Functions of Management – “Strategic Manager”

Many critics would say that the term “strategic manager” is an oxymoron. Those critics, however, have a narrow view of what a Manager or management team can do, especially since the best conceived corporate strategies often fail because the organization lacks the capability to execute those strategies. This is precisely why management is strategic. But one must not forget that management is also tactical in nature. Managers can play the role of coach, counselor, advisor, and change agent. This paper will discuss the four functions of management: planning, organizing, leading and controlling.

Change is part of the evolutionary cycle of everyday life. Today, more and more organizations are faced with a dynamic and changing environment that is necessary to maintain their existence in the competitive economic world of business. These organizations realize that change is here to stay and know that if they do not change they will not survive. Whether employees like it or not, managers, supervisors, and leaders have to implement organizational changes. Nicolo Machiavelli once said, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things” (European History Quotes (2006). In the controlling function of management, managers must be able to provide managerial control, manage technology and innovation, create and manage change. To be successful change agents in any institution, managers must know the technical requirements of the change and understand the attitude and motivational demands for bringing it about. Change agents are risk takers who identify areas of needed change in the organization.

They demonstrate flexibility in goal setting and support and reinforce the individual efforts of subordinates during the change process. In addition, change agents recognize the need for change and identify the options and resources available to implement a change, as well as identify and implement appropriate strategies to minimize and overcome resistance to change (Wiest, D.,April-June 2006). For many organizations, change management initiatives first introduced organizational development (OD) concepts into the organization. In most cases, such change increased the demand for management activities in the area of training and development as the need for new skills emerged; managers have responded by providing such training either directly themselves or by bringing in OD consultants and trainers as needed. The role of the manager grew to become more consultative as the demand for managing change effectively across the organization grew. As a result, managers must assist leaders, staff and employees in planning and managing such “change initiatives” in parts of the organization or for the overall organization, thus engaging in OD work (Hawthorne, P. , 2004). Thus, the need for the organizing function in which managers must help to create an organizational structure with agility, human resources management, and a diverse workforce.

Companies must be prepared to provide assistance to their employees in various situations. Mangers must lead and to do so must be able to provide leadership, motivate for performance, instill teamwork and communicate effectively. Often times it is a good idea for an empathetic and specially trained staff member to act as a counselor. This counselor would need to establish guidelines for the organization’s response to the employee’s situation, to make a list of resources that employees might need. It would also be advisable for the individual to make time for workers who are in need of this benefits or support. Many times this individual is a member of the human resources department. Whether dealing through issues such as death, performance management or employee relations, HR must provide these tactical roles for employees. But the role of counselor or advisor must also reach the levels of upper management. “The hierarchical model emphasizes the HR role as agent and advisor to corporate management while the professional model centers on the management of the relationship between the corporation and critical external groups” (Eisenstat, R. ,Autumn 1996) In many companies, the most basic role for the management function has been as an agent for, as well as an advisor and support to, top management. Managers must be able to think through the implications of business issues.. They must be able to investigate it, analyze it, intellectually incubate it, document it, base recommendations on it, and run it up the flagpole. Managers must concentrate on the critical problems of running the business. With administrative and operational efficiencies in place, the attention of managers has turned to other aspects of management. Faced with rapid and constant change, many organizations are seeking improvements in workforce productivity in order to maintain a competitive advantage and, as a result, turning to their managers to help redesign the management function in fundamental ways.

Managers must not only keep up with the pace of business, but also lead the way. They must move faster than even the fastest business teams, anticipating needs and providing solutions before executives ask for them. The clients and customers consider all of their needs to be top priority. Service quality requires them to be respectful of their requests, and to be as responsive as can be. Certainly they need to enable clients to meet their needs promptly and effectively. But they may do this by referring certain tasks to others who can perform them more quickly and efficiently, because of their expertise and service delivery systems. Managers can use technology (email, direct data base access, etc.) to enable employees and their departments to be more self-sufficient. They may also quickly reframe employees’ requests as problems they themselves can solve, without our further involvement (Walker, J.,Sept 1999). Here lie the many functions of managers.