INTRODUCTION The world of management is changing at an unprecedented rate which places pressure on managers to adapt in order to cope with the challenges that emerge. A manager responsible for leading a Learning Focused Organisation in the 21st Century should possess some important skills, knowledge and attributes (SKAs) to lead an organisation effectively. Ten SKAs will be looked at with supporting evidence demonstrating their importance to managers in a fast moving world. 10 SKAs 1.
Effective communication skills are a large aspect of a manager’s role in a 21st century organisation as it is an every day skill which entails many facets.
Listening, verbalising and sharing knowledge spreading through all levels of an organisation. Infante et al argues that the communication process must include tools which encourage openness, dialogue and honesty within a multicultural and changing organisation (Infante et al, 1995, pp 307). 2. Relationship building skills are important in creating and maintaining quality contacts that may help a manager to access various resources needed to develop a Learning Focused Organisation.
Jacowski (2008) suggest that building lasting relationships with those in similar industries is vital, as they can provide valuable services for an organisation in the future. 3. Time management skills are important, Brooks & Schofields (1995, p4) state “time equals money and that without effective management; both time and money are consumed quickly and can appear to evaporate”. Time spent on specific tasks can be measured through estimation, questioning and interviewing resulting in the saving of money and the overall time scale spent to be market ready (Brooks & Schofields, 1995).
The allocation of time, money and resources is a vital component to developing a Learning Focused Organisation in the 21st Century. 4. Problem solving is a valuable skill derived from a rational or logical perspective incorporating four steps. Carlopio, et al; argue the value of developing problem solving skills is to assist the 21st century manager in coping with constant change (Carlopio, et al, 1997, p169). In applying these skills they suggest steps such as define the problem, generate alternative solutions, evaluate and select an alternative and implement and follow up on a selected solution. . Liu and Chen (2002) suggest that conflict resolution skills are important to managers of the 21st century especially now with a very multicultural work force influencing outcomes. Culture determines ones values, interests, it shapes perceptions and the choice of alternatives. (Liu & Chen, 2002, p170). Minor conflicts can destroy team spirit so it is important for a manager to deal with these conflicts promptly and effectively (Knutson, 2001). 6. A manager of the 21st Century must be prepared to anticipate and cope with change.
As new changes arise regularly with the advancement in technology, customer and stakeholder’s needs and the global situations, a manager must be prepared to accustom themselves for constant change. Continual change with continual improvement. Hermens proposes that today’s survival of an organisation depends more and more on the rapid response to the changing world, also requiring a manager to be flexible, adaptable and change ready. (Hermens, 2009, p16) 7. As global situations change it is a role of managers to innovate so that an organisation may stand out in these quickly changing times. A business which is serious about competing in fast changing markets with fast changing technology must make things happen – it must innovate” (Johne, 1999, p7) contribution to an organisations competitive advantage. Sexton (2003) also argued there was a link between innovation and competitive advantage for successful companies in the 21st century. 8. Self development and continual learning is vital to managers in a rapid changing 21st Century in order for the organisation not to be left behind.
Jacowski suggests that a successful manager, through learning adjust to changes that apply to their industry and guide the company to make seamless changes to stay ahead. “You should always continue your education and learn from the mistakes of other businesses” (Jacowski, 2008). 9. The rapid changes in technology have transformed the way managers carry out their work within organisations of the 21st century, making markets and organisations more interconnected than ever. Hunt (2001) discusses some changes with the introduction of the internet and intranet making communication and sharing of knowledge easier, introducing more home based work.
The set up of corporate meeting rooms with satellite technology for videoconferencing has reduced face to face communication and reducing cost that would otherwise be spent on travel. (Hunt J, 2001 p8) 10. Futurist / creative thinker. Managers that are creative and forward thinking help in changing the way organisations are run. Toffler transformed the way people explained societal change through the three waves of change and the powershift illustrating information and knowledge are driving forces of organisations in the 21st Century.
Peters (1996) through the 4th Wave, Creation Intensification saw organisations create imaging to associate to a particular brand. Coca Cola and example that created ‘Coke is Life’ imagery at customers (Cited Hernens, 2009 p18-19). The ambition to be a leader is “the inner fuel that helps drive people toward their vision”. (Davis, 2008) Although a manager must posses many skills, knowledge and attributes (SKAs) to perform their job, one can not be proficient in all. The righter will discuss three managerial qualities that could be improved with in her organisation.
Creating a team focused work culture, self development and education to become a better leader and verbal communication will be looked at more closely within the Hospitality Industry. Creating a team focused work culture Worral, L. & Cooper, C. (2000) illustrated that the softer skills of interpersonal skills, working as a team, coaching and counselling have been placed further down the list in priorities for managers. Today a good manager of the 21st Century is able to connect at peer level to collaborate to deliver customer satisfaction, enhanced reputation, and employee retention. Smikie,J. 2009). The hospitality industry is a demanding customer service based industry. The manager of L’Aqua aims at encouraging staff to work together for the common goal and vision of creating customer service that is exceptional and memorable for clients. The Toyota theory still relevant to today’s organisations in the 21st century demonstrates the benefits of creating a culture that work together as one by modelling team work and encouraging the interaction with each other and the organisation.
