Management Seminar

Demonstrate a basic understanding of the terminology, history and theories of business and management principles.

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Although the concept of management is already a few centuries old, the basis for the development of a science of management was laid during the Industrial Revolution. Until the 1960’s diverse viewpoints on management were recognized leading to the development of a more integrated approach to management. The process approach emphasized the basic functions of management followed by the systems approach which highlighted the interdependency of the internal and external environments. The importance of situational variables than can have an appreciable influence on planning, organizing, activating and control by management was underlined by the contingency approach. Over a long period of time agreement could not be reached as to the ‘best approach’ to the basic problematics of management and different theories were propagated. However, the demarcation of the management task as a particular process within the business system as it interacts with its environment, still appears to be the most comprehensive approach to management. America is the birthplace of the free enterprise system, which is responsible for the continual creation of new business models, ideas and innovation. Within this framework several attempts have emerged to develop newer approaches such as management by excellence, strategic management, the Japanese style of management which is based upon the decision-making by consensus, collective responsibility, slow evaluation and promotion, and informal control; and the management of innovation of change present new and informative perspectives on management. Similarly, the ever changing world environment compels businesses to pay more attention to the management of innovation and change. Albeit, management will probably have to continue to exploit what the existing approaches offer. The most comprehensive approach nowadays is a combination of the process, the systems and the contingency approaches. Management as a universal human activity consists of four basic management functions, namely planning, organizing, activating and controlling. Each element forms part of the whole of general management in which one management function cannot exist without the other.

Develop effective written and verbal communication skills.

There are very few skills as important to a manager as the ability to communicate well, which includes all written, spoken and electronic interaction. Communication involves the process that links managers with the execution of the basic and additional management skills in order to achieve business objectives. The aim of good communication within the business – besides informing, reminding or bringing about a certain activity – helps to reach a number of important objectives, namely to contain costs, to increase productivity, to give moral support and to overcome obstacles in communication. A communication plan should therefore encompass objectives, goals, and tools for all types of communication including online communications, media relations, liaison with committee and board members, and speeches. To effectively develop communication skills you need to brainstorm with communication staff, talk to other departments, interview the chief staff executive, audit the business’s customer service policy, and host focus groups. The advantage of written communication is that it is tangible, lasting and controllable. The message can thus be kept for an unlimited time and is particularly suited to extended communication. On the other hand, the purpose of non-verbal communication is to convey the feeling or attitude behind the message. A person may, for example, say “no” by clenching his fist, or smile to indicate that he feels sure of himself; it is also intended to promote relationships. The impact of a genuine smile and an open hand is even greater than the manager’s friendly words. Some forms of non-verbal communication that are important in the work situation include gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Cultural differences should also be taken into account when communicating with people. Western culture recognizes eye contact as part of good communication during a conversation, but in some cultures this is not the case. The volume of your voice also has different meanings in some cultures. For instance, should an with a Japanese, the following aspects may cause confusion. The word “yes” is translated with “hi” in Japanese. In Japanese, it means “Yes, I understand you” and not “Yes, I agree.” When a Japanese manager tell you “I shall give your offer positive consideration, it means no, not yes.

Develop analysis, problem-solving and planning skills that lead to effective decision-making.

Decision-making is an ongoing management function that affects every facet of management and the business. Managers decide what must be manufactured, who must be employed and how the business must be organized. This decision-making by the individual manager is influenced by the individual’s personality and the physical and social environments. Decisions are always made against the background of certainty, uncertainty and risk. The handling of such situations differs from manager to manager and from situation to situation. Managers often follow approaches that have worked on previous occasions in the hope that they will be successful again. However, many managers use their intuition and while others make use of the more expert advice of specialists. The rational decision-making process is dynamic, ongoing and without a set procedure. Therefore the process does not end with the implementation of the decision, but leaves room for follow-up, feedback and adjustments regarding the elimination of possible problems in future decision-making. The decision-making process is always influenced by the management environment. The international, macro and market environments are subject to constant change. As a result future prediction is very difficult. Decision-makers should nevertheless use the available information and make present decisions that will show results in the future. The more applicable, accurate and reliable the information is about the circumstances regarding the problem or situation, the better the identification and definition of the problem. An effective evaluation of the different alternatives makes the final decision a mere formality. Instead of handling the various alternatives in isolation, ask “Which alternative will give the best results? A technique for the improvement of , which requires that ideas are drawn out by pooling the skills and efforts of various individuals.

