels to just 7 days, down from 31 in 1996.
Planning worst-case scenarios can be a depressing work. However, the very process of contingency planning can get an entire organisation positively thinking about the importance of various business systems. In a fast-paced environment, contingency planning can lead to implementing better systems and processes overall. On top of that, the segment of decision making is an important characteristic of good management because it allows managers to make successful operational decisions and these decisions differ according to the amount of risk, uncertainty and ambiguity in the environment (Samson & Daft, 2009). These criteria are clearly applied by executives of Coca Cola’s and Pepsi’s when their serious problems in India began in 2003.
In that year, India’s Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) made allegations that the tests they conducted revealed dangerously high levels of pesticide residue in the soft drinks being sold all over India. Such residues can cause cancer and birth defects if the products were consumed over long periods of time. Initially, the two companies denied the allegations primarily through the media. After carefully analysing the situation, Coke managers launched a more aggressive marketing campaign which includes TV ads and testimonials from celebrities. Pepsi’s response was similar but they decided to go straight to the Indian media and try to build a relationship there (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008).
There has been an explosion of literature about leadership lately. Leading is a very human activity — we’re all human — so there are many people who consider themselves experts on leadership. Unfortunately, many people make strong assertions about leadership without ever really understanding a great deal about leadership. Among many imperative characters of good leadership, the ability to create a clear shared vision and show employee how to achieve it is the most important. A leader may not have the skills to organize but he can motivate people to perform their duties to best of their ability to achieve a common goal. Human motivation lies in the scope of rewards whether in an intrinsic or extrinsic form, where people are driven to satisfy their needs. Managers should also apply reinforcement tools to ensure work performance is improved via behaviour modification (Samson & Daft, 2009). For example, a supervisor may berate an employee for performing a task incorrectly. This reduces the chances of such behaviour to be repeated.
Another way to influence people is through effective communication. An effective communicator is a great tool for accomplishing an organisation’s goals. Both verbal and written communications are vital to influencing employees as communications allows sharing of information. Good managers realise that employees need information to do their jobs and good managers aren’t afraid to share that information. This includes using comprehensive 360-degree feedback from employees, peers, and managers that is integrated throughout the program. (Dubrin, Danglish & Miller, 2006).
Good managers often work in teams to enhance job satisfaction, efficiency and quality. Most teams go through systematic stages of development: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Teamwork and group decision making offer several advantages, including the possibility of synergy, catching major errors, continuous improvement and innovation. A valid example for the aspects of leading would be Jack Welch, past CEO of General Electric. He helped to increase the market share of GE from US$12 billion in 1981 to US$280 billion. His simple secret of success is to incorporate motivation and communication alongside with team building. He was well known for dashing off handwritten notes to people throughout the company to congratulate them for a job well done (Samson & Daft, 2009).
Organizations should be built and managers should be functioning so people can be naturally empowered. The skills in the functions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling are the key to be able to emphasise different skills at different times. Too often, this basic nature is not understood. Instead, people tend to focus only on the day-to-day events and when problems occur, they don’t see the “larger picture” in order to resolve these problems effectively.