Interview with the Manager
General Background and Responsibilities
In every organisation, a manager has an essential influence when it comes to the realisation of its strategies (Drucker & Maciariello 2008). Stories by various managers describe their success in meeting the goals of their organisations. Magazines, Internet, and lectures have been the avenues that describe issues that managers face in their plan implementation process. However, such avenues cannot describe all the personal issues that managers have. The different organisations have diverse cultures, managerial styles and backgrounds. It is difficult to get a shared point behind their success (Schermerhorn 2005). Therefore, it is important to have an interview with a manager who can offer first-hand details on the accomplishments or failures of plans. In addition, they can share on the manner that they tackle problems within their organisations. Connecting the response of the manager in an interview to managerial theories and concepts will enable further understanding of the actual managerial roles in organisations. Since managerial concepts have a wide range, the interview primarily focuses on planning and the impact of uncertain economic environment. For the purpose of this paper, the name of the manager will be omitted. However, all the details about the manager are real facts acquired through the interview.
The interviewed manager works at Hunter Plastics Limited, which is situated in Kent, United Kingdom. The company operates in the manufacturing industry, and it involves the development and supply of plastic plumbing products. The manager has been working with hunter Plastics Limited for eight years. A manager in a manufacturing company has various responsibilities since numerous employees work under him. The subordinates consist of product research team, sales team, administrative team, finance team, strategic planning department, and approximately, 200 factory workers. On a normal weekday, his most-important tasks are checking and supervising the progress of projects, dealing with issues emerging from the day to day activities, and assessing the performance of project managers, as well as, getting feedback from them. Throughout his manager career, he enjoys experiencing success, conducting market research, and visiting other successful companies to learn from the experience of their managers.
He always likes being a fair manager in punishing and rewarding employees based on their performance. However, at times, it is not possible due to the company’s ineffective rewards and punishment system. Even though the system is not conducive, he strives to meet the values of the company which includes integrity, quality, commitment and innovation. As a result, he believes that satisfaction of employees is directly translated in their performance. Among the issues that he controls are shift breaks, full protection gear to ensure that workers are safe, and ensuring that the conflicts between employees and supervisors are omitted. He also manages that the salary level is average regarding the industry. The manager prefers making important decisions in consultations with other members of staff, both above and below his position. He believes that subordinates understand their problems well, and can make vital contributions. Therefore, one can conclude that he is a democratic leader. Democratic leadership involves all employees’ participation. It offers guidance to staff members within the company’s decisions, and it also allows their input.
Being the overall manager, he reports directly to the CEO and the board of directors. The leadership style applied by the manager makes the organisation strong due to his personal power. He can guide the decisions made, so as to ensure that other workers do not misuse their authority.
The manager graduated from London Metropolitan University, where he studied BSc Mechanical Engineering. Later he got a Master’s in Business Administration from the same university. He has experience of working in various companies, including Whytehouse Promotions Limited, Aliaxis UK Building and Sanitary among others. Through the process of internalisation and socialisation, superiors and subordinates in organisations situated in the industrial societies value and practice democratic leadership (Drennan & McConnell 2012). Therefore, the manager has to ensure that employees’ views are taken into account, as it is a way of overcoming resistance to change. However, the manager also made it clear that in some sensitive areas, the leadership style has to change to authoritarian, as he has to make decisions without the contribution of subordinates. At times, only the top management makes decisions that subordinates have to follow. For instance, during the harsh economic times, the company had to lay off some employees. Such high profile decisions are made by the top management only.
Sources of Information Used in Planning
Managing individuals in an organisation requires constant planning and development. A manager is an individual who has formal authority over an organisation or one of its sub-units (Gold, Thorpe & Mumford 2010). A manager has status that leads to various interpersonal relations, which gives them access to information. The information is vital to a manager, as it enables decision making, devising strategies and implementing action. Management’s top concern is the optimum attainment of the organisation’s goals and objectives with and through other people (Carmichael 2011).
One of the managerial roles is planning. It has to be undertaken well in order to ensure that its implementation leads to the success of an organisation. Planning relies heavily on the availability of vital information. Information is the accurate data that one acquires about an individual or units (Gold, Thorpe & Mumford 2010). It has to be timely, specific, and must be organised for a given purpose. It must also be availed within a specific time, so as to enable its proper utilisation. In planning, a manager must collect information from all available sources in reference to the issue that requires planning.
