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Unknotting Business Webs

business webs, communication, motivational, technical, skills, onsite, employees, manager

The urge to improve a business’s performance is a given though the means to doing so can be far from easy. What may retain the progress of business is not so much the admirable technical skills of the human resources but the passionate interests individual human resources have in the business and how effectively they pull their collective passionate interests together to generate a sustainable and renewable team spirit. We begin to unknot business webs from this perspective. Expert communication skills may be enough for a manager to direct the affairs of business well. Expert technical skills without the backing of sufficient communication skills may not be enough for a manager to direct the affairs of business well. With these two assertions, one is bound to say that for a manager to prove his/her worth, communication skills are far more important than technical skills. Much that is about on-the-job production in today’s business ought not to be done by the manager as (working) employees are there to do this kind of work. In any case, that is the major reason the manager hires - usually through a hiring expert - operating employees. The task of motivating the employees lies with the relevant manager, and doing this job - adeptly - depends, for the most part, on, if one should repeat, the communication skills of the manager.

What I mean by communication skills is the same as what the term “communication skills” has come to mean for business-minded people in the field of business; but here, expert writing skills of the manager is not as important as speaking style, bodily mannerisms in relation to employees, sense of cheerfulness, motivational aptitude, flair in mixing with employees, and other allied factors that one may care to state. The last point eases any tense feelings or environmental tensions related to the job that may hinder employees’ creative abilities, impair their respective health and general diligence, all at the workplace.

In celebrating the success of a business, much of the real production would have come from the employees. When profits are being shared as part of the celebration, the mistake is to enable top managers grab them as if they did the hands-on job while hands-on employees or the “real” job doers are left with little or nothing. This is the pinnacle of greediness in business and could obstruct progress if not timely checked. Besides, it encourages managerial laziness and, for sure, managerial parasitism. The potential for sustaining employees’ diligence, their innovative spirit and their sense of belonging to the business comes largely from the motivational aptitude of the manager. Mere sweet talk from the manager that employees should be more productive may fail to capture the attention and win over employees’ commitment. On the contrary, employees may protest in silence by working in a fashion that subscribes more to indifference than to revitalized vitality in the production process. When a manager grasps this (employee) discord, he/she has to address it accordingly with promises of the relevant inducements and their prompt implementation. Of course, he/she has to infuse a new communication style into relations with subordinate employees.

In a sense, one might say that the spirit of business weakens when profit sharing is reserved for top managers. The ethical spirit of business even weakens much more; for what transpires is the implied belief by the managers that employees are, somehow, mere entities whose daily functions is just to do jobs assigned them and get paid some fixed amounts of money. The manager who goes on to establish onsite recreational facilities for use by employees along with paid-for formal educational programs has gone a step ahead in motivating employees, in partly stimulating them to stay on the job. Further inducements include free onsite meal services. In the end, however, what counts much is the feeling by employees that they are being rightly rewarded for their hard work. This is where proportional monetary benefits come in while other non-monetary inducements may count less.

I am not really clear about the meaning of the claim that a particular managing director or chief executive officer (CEO) has what it takes for a business to grow and develop. Thus, some shareholders, boards of directors may classify CEO X - say a man - as “hot” and, hence, worth employing, giving X all the necessary financial incentives to attract him to a prominent company. Ask yourself what makes X so special, and go on to examine X’s proficiency. You will see that there is nothing so special about X. Go further to ask yourself: “Why has the sales and marketing component of the business flourished since X was hired? Why have the sales volume rocketed? Why has the business’s revenue increased so much?” Can it be said that X did all the requisite great work in each of these departments? Suppose it is said that X did all these things, then he must be a superhuman, which he is not. What actually X did was to enlist the vital services of renowned professionals, experts in the job market and convince the business owners to offer them attractive benefits, so that the work so desired for the business to grow and develop gets done. The hired experts go on to link up in an effective manner with hands-on and other employees - as if team spirit has been given a new boost, has been lifted to a great height, thanks to the big efforts of the hired experts. Team spirit does matter much more than the expert utilization of each employee’s technical skills devoid of the team spirit. For sure, the latter approach lacks the human-centred element in production and warns that unshared on-the-job knowledge and skills can generate faults far more than the contrary. With the steady application of team spirit and its unfailing reinforcement, it can be claimed that production is socialized to generate an advanced, ethically praiseworthy capitalistic business. Thus, a socialized style of production is more secure than its individualized counterpart; it produces the best family spirit at the workplace. The closer the company family, the better! That is what business security is about.

