Norbert Wiener penned his famous The Human Use of Human Beings almost 70 years ago. It was a fresh look at management and management theory and birthed the field of cybernetics, effectively introducing automation to management theory. Wiener was instrumental in looking at business coordination as a process integrating people and machines (cybernetics) to produce products efficiently. Today’s management training programs in social science, mathematics, psychology, etc. appear unable to understand this integration process. Managers may therefore have communication issues with colleagues in a common workplace.
Management’s Big Job
The role of the business operations systems manager is to coordinate people, departments, equipment, raw materials, etc. to meet a goal–i.e., a product, process, service, or the like. This management responsibility extends to employee hiring, utilizing people in team development, external and internal contract negotiation, budget allocation, facility construction and maintenance, and equipment development to produce an end product. Even when this person is a systems person, this actual managing person is the “go-to” in a company to get things to happen and accomplish the company’s goal. Northrop Grumman’s Manager of Operations Programs, Eric Schaudt, says it very simply, “The operations department actually gets the job that the company needs to get done, done.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates new business ventures will produce a 7% growth in the numbers of these managers from 2014 to 2024. Entry level position is typically at the bachelor’s or master’s level. Certification via the Association for Operations Management in “production and inventory” and “supply chain” management may demonstrate a level of competence for management positions.
Failing to accomplish company goals may occur even with the best of managers and tend to be the result of three categories:
Accountability. Almost half of senior managers fail to require employee accountability because of a desire not to damage the career path of the employee. If there is no accountability, there is no conflict between managers and employees. Managers often avoid conflict, but the role of manager requires accountability. Part of the difficulty relates to our human inability to sufficiently parse a task to measure its success or failure. Yet, a manager is called to define, implement, and evaluate success—a successful manager cannot defer this role.
Defining Goals. Employee success can only be defined in terms of goals. Common problems result when goals are not established, lack clarity, are based on last year’s data, maybe can’t even be measured, or are so ambiguous that multiple interpretations of the goals and their success are possible. Objectives must be short, simple, descriptive, and measurable. When goals are specific, measuring whether they have been met will be obvious to all, thus establishing a measure of accountability.
Continuing Education. The business manager must be proactive in developing team leadership with a company. Employees and supervisors need continuing interaction with managers to foster understanding of goals and their implementation. Such interaction encourages employee engagement, professional growth in the industry, and provides incentives to employees to maintain their roles within a company. Career support ultimately pays off in employee loyalty and success in company objectives and develops leadership for future projects within a company.
Support for Process
Despite the growth of training programs and MBA graduates, our institutions struggle to address management issues, even losing a sense of direction for management. Management technologies have been developed to assist managers with their overwhelming responsibilities. Management platforms facilitate design, implementation, and supervision of business operations. Available internationally, they utilize graphics and metrics that allow measurement of success or failure, based on company business model, management decision tree, and business entity operations. Moreover, these technologies foster a clear “paper trail” connecting goal setting, operational support, and use of tools for monitoring management processes from product genesis to end-product, as defined by initial goal.
Jennifer Livingston is a freelance writer who specializes on topics related to health, business and marketing. When she is not writing she likes to bake, read and travel.