The manager has a wide range of sources of information regarding planning. He uses the information, so as to know when he needs to start planning. He also utilises the information during the process of planning. As a manager who upholds democracy within the organisation, employees are a major source of information to a manager. Communication within the corporation is upheld. It applies both horizontally and vertically. The manager upholds the open door communication policy within the organisation. The open door policy ensures that all employees can surpass their immediate managers and supervisors to seek assistance (Miller 2012). It enables employees to have access to any managers, even the CEO (Hargie & Tourish 2009). When employees have to communicate to their superiors through their immediate managers or supervisors, there are usually cases where supervisors do not pass the information up to the organisational hierarchy. In addition, employees cannot give negative information about their supervisors (Walker 2012). As a result of these issues, the organisation has adopted an open door policy of communication. Therefore, the manager has an access to vital information about the organisation from workers. Other than having direct access to managers, employees can give information through suggestion boxes, which are evenly distributed throughout the company.
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In addition, the manager uses other information sources such as available literature, including journals and periodicals. He was a frequent reader of management journals such as the Administrative Science Quarterly, Harvard Business Review, Strategic Management Journal, Human Resource Management, and Journal of Business Research among others. He said, “The journals and periodicals contain numerous issues affecting organisations, and every manager can relate to them...a manager who does not read is a blind manager.” Additionally, he uses the Internet to access vital information about other companies and issues relating to planning. However, he stated that the Internet has diverse information, which one needs to be keen, while using. It might not be true, and at times, it may be misleading. Therefore, he suggested that unless the information is from an accredited source, he has to research on the authenticity of the information from other Internet sources. As stated earlier, he enjoys visiting other businesses to learn about their activities. He also uses such visits to gather vital information that he can apply in planning within his organisation.
When dealing with the information, the manager applies the principals of formal and informal structuring models. He believes that there is not a single model that can fit solely in an organisation. Therefore, an organisation can only use some of the principals, and also make a model, which suits a particular company. From his description, one can conclude that he uses the Information Richness Model proposed by Daft and Lengel (1984, 1986). The model suggests that organisations process and structure information, so as to reduce uncertainty in tasks, and also reduce equivocality in the environmental information. Additionally, the model suggests that in processing information for internal coordination, it is vital for the information to be sufficient. Daft and Lengel (1986) explain information richness as the information’s ability to alter understanding within a time interval. The manager uses the information and structures it in relation to its qualities. If the information acquired proves to be rich, it is highly preferred, and it is used in the planning process. Additionally, the manager uses another informal model for the strategic planning and structuring of information. It entails five steps, which entail engaging commitment, purpose, analysis, decision making and execution. In addition to using this model in structuring information, it is also a model that he uses in the current economic times to plan. Therefore, it will be discussed in detail under the actual planning subtopic.
Role of Planning in Performance Management System
In response to the issue of the role of planning in the performance management of the organisation, the manager sought to clarify something before responding. He said, “At Hunters Plastic Limited, we do only conduct planning, we conduct strategic planning…therefore, allow the response to entail strategic planning.” Planning is the process used to determine in advance what ought to be accomplished, when, how, at what cost, and by whom (Lake 2012). It is the process of determining what objectives need to be achieved. Strategic planning is an activity in organisational management used to set priorities, to focus on priorities, to strengthen operations, to establish agreements around intended results, and to ensure that all stakeholders and employees work towards a common goal (Ebner 2014). It also entails assessing and adjusting the direction of an organisation in response to changes in the working environment. It produces fundamental actions and decisions that guide and shape an organisation in terms of its reputation, clientele, reasons for its actions, and future focus (Simerson 2011). Performance management system entails the process that involves employees in the improvement of organisational effectiveness in the accomplishment of the organisation’s mission and goals (Sahu 2007). The process is used in the communication of an organisation’s goals, in order to ensure that the accountability of individual employees in regard to the goals is reinforced (Varma, Budhwar & DeNisi 2008).
The manager stated that within their organisation, strategic planning and performance management systems are intricately connected to ensure effective performance. He added that in order for an organisation to succeed, they need to make the intention of achieving different results, and the intention to overcome internal change resistance. In order to overcome the resistance, the manager stated that they include staff members in the planning process, and during the introduction of a change agenda. He stated that strategic planning is a tool towards the achievement of what is needed for the performance management. A strategic plan gives a clear definition of the intended changes, which are needed to have a positive impact on the indicators, and they answer as to why the change is essential. In his response, he said, “if there is no clear strategy, every unit of the organisation will have own agenda, which will result in unfocused and uncoordinated efforts towards improvement…the result will be dilution of the impact on performance.” His statement culminated in an argument that within their organisation, the strategic plan is used in the definition of how and when the performance management goals will be achieved.
