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Managing and managing people
Managing and managing people

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3 What does your effectiveness depend on?

At least four sets of factors influence your effectiveness as a manager, and not all of them are under your direct control.

  • You. In the first place, there is you. You bring a unique blend of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and experience to your job, and these will influence your effectiveness. If you have been a manager for some time, you will remember some of the mistakes you made as a new manager, and can see how your greater skills now help you to be more effective.
  • Your job. Then there is the job that you do. It is likely to have many features in common with other managerial jobs, but just as you are unique, so is your job in its detailed features and some of its demands on you. There may be a good or bad match between your skills and the demands of the job, and this affects your potential effectiveness.
  • The people you work with. The people you work with exert a major influence on how effective you can be as a manager. Descriptions of a manager include ‘a person who gets work done through other people’, ‘someone with so much work to do that he must get other people to do it’, and ‘the person who decides what needs doing, and gets someone else to do it’. Perhaps surprisingly they get close to the truth with their emphasis on the importance of people for the achievement of a manager’s work. One measure of managerial effectiveness is the extent to which a manager can motivate people and coordinate their efforts to achieve optimum performance. However, in most settings managers do not control people in the way that they can control the other resources that they need to get their work done. Rather, managers are dependent on people. Managers’ effectiveness is limited by the qualities, abilities and willingness of these people.
  • If we had been writing 50 years ago, we would have mentioned that there are organisations where commands are frequently given, for example, the military services, the fire service and the police service. In the twenty-first century there will still be situations where a manager in such organisations gives an order and expects immediate compliance. However, many of the processes in organisations such as these now involve softer methods of managing staff.
  • Your organisation. Finally, the organisation you work in determines how effective you can be. How the organisation is structured and your position in it affect your authority and your responsibilities, and impose constraints on what you are able to achieve. Similarly, the culture of the organisation, with its unwritten norms and ways of working, also influences your ability to be effective as a manager.

Effectiveness, then, does not come from just learning a few management techniques. Some techniques are important and necessary, but managerial effectiveness is more complex. It is influenced by a range of factors – you, the job you do, the people you work with, and the organisation you work in.