The use of this concept and interpersonal “soft” skills within L’Aqua will aim to develop, challenge and assist in personal growth crating a team culture that work together for the benefit of the customer which in turn promotes organisational prosperity. “People who bring the system to life: working, communicating, resolving issues, and growing together. It goes well beyond this; it encourages, supports, and in fact demands employee involvement. ”(Liker, J. 2006, p. 35) Mintzberg (2006 p5) discusses that effective leaders are those who engage with others.
The implementation of this theory through group training sessions, encouraging group communication and feedback as well as service guidelines will ensure all staff has a common understanding of the organisational culture and expectations on service. The service provided to patrons must be higher than that seen in the past and will be driven and controlled from all levels of management to ensure consistency across the board. “on going education and training of all employees support the drive for quality” (Shark 1998)
Shark (1998) discusses the importance of monitoring and measuring the success of a team in achieving the organisations goals. L’Aqua will measure through surveys, communicating with staff through briefings and Total Quality Management. Doige and Whitchurch (1993) appling TQM to the public sector with “continuous improvements to meet goals which are aspiration, a customer-centred approach, and commitment at all levels from top management down” giving management feedback that can be improved on.
L’Aqua use customer surveys to measure performance and quality. Information collected is then relayed to the manager which is communicated to the team. Praise is given for good team work and improvements are made if necessary. The feedback collected will allow the organisation to make adjustments and changes making the organisation a double loop learning organisation. (Hermens, 2009, p50-51) Self development / education to become a better leader The way management had been taught has changed through the ages as industries changed.
Today in the 21st century and the quest for self improvement on the rise it is important to have an experienced and well developed management team at the forefront of an organisation (Heames & Harvey, 2006, p. 29). Research in 1995 suggested that managers were not formally trained and there are fewer that undergo any further managerial development. Australia was the lowest ranking country to have managers with tertiary qualifications compared to other major trading nations. It is a major disadvantage not encouraging managers to obtain qualifications and education (The Karpin report 1995).
On the job training and University are two types of training that the writer has undergone. There is much to know if one wishes to be a great executive in today’s multicultural global market and there are many ways to gain knowledge. First hand experience in a leading role is a helpful way of developing an executive, learn by doing. (Heames & Harvey, 2006, p. 39) The venue manager of L’Aqua had no formal training in management the skills, knowledge and attributes (SKAs) were developed on the job through guidance from senior management, everyday experiences dealing with people, trial and error.
Lawson argued that the benefits of on the job training are that the worker can demonstrate these new or enhanced skills immediately (Lawson, 1997, p55). The Karpin report found that Australian managers were not as skilled in their functional expertise as the workers they manage are in theirs, however if a manager begins and trains with the worker there is a greater understanding in the functionality of tasks. Training and professional development opportunities for all staff members and managers must be considered if individuals are to maintain their professional currency and remaining competitive in the marketplace.
The writer in the course of attending University aspires to gain knowledge to integrate into the organisation where it is lacking. L’Aqua will engage in increasing peer interaction, acknowledge multiculturalism, lead by doing, measuring techniques such as Total quality management and building a team through Toyota’s theory to assist with the transition of change. “Develop yourself, then be yourself. Staff will catch on” (Smikie, 2009, p. 29).
Knowledge gained through reading, conversing with colleagues, keeping journals that can then be reviewed and critically analysed will be used to make changes in the way one managers. Through critical analysis of ones self improvements can be made “develop the capacity to listen, learn, reflect, and acknowledge mistakes” (Smikie,J. 2009). Verbal Communication Communication is a vital skill for managers in any organisation in the 21st century ranging from customers, workers to top management.
In Australia where multiculturalism thrives it is important to respect cultural values and beliefs when addressing people (Clegg, 1998, pp 429). Clegg contends that communication needs to be frequent, informal and formal. The hospitality industry prospers on personal differences and multiculturalism that all interact verbally. It is important to find a common language that is accepted and acknowledged remaining respectful to individuals. Good verbal communication has seen to be linked to creating effective team building through the sharing of experiences and knowledge (Knutson, 2001 pp44).
Team briefing, a tool suggested by Infante et al can be used by L’Auqa to communicate information to employees and also encouraging team culture (Infante et al, 1993, pp 309). “Communication is regarded as a key issue in the successful implementation of change” Kitchen & Daly (2002, pp50). Employee performances can be influenced by effective communication. Infante et al argued that managers’, who communicated in a friendly manner, are less argumentative, less aggressive and provided valid reasons for introducing the change influenced employee performance (Infante et al, 1993, pp 710).
By adapting communication traits such as a relaxed affirming style, friendliness, attentiveness and enthusiasm L’Aqua can aim to increase employee performance and team work. CONCLUSION A successful manager of a learning focused organisation in the 21st Century must posses several skills, knowledge and attributes in this changing world. Managers should undergo regular training to improve their SKAs to better communicate changes with employees and build a team for the future of the organisation.
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