Mary Parker Follet defined management as ‘the art of getting things done through people.’ This means that managers use their employees to perform tasks which will help achieve organisational goals without themselves performing the tasks that are managers and subordinates should fully collaborate. The management in all business and organisational activities comprises of planning, organizing, leading and controlling for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. And Mary Parker Follet is saying the subordinates should be involved in the process of management as it helps in obtaining the organizational goals. Subordinates can be involved in part of management through delegation. Delegation is the act of assigning formal authority and responsibility for completion of specific activities to a subordinate (James A Stoner and Charles Wankel 1986). This makes them feel as part and parcel of the organisation as they would be given the authority to make any decision on the spot. Delegation causes subordinates to accept responsibility and exercise judgement thus it helps train subordinates and improves their self-confidence and willingness to take initiative. And also on the part of managers, their duties will be reduced as they would have delegated some of their duties to the subordinates.
In general, delegation saves money and time as decision making is done quickly, help in building skills and motivate people. However, managers may be reluctant to delegate as they fear a loss of power if the subordinate does too good at the work that the he has been assigned to do. Also the managers are accountable for the actions of the subordinates that is if the subordinate makes mistakes the credit is given back to the delegator thus managers are reluctant to delegate as they do not want to take those chances. Thus delegation supports Mary Parker Follet’s definition as organisational goals can be met through delegation to some extent. The delegation authourity by individual managers is closely related to an organisation’s decentralization authority. Decentralization is when authority is passed down to the lower levels of the organisation, for example lower level managers make their own decisions without consulting the hig level managers. This helps lower level managers to gain more experience and at the same time the workload of the high level managers will be cut. Hence, organisational goals can be achieved through the use of subordinates in the decentralization system. Democratic leadership style can be used to support Mary’s definition of management.
The leadership style allows the workers to share and contribute ideas in the decision making process. This leads to high productivity and more creative solutions to problems, also subordinates may make better contributions and increase group morale. Although the subordinates, share ideas and opinions, the managers still has the final say over decisions. Thus it may also be time consuming since every worker has to be consulted on what they think is right for the organisational and also some subordinates may not have the necessary knowledge or expertise to make quality contributions to the decision making process.
Managers can also implement the management by objectives (MBO) inorder to get things done through other people. MBO refers to a formal set of procedures that begins with goal setting and continues through performance review. It suggests that objectives should not be imposed on subordinates but should be decided collectively with the management. According to George Odiome, MBO is ‘’a process whereby superior and subordinate managers of an organisation jointly define its common goals, define each individual’s major areas of responsibility in terms of results expected of him and use these measures as guides for operating the unit and assessing the contribution of each of it’s members.’’ Thus, MBO can be implemented together with Douglas McGregor’s Theory Y in order to motivate the subordinates. The theory assumes that a worker is willing and wants to work thus he needs less supervision from the manager. MBO aims to take advantage of this willingness and ability to work by showing managers how to provide an atmosphere that will bring out the best in all staff members and give them room for personal improvement at the same time achieving the organisational goals as the subordinates will now be aware of them. MBO also improves communication between managers and subordinates as they will be sharing ideas among themselves, thus the results can help the organisation to obtain its goals more easily since its activities would have been better coordinated.
Finally, MBO promotes an increased sense of unity since the lower level managers will be aware of the top level managers’ expectations and in turn assist in establishing attainable objectives. However, MBO’s review process may bring about tension and resentment if the managers fail to try something new that is promotions and compensation to the achievement of objectives by subordinates. Thus, for the subordinates to do work they need a reward and if the reward is not available they will not be willing to work effectively. On that note, motivation then comes in play. Managers work with and through people but people are complex and sometimes irrational in their behaviour. Thus motivation becomes a vital role in obtaining organisational goals through people. There are many theories which include traditional model, human relations model and human resources model which help support the motivation of subordinates. In the traditional model of motivation, Frederick Taylor and the scientific management school are found. In this model, wage incentives were used to motivate workers that is the more they produced the more they earned, therefore the managers took advantage of this theory in order to make subordinates work to achieve organisational goals. In the human relations model we find Elton Mayo and other human relations researchers. They believed that managers could motivate employees by acknowledging their social needs and by making them feel useful and important. By so doing this that is satisfying these needs ,it will improve the morale of the subordinates and reduces resistance to formal authority, subordinates will willingly cooperate towards achieving the organisational goals. The human resources model include theorists such as McGregor and Maslow who believe that managers should make use of underutilized human resources that is creating an environment in which all members may contribute to the limits of their ability which will lead to direct improvements in operating efficiency, therefore motivation plays an important role in obtaining organisational goals since some workers will not do work efficiently if there is nothing to encourage them do so.
However ,Mary Parker Follet’s definition of management can be criticized since some managers prefer to do the jobs themselves. For example, some managers use the centralized system of managing the organisation. According to Allen, ‘centralization is the systematic and consistent reservation of authority at central points in the organisation.’ This is when decisions are made at a high level by top managers or even by a single individual. For example, the top management decide about the important matters and all the rest of the departments like production, finance, marketing are carried out by by departmental heads and they have to act as per instruction and orders of the top management. In this system,managers will be in control and there is no better supervision of workers as the executives will be under heavy pressure of work. Also the definition of Mary Parker Follet can be criticised by the autocratic leadership style. The leadership style is characterised by individual control over all decision and little input from group members. Autocratic leaders typically make choices based on their own ideas and judgements and rarely accept advice from followers. Autocratic leadership involves absolute, authoritarian control over a group. Some managers use this type of leadership in conjunction with McGregor’s Theory X, which says that people regard work only as necessary for survival and will avoid it whenever possible thus the managers have to be authoritarian otherwise subordinates will achieve little. Thus managers have to make most of the decisions by themselves without consulting the subordinates. Autocratic leadership style is beneficial in cases where decisions have to be made quickly, thus it saves on time unlike where everyone has to be consulted when making decisions. Conclusively, to a greater extent Marry Parker Follet’s definition of management is true since most managers use subordinates to get work done to achieve organisational goals through the use of delegation, MBO,democratic leadership style, motivation and to a lesser extent some managers are authoritative, that is they are the ones who have the final say to everything that to everything that goes on within the organisation thus they centralize or use the autocratic leadership style in order to obtain the organisational goals.
Richard M. Steers and Lyman W. Parker, eds (1983), Motivation and work Behaviour Third edition Douglas McGregor (1960), The Human Side of Enterprise
Peter Drucker (1954), The Practice of Management
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