- To what extent is effective management something you are born with, as opposed to a set of skills that can be taught?
- Which business leaders do you admire for their managerial skills? What are these skills?
- Do managers have a good reputation in your country? Or are they made fun of in jokes, cartoons and television series? If so, why do you think this is?
- Which of the five famous managers below do you find the most interesting and impressive, and why?
- Can you think of a manager that you really admire and respect? He or She doesn’t have to be famous, but I would like you to tell me why you think this person is an exceptional manager.
- What makes a good manager, in your opinion? What do you think are the three most important characteristics of a good manager?
Reading | What Is Management?
Management is important. The success or failure of companies, public sector institutions and services, not-for-profit organizations, sports teams, and so on, often depends on the quality of their manager. But what do managers do? One well-known classification of the tasks of a manager comes from Peter Drucker. Drucker was an American business professor and consultant who is often called things like ‘The Father of Modern Management’.
Drucker suggested that the work of a manager can be divided into five tasks: planning (setting objectives), organizing, integrating (motivating and communicating), measuring performance, and developing people.
- First of all, senior managers and directors set objectives, and decide how their organization can achieve or accomplish them. This involves developing strategies, plans and precise tactics, and allocating resources of people and money.
- Secondly, manager organize. They analyze and classify the activities of the organization and the relations among them. They divide the work into manageable activities and then into individual tasks. They select people to perform these tasks.
- Thirdly, managers practise the social skills of motivation and communication. They also have to communicate objectives to the people responsible for attaining them. They have to make the people who are responsible for performing individual tasks form teams. They make decisions about pay and promotion. As well as organizing and supervising the work of their subordinates, they have to work with people in other areas and functions.
- Fourthly, managers have to measure the performance of their staff, to see whether the objectives or targets set for the organization as a whole and for each individual member of it are being achieved.
- Lastly, managers develop people — both their subordinates and themselves.
A company’s top managers also have to consider the future, and modify or change the organization’s objectives when necessary, and introduce the innovations that will allow the business to continue. Top managers also have to manage a business’s relations with customers, suppliers, distributors, bankers, investors, neighboring communities, public authorities, and so on, as well as deal with any crisis that arises.
Although the tasks of a manager can be analyzed and classified in this fashion, management is not entirely scientific. There are management skills that have to be learnt, but management is also a human skill. Some people will be unable to put management techniques into practice. Other will have lots of technique, but few good ideas. Excellent managers are quite rare.
Based on the reading, what do you think about the idea that good managers are rare because you cannot learn everything you need to become a great manager, some of this greatness comes from you as a person. What do you think about that. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
Vocabulary Activity 1
Vocabulary Activity 2
Assignment #1: Writing
Based on the reading from the episode, write a brief summary of each of the five tasks listed by Drucker. Try to use your own language as much as possible.
Assignment #2: Case Study
Three companies are looking for a senior manager — a Chief Operating Officer who will be responsible for managing the company’s day-to-day operations, and making sure that all operations are efficient and effective.
- Company A is a cigarette manufacturer that has to modernize its production systems in order to become profitable, in an industry that has an increasingly bad reputation.
- Company B is a software developer that employs a lot of young, creative, talented and rather undisciplined people.
- Company C is a private television channel whose objective is to broadcast programs that get as big an audience as possible, in order to maximize advertising revenue.
Which of the following candidates might be the most suitable for the positions above? Please read the extracts about each candidate and decide based on the information you get about each candidate.
- Candidate 1: My skills involve helping businesses achieve their objectives. Throughout my career I have ensured that my subordinates successfully executed the strategies developed by senior management, delivered results and maximized revenue.
- Candidate 2: I see my main skills as being able to communicate with and motivate people, to help them develop and accomplish their objectives, while also working effectively in teams.
- Candidate 3: At this stage in my career, I see myself in a challenging new position that involves setting objectives and deciding how the organization can achieve them. I would then concentrate on measuring the performance of the staff.
- Candidate 4: My career demonstrates an ability to analyze problems, find solutions and implement them. I also have strong communication skills and experience in explaining difficult decisions to employees, investors, journalists, and so on.
What Do I Want You To Do?
Imagine you work for a recruitment agency or a headhunting firm. Write an email 50-100 words to your boss recommending your choice of candidates for the positions above and outlining the reasons.
You can send me your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, but please make sure you include the episode title and the word ‘assignment’ in the topic of the email.