Demonstrate knowledge of social and professional skills.

Managers at the various levels of management require different skills in order to accomplish their management task. While every manager should have the three basic types of skills, namely conceptual skills, which imply the intellectual ability to perceive the business as a whole and to co-ordinate and integrate all interests and activities; human skills, which involves the ability to work with people and to understand and motivate them; and technical skills that refer to the ability to apply techniques, procedures or resources in a specialized area. Similarly, as figurehead of a department or section a manager fulfils certain ceremonial duties, such as presenting certificates for achievements, receiving visitors or entertaining clients at lunch or dinner. The role of leader also involves the selection, training, motivation, encouragement and disciplining of personnel. A manager also fulfils an internal liaison role when he or she liaises with other managers or when dealing with suppliers and clients. Social skills include all aspects of business etiquette, conversation, listening skills, professional dress, cultural diversity, business introductions, telephone etiquette, office meeting etiquette, business networking, workplace etiquette, business dining, international protocol, workforce diversity and executive coaching. Professional skills include new employee orientations, professional development, public speaking, and presentation skills.

Evaluate the theories and practice of ethics and the importance of a strong work ethic as defined by current American business practices.

Ethical decisions involve more than just rules and laws. Merely abiding by rules, laws or any ethical code is not sufficient. If a person or the environment is adversely affected by decisions that are taken, management cannot hide behind the law or any “official rules.” Yet, business problems are often complex; transgressions such as fraud and theft are simple to understand, analyze and judge, but when it comes to matters such as the compensation of employees, pollution of the environment and the misleading of customers, matters become more complicated. Whenever a decision has financial, social and legal consequences, all factors must be taken into account. There is no general rule pertaining to all ethical problems. It is impossible to prove that one person’s norms are “better” than those of the next person. It is therefore the responsibility of every manager to act according to the accepted principles determined by the frame of reference. The purpose of ethical social responsibility is to make sure that all stakeholders are treated fairly and justly. The point of departure of ethical decision-making should incorporate the core principles for evaluating decision-making from an ethical and socially responsible standpoint. Questions should include “Are the facts correct? Is it legal” and Is it fair towards and equitable for all the parties concerned?” The main hindrances to proper stewardship in social responsibility are ignorance, impatience and greed. The technological developments of the last decade have outrun our understanding of their consequences and side effects. Competitive pressures to be the first in the market linked to the technical need to produce quickly, will frequently lead to untested products appearing in the marketplace. Business culture originates from the history of the business and the value system that exists within the business. In the American context the business culture or elements of it are built into its national culture, which stresses individual initiative and achievement. A strong work ethic is evident among American business people who are opportunistic, determined and consistent in their motivation to achieve. The concept “time and money” is taken seriously in our business culture while money is a key priority and an issue hat will be used to win most arguments. Americans tend to be future oriented, which means that innovation often takes precedence over tradition.

Translate the fundamentals of marketing, finance, accounting, business operations and management.

Marketing is often misunderstood. To many it is just a fancy word for selling; to others it’s about advertising and promotions. Still other people think of marketing as market research – finding out what customers want. In a sense, marketing is about all of these and yet it is much more. Marketing is not selling, yet the culmination of successful marketing is a sale. Clearly marketing is concerned with customer satisfaction and with the identification of marketing opportunities; it is also concerned with the harnessing of the firm’s resources and the focusing to be successful in the market place. The financial function deals mainly with the raising, allocation and control of the business’s capital. The overall tasks of financial management include the investment decision (the determination of the type and quantity of assets needed by the business), the financing decision (the financial structure and resources and the cost of capital) and the dividend decision (financial analysis and the utilization of income). Administrative or information management is concerned with bookkeeping (accounting) and the collection, storage and release of information by means of a computerized management information system, as well as cost accounting, archive control and general office organization. Other tasks include budgeting, budget control and reporting, management control, cost determination, strategic planning, tax levies, auditing and preparation of financial statements. Business operations and Management involve activities around the creation of goods and services. These activities include the planning, manufacturing and controlling of the product, designing the product, establishing a factory, choosing the manufacturing process, factory layout, machinery and equipment, and internal transport and quality control.

