Has the true meaning of management been lost?

Peter Drucker’s book Management has inspired much of the thinking in this blog and most of the ideas are his not mine.JFK_2008

When you boil management down to the basics it comes out something like this:

Purpose: Performance; organisation, division, unit, team and individual – results

Activities: Planning, organising, leading and controlling leading to re-planning …

Concerns: Productivity, achievement, social impacts and social responsibilities.

Unfortunately it appears that “management” has morphed into: a toolkit of skills, leadership, “people” management, personal development, communications and so on.  The focus on organisational performance is obscured – just try reading the UK’s national occupational standards; a real hotch potch of techniques and methods.  And yet, any manager not focused on performance through good planning, effective organisation, inspiring leadership and efficient control is just not really doing the full job.

If you accept the proposition that the true meaning of management has in fact been lost over the years, so what, does it matter?  It does if it means that there is an army of managers out there thinking that doing a part of the management job is acceptable when in fact they are producing inferior results and squandering resources.  It does matter if highly qualified people out there with management qualifications think that management is just a set of skills and not a true discipline in its own right.  Management is at its heart an integrative discipline in that it brings resources together to work efficiently to produce results, have an impact on society and be socially responsible.

Perhaps management has become intellectualised, made to sound complex and arcane, mysterious, elitist and privileged? Is now the time for it to be striped down to its basics so that it is better understood and practised?  Maybe all the jargon (I’m as guilty as the next person) needs to be reduced?

Managers run organisations made up of groups of people gathered together to perform something of value to society.  Whilst organisations persist, there will always be a need for managers and management.

A report published today in the UK by the CIPD notes that 36% of UK managers have had no support or training for their management roles.  If it were immediately obvious what good management was about that would not be a problem – but that is just not the case.  Management like any other discipline needs study, application and hard work and it is not immediately obvious as to how to do this this well.

What’s the practical implication of all of this for you as a manager?  We all need to do the whole of the management job to get the best results for everyone with an interest in the work of our organisations – not just a part of the job the whole job.  Ultimately, we all deserve good management!

I raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK – a small donation at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/everyonedeservesgoodmanagement would be most appreciated

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