Principle of Management Course: My Experiences

Principle of Management Course: My Experiences
I believe that the Principles of Management course provided me with
invaluable information which will help in furthering both my professional as
well as personal life. I believe that learning is a process by which an
individual undergoes certain changes. Also, during the learning process, many of
the beliefs which a person holds are challenged. I underwent various changes
during this course. This paper will explain those changes. Furthermore, I will
detail the concepts, ideas and situations which had the greatest impact on me.

Before taking this course, my definition of the concept of management
would have been strictly based on power relationships within an organization,
how to use power to achieve your goals and how to manipulate people. Although
this definition might seem totalitarian, my background in Political Science
supported my initial misconceptions of management. I am a political science
major and the questions most often asked in political science courses deal with
power within a structure and how this power is used, abused and expressed by
those in control. Therefore, I came into the Principles of Management course
with the notion that I was going to be learning about power. This notion was
challenged as I learned that there are three different perspectives that are
used to analyze an organization.

There are three different perspectives used to view organizational
behavior and processes: Strategic-Design, Political and Cultural. Initially, I
was looking at the organization and the process of management from the political
perspective. This perspective deals with the use of power and influence
throughout the organization. However, I also had to learn about the strategic-
design perspective, which dealt with the differentiation, efficiency, strategy,
coordination and integration of various tasks within the organization. I also
had to learn about the cultural perspective which focused on the way in which
people assigned meanings to their respective work experiences. I was beginning
to understand that management and the organization are not just an arena for
power relations. Instead, a variety of factors compose management. Management
deals with the tasks, structure, culture and decision-making processes within an
organization. In order to be an effective manager one has to study and analyze
t he organization using all the perspectives.

This was the first phase of my learning: I was beginning to understand
that the perspective from which I had been viewing the organization was
insufficient because I was missing other important aspects of the organization.

Therefore, I needed to use a multi-perspective lens to analyze the organization.

I also learned about the roles that are present within an organization.

These roles are: director, producer, facilitator, mentor, coordinator, innovator
and broker. Each of these roles has a distinct function within the context of
the organization. These roles can complement and supplement each other.

After doing the in-class exercise, I discovered that I fell in Quinns
Rational Goal quadrant and was oriented towards director and producer roles. A
director is expected to clarify expectations through processes, such as planning
and goal setting. Directors define roles and tasks, generate rules and
policies and give instructions.After studying many of my everyday activities,
I noticed that I was inclined to give orders and that I was highly competitive
and goal oriented. I was also oriented towards the producer role. A producer
is supposed to accept responsibly, complete assignments and maintain high
personal productivity.

By identifying the roles towards which I was inclined, it made it easier
to track and remedy my negative tendencies. For instance, the my most negative
tendency emanating from the director/producer role is that fact that I can be
insensitive to an individuals needs in the face of accomplishing my goals.

After a process of self-examination I identified my problems and negative
tendencies. At times, I possess an almost fanatical desire to achieve my goals.

This fanatical desire is so strong that it can override friendships, destroy
relationships and alienate people. I also began to notice that I had the
tendency to act quite insensitive, inconsiderate and not be approachable. Once I
had identified this problem, I realized that I needed to diversify myself by
adding elements from the other roles, such as mentor and facilitator. I
believed that if I complemented my director/producer roles with elements from
the mentor or facilitator roles, then this would enable me to foster a
collective effort, be sensitive towards the needs of individuals and still be
able to achieve my goals.

This was the second phase of my learning: I had identified a personal
deficiency and needed to work towards complementing my director/producer roles
with roles from the Human Relations quadrant.

One of the key concepts of management and the key themes of the course
was teamwork. We were organized into teams and the team was the unit by which
the Professor measured our performance. By working in a team-environment, I was
able to learn the value of multiple perspectives and the need to use different
roles depending on the situation. In analyzing Synergy, Inc., I learned that we
had fused the three perspectives to create a unique identity and structure. For
instance, in the strategic design perspective, tasks were organized around a
need-basis and assignments were shared. Politically, we had no formal authority
or decision making body. Instead, all the members of Synergy, Inc. were
carefully listened to and their opinions evaluated and discussed. Culturally,
Synergy, Inc. formulated its own distinct culture, which consisted of certain
rituals and routines before team meetings.

