Management 101

Management is a collection of theories and approaches to getting people to accomplish a goal or mission. This is a subjective practice and nobody has THE right answer to what makes good management. There are several components to it worthy of consideration and a few notes from my personal experience that may give you a better platform upon which to view the subject.

Before I ever took the time to study the subject, I had the opportunity to supervise other individuals and try to get particular tasks accomplished. I learned, early on that being the boss does not mean bossing people around, because people are reluctant to do what you want them to, even if they know it is necessary. So my early lessons of management had as much to do with psychology as it did to getting the job done.

In the Army, everyone has a station or rank in the hierarchy, and as you ascend in rank, you are given more responsibility and authority. One day when I was tasked to rearrange the furniture in the office, I instructed a subordinate to move a filing cabinet from one location to another and he refused. Things got a bit heated and the instruction became an “order” and he still did nothing, so I moved the cabinet myself. This was a lesson in realizing I knew nothing about management, or leadership, for that matter.

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I spent several years in college and as part of my degree in Business Administration, took several classes in management. I found out about theory X (authoritarian),  theory Y (passive) and more psychology that tried to explain how different workers were motivated to get the job done. That was all well and good, but it was book learning. In order to really understand the subject, I had to rise to the level of manager and work on the different approaches to getting the workers to work.

What I found was, it is too easy to detect when something was not right or not done, and most people react negatively to being reprimanded for missing something or forgetting to do something. The truth is, if you want the workers to do a good job, you must notice when they do something right, and compliment them for it. Honey will get you more loyalty than vinegar all the time. So I purposely focused on complimenting the people I worked with for everything I could find they did correctly, a job well done.603maslow

The two most influential men in the 20th century whose effect on management was profound were not Steve Jobs and Bill Gates but were Abraham Maslow and Edwards Deming. If you’ve never heard of them, you should look them up. I have provided links to reference at the end of this article.

Maslow, a psychologist,  created a hierarchy of needs model to describe how humans are motivated and that they will concentrate on one level until those needs are met before moving up to the next level. If you want to motivate people you will need to understand Maslow’s hierarchy.

W. Edwards Deming, an engineer by training, developed a system that became known as Total Quality Control (TQC), in which he focused on the customer’s needs and producing quality products. Deming was extremely popular in Japan after the second world war and was responsible for turning the phrase “made in Japan” into something sought after. He was directly responsible for the Japanese auto and electronics industries influence in the United States.

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I’ve had the great pleasure of working for some of the best managers on the planet. I’ve also had a couple of doozies, too. The best manager I ever had did not believe in discipline whatsoever. He was more than fair, always gave the employee the benefit of the doubt, overlooked bad behavior without condoning it, and showered his best employees with abundant praise. I would not have thought it would be a good way to manage before I had a professional relationship with him, but I really did appreciate what he was able to accomplish with his hands-off method.  I don’t think I have the patience to emulate his management style, but I admire it greatly.

I have enjoyed some of the best employees on the planet too. I’ve also had some I didn’t think too highly of as well. One of the people I was lucky to have was a young man who, as I would describe him, “ran through walls.” Another was someone I wanted to be like, he was a model citizen and set an outstanding example. With employees like these, management is easy.

Management is tough when you have to let someone go or correct behavior that is unacceptable and there can be many reasons for the behavior, but as a manager, you will have to deal with the good and the bad.

Simply Psychology Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs

Sky Mark W. Edwards Deming and Total Quality control

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