Term Paper: Management Style

Pages: 22 (7475 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Management  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Feminine styles of management have been called "social-expressive," meaning that personal attention is given to employees and a positive working environment is created. In contrast, the masculine management style is described as instrumental and instruction giving.

Management cultures have clearly changed over time. In the 1960s, great value was placed on narrow expertise, on mastering prescribed skills and on conforming to the corporate norm. There was no requirement for integrating an employee's workplace and private-sphere responsibilities (Claes, 1999).

In today's organizations, hierarchies have given way to less formal structures. The economy is more diverse, innovation and fast information exchange are the focus, and great value is placed on breadth of vision, as well as on the ability of managers and employees to think creatively. Top-down authoritarianism has gone the way of the dinosaur (or is heading in that general direction), and instead has been replaced with a networking style, in which each person is a resource (Naisbitt & Aburdene, 1986).

While a shift in values towards the "feminization" of management is appearing, there is also an apparent shift away from individualism and extreme directness. This can be thought of as a shift from a left-brain concept of organizational structure, with analysis, logic and rationality predominating, towards a right-brain view, where intuition, emotion, synthesis are more important. In practice, management styles are evolving towards valuing a mixture of the so-called masculine and feminine characteristics (Claes, 1999).

Flexibility and teamwork are among the characteristics that are defined as feminine, with team behavior being seen as increasingly important for management.

It has been pointed out that, in knowledge work (adding value to information), teams become the work unit rather than the individual (Drucker, 1994). The idea of emotional intelligence, or empathy, that is so helpful in a team environment, seems to result much more frequently from the cultural socialization of girls in the U.S. And much less from that of boys (Claes, 1999).

A changing management style requires a change in language and behaviour in business communication. Since women are concerned not just with content but also with relationships, their aims when communicating are naturally different, as are the modes and strategies they use. There is now a need within American business organizations to create a favorable context for the coexistence of the male and the female approaches, in order to make the most of their synergy (Claes, 1999).

At a time in history when the ability to manage change is becoming critical, communication plays a major role. A significant source of dissatisfaction in many organizations today is the lack of a good structure and network for mediating and diffusing knowledge, values and experience. As more women assume leadership positions the shift will continue away from the traditional, hierarchical organization toward one based on partnership and teamwork. Improved communication, cooperation, team spirit and commitment within organizations are all qualities that are essential in today's management style for achieving excellence and maintaining the necessary networks of contacts and relationships (Claes 1999).

The leadership skills of the future, on a global basis, appear to be evolving into a combination of masculine and feminine traits involving strategic thinking and communication skills. As a result, women and men have something to learn and to gain from working together (Powell, 1988). The final result of this evolution will contribute to making organizations more competitive and more successful. In addition, "appropriate" managerial skills now tend to take into account cultural awareness, which is simply the awareness and tolerance of differences.

Openness and acceptance of cultural differences will lead to synergy, and that in turn will allow change and promote excellence in business and communication on all levels (Claes, 1999).

Theory X vs. Theory Y

Another way to look at the evolution of management styles in U.S. businesses is through a comparison of Theory X and Theory Y management. Theory X is considered "classical" management, and consisted of several beliefs. First, that people dislike work and will avoid it if at all possible. Second, that most people must be "coerced, controlled, directed, and threatened with punishment to get them" to work (McGregor 1960, 33-34).

Third, that the average human prefers to be told what to do, wants to avoid responsibility, has little ambition, and craves security.

These assumptions have lead managers to deny employees control over their own work environment and to use direct and harsh methods of influence. Managers following Theory X emphasize the chain of command, reward vs. punishment motivational techniques, close supervision of employees and rigidly followed rules. Classical management practice has hindered rather than helped organizations in solving problems, meeting goals, and delivering a product in a reliable manner (McGregor, 1960; 1961).

Theory X manager assumes that all people are interested more in safety and physiological needs, rather than higher needs, but McGregor believed that workers in the 1950s had moved beyond lower needs and were seeking to meet their social or esteem needs (McGregor, 1960). Based on this conclusion, he proposed a whole new set of managerial assumptions, which he called Theory Y management.

1. The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest.

2. External control and the threat of punishment are not the only means for bringing about effort toward organizational objectives.

3. Man will exercise self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which he is committed.

4. Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement.

5. The average human being learns, under proper conditions, not only to accept responsibility but also to seek it.

6. The capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organizational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.

7. Under the conditions of modern industrial life, the intellectual potentialities of the average human being are only partially utilized (McGregor, 1960, p. 47-48).

Theory Y managers assume that their employees are just as committed to work and as able to find solutions to work-related problems as they are themselves (McGregor, 1960). They also assume that people have an inherent preference for working rather than not working. These managers tend to push responsibility for work down the chain of command, giving employees autonomy within their areas of responsibility. They structure the workload so that employees have good opportunities to identify problems and find creative solutions to them. Theory Y managers try to set up the work environment so that employee goals coincide with organizational goals, believing that this results in greater creativity and productivity (McGregor 1967).

Managers, according to McGregor, choose between the assumptions of Theory X and Theory Y management in defining their management style. Once that choice is made, their management behaviors fall in line with the decision. A manager who chooses a Theory Y orientation will also elect to use strategies that are more collegial and more likely to transfer power to subordinates. At the very least, they will create reciprocal relationships between their employees and themselves.

This is a core component of McGregor's approach to management. Managers truly desire for employees to perform well, and, given the right environment and incentives, employees will also want to perform well. McGregor's model of motivation and management revolutionized the field of management theory. Grounded in psychological theory, a clear definition of creativity, and many years of observations, McGregor's model is persuasive, appealing, and simple (Bobic & Davis, 2003).

Since the publication of McGregor's work there have been dramatic changes in the work environment. There are four fundamental aspects of work in America that have changed, including career paths, the sense of job security, job satisfaction, and the degree to which employees prefer security to creativity. Employees today engage in an ongoing search for new jobs, even if they are satisfied with their current positions. This is clearly in contrast with McGregor's assumption that entire careers would exist within the same company.

Workers have far less security in their prospects for continued employment at any given company than they did in the 1960s and 1970s. The impact of lowered job security and less loyalty has completely changed what employees seek from jobs. When employees believe that corporations will not be loyal to them and they see no particular reason to be loyal to companies, then managers have a much more difficult time in linking individual needs to those of the companies.

Americans became more dissatisfied with their jobs throughout the 1990s. According to a Conference Board survey of five thousand households, conducted by NFO Research Incorporated, there was an 8% decline in overall job satisfaction among U.S. workers in the last half of the decade (58.6% were satisfied or very satisfied in 1995, and only 50.7% were satisfied or very satisfied by 2000 (TCB, 2000). Each of these areas of concern is important to take into consideration, but they do not truly constitute any reason to reject McGregor's… [END OF PREVIEW]

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