Feb 6, 2019 in Interview


It is well established that managers adopt different management styles based on the nature and size of their organizations. At Shamrock Foods Company, the human resource manager was interviewed for the purpose of this paper. The human resource department in this company deals with 521 employees, 405 of which are permanent employees. Being in the food industry, the organization requires close supervision. Thus, it is subdivided into 13 departments, each having a departmental supervisor and a departmental manager. While the departmental supervisor oversees every step of operations, the departmental manager deals with administrative issues. They ensure that everything is in place to ensure smooth operation. According to the human resource manager, he trusts his supervisor to handle most of the operations in the department. However, he is always there for consultation on technical aspects of operations. In addition, he conducts personal supervision to ensure that everything is in place.

At Atlanta Bread Company, the marketing manager was interviewed for the purpose of this paper. According to him, he heads the biggest department in the company. This is because marketing is an important component of any business. Under his office, there are 15 marketing representatives. The marketing representatives were all given cars and a driver to facilitate their operations. They were assigned specific regions that they were responsible for. Every month, they would be given target that they were bound to meet. They would be give bonuses based on the extent to which they achieved these targets. In addition, they are paid good salaries given that they are company’s representatives in the field. The marketing representatives report directly to the marketing manager. In fact, they are required to report to him at least once a week to give him report on the conditions in the market. In this manner, the marketing manager would know what the company needs to adjust in order to serve the market better.

The managing director of Bigelow Tea Company was also interviewed for the purpose of this paper. Being responsible for the overall operations of the company, she has a busier schedule. She ensures that she is adequately briefed about everything going on in the company. This means that she must meet all managers as frequently as possible to stay up to date. According to her, she meets her departmental managers at least once in 24 hours. However, she also makes impromptu visits to all departments to make sure everything is in order. This is because in case anything happens, she will take the ultimate responsibility. Bigelow Tea Company has 9 departments, each headed by a departmental manager. According to her, the quality assurance department is the most closely supervised because it acts like a supervisor for nearly all other departments. It must approve the products from one department before handing it over to the next department. This means that she has to constantly work together with the quality assurance manager (Hackman & Johnson, 2009).

Functions of Management

Planning is principally a preparatory step that determines what is to be done and how it will be done. It entails the details of future course of action with a view to achieve specific goals. Planning is important in that it provides a sense of direction for managers and reduces the risk of uncertainties and wastage of resources on side activities. Planning focuses on achieving specific objectives and usually involves making decisions. There are three levels of planning that should be used concurrently in order to make planning process successful. For instance, strategic planning, which is long-term planning, should map out long-term plans for the organization. This should be backed up by intermediate plans, also called tactical plans. Most important is operational planning, also known as short-term planning. It should be noted that it is operational planning that yields results. In the light of this, it should be properly designed with organization’s objectives in mind (Kotter, 2003).

Organizing, which synchronizes organization’s resources, usually follows planning. Ideally, organizing identifies activities to be undertaken and groups them into distinct categories before assigning authority to be responsible for their achievement. In this manner, overall management only coordinates the activities being undertaken by various categories or departments to ascertain that they are in line with organization’s objectives. This underpins the principle of delegation, which is an important element of organizing. It should be noted, however, that top management can only delegate authority, but not responsibility. Nevertheless, delegation significantly reduces the workload of managers and gives them an ample time to coordinate activities of the organization. In addition, organizing can either be central or decentralized. While decentralizing speeds up operations, it slows down the process of making decisions. This is because many people are involved and, therefore, the process must be sufficiently consultative (Khurana, 2010).

Leadership denotes the process of influencing people to commit to a course and accomplish a specific task. There are several styles of leadership that have been adopted since antiquity. Authoritarian style of leadership, for instance, is where the leader makes all decisions with little input from members of the organization. It is highly preferred when results have to be achieved quickly. There is also the democratic style of leadership, where group leaders engage members of the group in every step of the decision making process. Although the final decision is made by the leader, the decision ideally incorporates the desires and opinions of the group. It is credited with boosting the moral of the members of the group. Laissez-faire is also a style of leadership where the leader exerts little or no control over the members of the group. Actually, some consider it not to be a style of leadership because leaders do not offer any leadership. They essentially let members of the group make their own decision. This style can only succeed if members of the group are highly responsible and understand the consequences of the actions (Hackman & Johnson, 2009).