When problems began to occur and breakdown the team process, it was
necessary to study the different perspectives in order to determine the origin
and possible solution to the problem. In solving team problems, we needed to
identify the symptoms and treat the causes of these symptoms (not the symptoms
themselves). Also, the problems which arose forced us to evaluate our present
processes and attempt to create new processes. We had to learn to adapt to the
new environment.

One problem which occurred and caused us to re-invent ourselves was
the absenteeism of team member Raquel. Due to various health reasons, Raquel
was unable to attend team meetings. We had just lost a valuable team member,
whom we were counting on for essential work on performance evaluations such as
the book report, interactive cases and the news report. What did we do to
prevent the loss of one team member from destroying our entire team process? We
re-assigned tasks and began to coordinate other ways of finishing the
assignments. For instance, team members Will and Jeb were assigned Raquels
interactive cases and team member Josh was assigned Raquels presentation for
the news report. By creatively manipulating the Strategic Design perspective,
we were able to resolve a potential problem.

Another important aspect of the team was that each person had different
roles. For instance, I believe that Will was the team director and facilitator.

Generally, Jeb and Elizabeth and myself participated in the role of producer.

Furthermore, I attempted to take on a facilitator role in order to improve my
Human Relations quadrant skills. I attempted to accomplish this by building
team cohesion and morale, also by trying to obtain input from all participants
in team meetings. I found myself uttering the phrases, What do you think about
that . . and What are you opinions concerning the subject . . . more than I
had ever before. I also attempted to diffuse potentially volatile situations by
using humor and other pressure-relieving tactics to show that all issues have a
lighter side.

Perhaps the class activity which I found most rewarding were the
interactive cases. These cases dealt with everyday issues which confront
managers and challenge you to use all of your skills and experiences in bringing
about a successful resolution to the situation. The cases provided me with an
opportunity to put to practice many of the concepts which I had learned in class.

I found the motivation and ethics cases to be the most interesting. The
motivation case was interesting because it proved that everyone is motivated by
a different reason. There can be no “textbook” approach on how to motivate
people. Instead, a manager has to sit down and communicate with the person and
find out what is behind the motivational problem. In this particular case, all
of the people that had low sales figures had a unique reason and motive behind
their problems. The ethics case was interesting because there was no clear
answer on what should be done to remedy the situation. This case was difficult
because
one had to balance the interests of the company with the ethical issues and
consequences. It is very difficult to come to a resolution when the needs of
the company conflict with what is ethical.

I believe that the discussion of the future was an integral part of the
Principles of Management class. In the beginning we started discussing the past
models of organizational structure. We talked about Max Weber’s Bureaucratic
model. This model was once an efficient and orderly way of structuring the
organization since the organization was in a stable environment. However, today
it is obsolete. The current and future models will stress flexibility, freedom
from rigidity, networkability and flatness. Organizations designed in this
manner will be able to exploit the quickly changing environment.

The future environments will be characterized by chaos, complexity and
contradiction. Increasingly, managers will have to deal with tumultuous work
environments instead of the stable environments of the past. A metaphor used to
compare the past management environment and the future business environment is:
“The old environment was like sailing. The new environment is like a kayak
race.” The calm, secure conditions of sailing best reflect the old business and
management environments. However, the new environment is best represented by
the chaos and instability of a kayak race. “At any time your canoe can capsize
and leave you to drown,” said CEO Michael Cooper of METCECH Incorporated. This
is further emphasized by the increased competition present in the marketplace.

The high levels of competition are making it so that only the companies which
are most in tune with their customer’s needs and are most efficient survive.

In conclusion, after identifying and integrating the first and second
phases of learning, I was able to work towards transforming myself. The
transformation process does not end when I hand this paper in or with the end of
the course. Rather, the transformation process is a constant struggle between
myself and what I have learned. If I choose to apply the lessons which I have
learned, then I will win that struggle. However, if I ignore the lessons then I
lose the struggle.