Develop an understanding of the applications of technologies and how they impact business operations, such as information systems and e-commerce.

Understanding technology, especially computer and Internet technologies, is an essential aspect of modern management knowledge. While eCommerce has become the platform for future commercial advancement, its range has been extended by the development of m-Commerce (mobile commerce). It has become essential to understand the basic interaction between the Internet and business and the way in which information systems and databases interact to create a cohesive platform for trade and industry. It is inconceivable that a manager would not have in-depth knowledge of these aspects, as they form the foundation layer of modern commerce. The sharing and networking of information across company intranets and the Internet have also become essential management tools. A manager is not only expected to have knowledge of the way that the system interlinks and relates to its different parts, but he must also have at least basic hands-on knowledge of the software involved and the possibilities for management tasks that the software provides.

Develop an understanding of the importance of customers and customer relations, both internal and external to an organization.

Perhaps the most important environment in which firms operate is their customer environment because this is the most basic belief of the marketing oriented company – that the customer is the hub around which the business revolves. Management and marketing people need to understand the processes that their customers go through when making buying decisions. The purpose of business is to create and keep customers. It therefore pays to consider one’s business as concerned with developing relationships with customers to ensure continued customer loyalty. Investment in customer relationship management is a dynamic development because customers today have more money and higher expectations in life; they are better educated and more sophisticated; their social habits have changed and they are more appreciative of technological development. Because customers are the final arbiters of quality, it is essential for the company to maintain some sort of dialogue with them and to listen to what they say. It is therefore essential that personnel dealing with customers are properly trained and re-trained to deal with enquiries and that their product knowledge, company policy and basic PR skills are satisfactory. This also implies to the behavior of management and personnel when dealing with the public outside of the organization; it is vital that they are made aware that even in their private capacity they still represent the company.

Analyze the meaning and significance of globalization and cultural diversity.

Globalization is the tendency of business’s to spread throughout the world. While many believe that globalization creates greater opportunities for growth benefiting the developed nations while leveling the playing field everywhere else, opponents of globalization believe that it will merely increase the opportunities for the wealthier nations to take advantage of the poorer ones and could eradicate regional diversity and lead to a homogenized world culture. However, many companies are adding cultural diversity to their marketing mix and targeting various ethnic groups as a new consumer potential.

Successfully complete a standardized case study on management styles and trends.

Case study: The business AZT used to be a state controlled utility supplier, but two environmental factors, namely a change in economic policy and new technology, resulted in the business undergoing comprehensive restructuring. Before the restructuring, the business was managed virtually like a state department, but now, after the restructuring and privatization, a small group of engineers are managing the business with the aim of optimizing production and providing unconditional and professional service. However, after the reconstructing a problem has emerged. The employees were offered production and incentive bonuses in exchange for a well established system of perks that was virtually synonymous with the business. Management bumped their heads against the metaphorical wall one afternoon when a total strike took place. The general manager was given the task of immediately implementing a program for the management of change.

A a) The manager is required to typify the business before and after the restructuring.

While the previous management structure of AZT tried to adapt to different influences such as technological, economic, political, legal and labor developments, they were not capable of changing their basic value systems. This value crisis created a frustrating experience for the people involved with the business and it became necessary for the business to undergo reorganization. With the new management in place the process of change was subjected to three basic components, namely the status quo or current situation, the transition phase and the expected future situation. The first phase involves the unfreezing of the business to enable it to see the need for change, because it must be accepted that change cannot simply be introduced without preparing the people involved. The unfreezing phase is then followed by the transition phase during which new processes are implemented. The third phase of the process is the refreezing phase which has the purpose of supporting the implemented policies.

A b) The manager is required to negotiate a solution to the problem that has occurred with the employees.

It is important that the Manager adopt a collaborative managerial approach when communicating with the disgruntled employees. By inviting their opinions and grievances they are given a fair chance to air their views and co-operate with management to arrive at a solution that is satisfactory to both the business and the workers. Management may introduce a new incentive program that offers a reward-system that ensures that personnel perks remain unaffected. It is important that management and staff agree that the future prosperity of the business depends on a positive give and take relationship. The new collaborative relationship between management and staff is beneficial to the implementation of new strategies, which include co-opting, providing information, training programs, encouragement, recognition and monetary rewards.