Controlling is also an important function of management. It aligns activities of the organization to ensure that things go as planned. In controlling, management sets organization’s standards and compares them with the actual activities undertaken. In this manner, they can point out the misfits and correct them appropriately. Controlling should be a continuous process because a slight lapse in the controlling process can destroy the entire process. It should be closely related to planning and aligned to the objectives of the organization. In addition, it should adopt decentralization to ensure proper control of activities at all levels of the organization (Kotter, 2003).

Summary of the Interview Results

The interviews were conducted on different levels of management in the food industry. This makes it easy to compare leadership styles and the extent of managerial supervision. For instance, it was clear that some departments are more closely supervised than others. This was principally due to the fact of the operations undertaken by the department. At Bigelow Tea Company, the quality assurance department was closely supervised because it has responsibility over the other entire department. The department has to approve nearly everything being undertaken by other departments. For example, it has to ascertain the quality of containers purchased by the procurement department. In addition, it must approve the quality of packaging adopted by the sales department. This makes cooperation between the department and the managing director imperative. In fact, the marketing manager was paid slightly higher salary than the other managers because of the weight of their responsibility.

At Shamrock Foods Company, human resource manager emphasized the motivation of employees given that the quality of their products depends upon the dedication of employees. For instance, they need to uphold personal hygiene at all time to avoid introducing to food products. In this regard, any employee with any wounds or suspected contagious infections needs to report to the manager immediately. This can only be done if the manager establishes a good working relationship with the employees. At Atlanta Bread Company, marketing manager insisted on the motivation of marketing representatives. Given that they are company’s representatives in the field, they need to feel satisfied with their job. They should not just do the job for money, but enjoy their work. In light of this, the company is keen to cater for their general welfare. They are given a good basic salary, equitable bonuses and fair promotion opportunities. This makes sure that they adequately promote the company and its products in the market (Kotter & Cohen, 2002).

Analysis of the Interview

Clearly, managers were involved in different levels of management. In addition, they handled departments that significantly differed in terms of responsibility and amount of work. For example, managing director of Bigelow Tea Company was responsible for the overall operations of the company. While she bore the greatest responsibility, she did less work as most of the work was done by managers working under her. However, she bore a lot of responsibility given that she must, by the end of the day, account for everything. This explains why she would personally visit production sites to ascertain that the reports given by departmental managers were true. Other managers mostly did the actual supervision because they headed slightly smaller units. Although they both headed departments, the two managers had different workload. The marketing manager was keen on keeping his team motivated at all times, while the quality assurance manager ensured that his team was always alert and accurate to avoid any production errors. This is due to the fact that production errors lead to total rejection of the batch as they cannot be corrected at later stages. The errors must be identified and corrected immediately in order to preserve the quality of production.

Human resource manager at Shamrock Foods Company noted that control is the most important element of management. This arises from the fact that most employees are never committed to their companies and thus need close supervision in order to work effectively. This is why there is always a supervisor for a closer supervision. The supervisors are required to be present at every stage of production to monitor the activities to ensure that they are aligned to the organization’s plans. Indeed, he noted that planning and organizing make very little sense if control is not sufficient to ensure that they are being implemented. However, the managing director at Bigelow Tea Company was of a different opinion. She noted that her work was only made possible through organizing. The fact that organization’s activities are categorized into several departments makes her work easier as the managing director. For instance, she only needs to get briefs from the departmental heads as opposed to walking from one department to the other. Marketing manager at Atlanta Bread Company however emphasized on the need for planning as well as motivation of the marketing representatives. This is due to the fact it is nearly impossible to closely supervise the marketing representatives. This implies that they need to be trusted to do the best they can. However, they can only work best if they are adequately motivated through remunerations (Kotter & Cohen, 2002).

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Managers were in agreement that democratic style of leadership works best in any organization. Employees must feel part of the decisions of the organization that they are required to implement. They need to feel appreciated in their organizations so that they can deliver. However, they noted that there are times when autocratic style of leadership is the only option. For instance, there is no need of wasting time consulting with everyone when the manager can make a swift decision. Employees will be able to understand that a decision had to be made, even if it was a wrong decision.

Conclusion / Recommendation

In conclusion, the managers generally preferred a democratic style of leadership as it has proven to be more effective. However, they did not rule out the use of autocratic style in times of crises. Besides, it was clear that planning and controlling are essential elements of management. The managers noted that there would be no need for plans if effort is not made to implement them. In order to maintain high productivity, human resource departments need to focus on acquiring the best skills in the market and constantly improve them. The need to focus on employee recruitment should be recommended to the managing director given that the quality of production majorly depends on the quality of workforce. In addition, regular training should be recommended to the marketing manager because of the dynamic nature of the market.

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