High performance requires the efficient and effective use of organizational resources through the four management functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. To perform the four functions, managers need three skills – conceptual, human, and technical. Conceptual skills are more important at the top of the hierarchy; human skills are important at all levels, and technical skills are most important for first line managers.
Two characteristics of managerial work also were explained. (1) Managerial activities involve variety, fragmentation and brevity and (2) Managers perform a great deal of work at an unrelenting pace. Managers are expected to perform activities associated with 10 roles: the informational roles of monitor, disseminator and spokesperson; the interpersonal roles of figurehead, leader and liaison and the decisional roles of entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator and negotiators.
These management characteristics apply to small businesses, entrepreneurial start ups, and nonprofit organizations just as they do in large corporations. In addition, they are being applied in a new workplace and a rapidly changing world. In the new work place work is free flowing and flexible to encourage speed and adaptation, and empowered employees are expected to seize opportunities and solve problems. The workplace is organized around networks rather than vertical hierarchies and work is often virtual. These changing characteristics have resulted from forces such as advances in technology and e-business. Globalization increased diversity, and a growing emphasis on change and speed over stability and efficiency. Managers need new skills and competencies in this new environment. Leadership is dispersed and empowering. Customer relationships are critical and most work is done by teams that work directly with customers. In the new workplace managers focus on building relationships which includes customers, partners and suppliers. In addition, they strive to build learning capability throughout the organization. An emerging need is for leadership during crises and unexpected events. Managers in crisis situations should stay calm, be visible, put people before business, tell the truth and know when to get back to business. Human skills become critical during times of turbulence and crisis.
An excellent example of a leader during turbulent times is Anne Mulcahy CEO of Xerox. Although Xerox’s woes are far from over, Mulcahy has gotten the company off the critical list. One characteristic that has gained her the admiration and respect of employees’ customer and share holders alike is her willingness to tell the truth. Part of her DNA is to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly say one colleagues. Mulcahy is also fiercely concerned about people. Even during the darkest days she refused to consider bankruptcy preferring instead to focus everyone on rebuilding for the future. Her willingness to work with subordinates on the front lines has expanded her credibility enabled her to energize people who were previously demoralized and hopeless. Despite the company’s financial distress, she rejected a plan to abolish raises, and she implemented symbolic gestures of appreciation like giving employees their birthdays off. She hid her own fears and insecurities to motivate people with a vision of what Xerox could be if everyone pulled together. Mulcahy definitely believes in being visible. She personally negotiated a settlement with these, SEC believing it sent a signal that the top leader was concerned about ethics and accountability. She met face to face with customers to smooth ruffled feathers with creditors to renegotiate credit agreements and assure them that the company would pay back its enormous debts. When she had to make the tough decision to close the struggling personal computer division and lay off employees, she personally walked the halls to tell people she was sorry and let them vent their anger she was leading by example, says one creditor. Everybody at Xerox knew she was working hard and that she was working hard to them. Employees rallied around her, and there were startling improvements in performance. Costs were reduced significantly and all the company’s divisions returned to profitability. It remains to be seen whether Mulcahy can make Xerox once again great. She is masterfully leading it through the greatest crisis in its 100 years history.