Now, coming back to X, the CEO, we should remember that he is proficient in what he does. He has a remarkable foresight, a clear understanding that a CEO is not the one to be solely credited with a successful business. He recognizes that joint effort, pulling together all the human resources in business and granting each employee a fitting reward is the chief determinant of business success. If this is what a pragmatic CEO does - such as X does - he need not accumulate or acquire a wide range of skills before it can be said that he is really an expert, a man with the desired calibre. At last, when a business shows overwhelming success, it may be silly to attribute the success solely to the CEO - knowing very well that it is a renewed team spirit that brought about the success. But why was CEO W let go because of business failure and replaced by CEO X who brought the blessing of success to the business? Does it mean CEO W lacked technical competence compared to X? Since a renewed team spirit is what brings about success, the issue of technical competence ought to be excluded as a major component of the CEO’s special skills. The “magic” brought about by X is what the previous CEO was unable to bring about though he could have done so. CEO X chose to yield to the spirit of change that went against the traditional company culture he came to meet. He instituted bold human experiments, not structural experiments, which were pretty unconventional. Instead of going by the traditional rule that job titles should determine job functions, he went by the unconventional rule that titles are by themselves useless. For him, different functions should be coordinated and reinforced through team spirit. The effectiveness of team spirit decides the relevance of the assigned titles of individuals, each of whom plays a role in team spirit.

Modern employers who are fond of basing a manager’s competence on technical skills make the mistake of correlating the manager’s functions with hands-on work, which it is not. The question is: are all managers the same in terms of functions or are they different in this light?

Ordinarily, we know that there are technical managers, those whose duty it is to see to it that hands-on employees do what is right. They are fully aware of the details of the work, both in terms of its design and its coordinated implementation. They comprehend mistakes, usually with ease, and direct their correction so as to continue the course of production. A technical manager has to supplement technical skills with communication skills particularly in the area of human-centred aptitude. Even if he/she is able to grasp the details of hands-on jobs, what chiefly builds up trust, confidence, the joy and interest of working, the feeling that when business succeeds, employees succeed as well, rests largely on the communication style of the technical manager in relation to subordinate employees. He/She has to be able to grasp, in general, the emotional condition of subordinate employees, their general mood, their dispositional attitudes and respond to them accordingly, so that subordinate employees are motivated without fail.

There are also non-technical managers who may be termed “general managers”. These are the managers whose scope of expertise need not be fitted within the technical framework. They have a general understanding of the job, not its great details. Their wide-ranging skills at the workplace, which are unrelated to any specific discipline, make them have a farsighted view of all aspects of the business and, thereby, offer the pieces of coordinated skills necessary and sufficient to toughen the progress of the company. These are the great administrators, the fine motivators, the brilliant verbal and non-verbal communicators, and the people with splendid interpersonal skills. It will be a mistake to call such managers “specialists”. Perhaps, a better term is “general specialists”. For the technical managers, they may be called “specific specialists”.
Published: 2009-10-06
Author: Stephen K. Ainsah-Mensah

About the author or the publisher
I'm a race relations and education consultant. I used to work as a community-based projects coordinator as well as a college instructor in business courses and life skills. Furthermore, I'm a writer. Presently, I'm a principal of an education group in China. I like to travel to places to exhibit authentic culture or traditions. I'm a fan of all kinds of music though not rock. Being in a meditative mood enriches my soul with calmness, peace.
www.amensk.blogspot.com

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