The improvement of performance consists of innovation, improved execution, and advanced growth strategy (Ebner 2014). The company uses strategic planning to define the best combination of these factors to ensure sustained performance improvement. Their plan focuses on innovation, growth strategies, and improved execution of the activities. For instance, one of the company’s strategic plans entails improving the quality of their products in relation to the clients’ needs. They understand that employees are also part of the society and their genuine opinion on the products may reflect on the opinion of the community at large. As a result, they have planned on using information given by employees to focus on improving the quality. According to the manager, it has two major impacts on their business. First, it enables the improvement of quality in relation to the needs of clients; hence, improved client satisfaction. Second, it improves employee satisfaction of when their opinion is sought and implemented, or considered for implementation. As a result, the quality of their input improves as well. In the long-run, the company’s performance improves.
In order to get the impact of the strategic planning, the manager conducts strategic assessments and internal assessments. The strategic assessment entails the priority opportunities and threats towards business innovation. It results in the prioritised executable growth strategies. On the other hand, they use internal assessment to outline the priority opportunities for performance improvement using better quality, consistency, reduced cost, improved fulfilment, morale, systems, and leadership among others. When combined, they offer the organisation a strategic agenda, which starts with improved performance. It offers the change agenda needed for the performance management. To guarantee that the plan is effective, they apply two tools, which include metrics and accountability. Every project within the plan usually has a metric to indicate whether it is working as intended. It assists in using the resources on the projects that are effective. They also ensure that all stakeholders are accountable to the achievement of the plan. In conclusion, it is evident that planning is essential in the performance management system of the organisation. It is the planning that ensures that the performance management is successful.
Actual Planning in the Current Uncertain Economic Environment
As earlier stated, the manager uses a certain strategic plan to ensure that the organisation can handle the current economic hardships. The manager uses a five-step procedure, which includes, first of all, engagement and commitment of employees and other stakeholders. It is followed by ensuring that the plan has a purpose, which will act as a guide. The manager, then, analyses the organisation within its context, which is followed by making a decision on the strategies to be applied, and finally, the complete and inclusive plan is executed. In addition, the entire process depends on data, deliberation and decision.
Engagement and Commitment
Since the organisation uses democratic leadership, the commitment of stakeholders is vital. Stakeholders are people who will assist in the plan establishment and execution, as well as, individuals who will be affected by the plan. It entails starting and ensuring that there is support for the planning process, as well as, implementing the plan. In engaging the commitment, the manager involves top managers, departmental managers and supervisors, and other employees. Additionally, the planning may be affecting other external stakeholders, and they are also included. When the manager ensures that relevant groups of people are involved, the planning process can begin. The significance of acquiring the commitment of individuals is to ensure that they raise their issues regarding the plan, and as a result, the plan has a high probability of success.
Setting the Strategic Objectives and Purpose of the Plan
The plan has to be guided by purpose or a set of objectives. It entails understanding and outlining for whom the organisation exists, and how the group benefits from the organisation. Setting out of the purpose entails understanding of the overall purpose of the organisation’s business. According to the manager, their purpose is to offer high-quality plumbing products that can be used above and below the ground. Hence, when planning, they always ensure that the organisation’s purpose acts as a guide towards their target. The purpose of the plan has to express the perceived significance to beneficiaries.
Generation of Strategic Options
The planning process in the organisation involves analysis of key strategic factors, prioritising them and generating alternative strategies. It assists in ensuring that the plan considers the actual important issues, which will benefit the organisation. It is also important as it assists in the allocation of the resources. It guarantees that resources and funds are apportioned to the prioritised issues. It ensures that some resources are reserved. The alternative strategies usually assist the organisation in various ways. First, explicit examination of the alternatives, at times, proves that they are superior to the prioritised approach. Second, in the future, the organisation may face environmental changes, and the alternative strategies may come in handy.
Evaluation and Decision Making
The manager uses systematic methods for the evaluation of alternatives. It entails brainstorming and evaluating every alternative exhaustively. It also includes conducting SWOT analysis on every strategy. It is followed by designing a set of strategies based on a few essential decisions. Only the best strategy is chosen, and it has to fit the objectives of the planning. It has to get the board’s approval.
Once a strategic plan is approved, it has to be implemented. The implementation includes provision of formal reports at agreed intervals to ensure that the plan takes place as intended. Additionally, in case the implementation is faulty, corrective action is done. In conclusion, the manager stated that planning ends with successful execution. If a good plan is poorly implemented, it becomes insignificant.