Management forms a crucial part of many important activities in our daily lives. Often, people from social organizations aimed at undertaking objectives that cannot be accomplished individually making management essential in ensuring the harmonization of individual inputs (Stein, 2018 p.28). As society continues to depend on group input and organizations increase in size, the job of managers has correspondingly increased in both complexity and significance. Therefore, management theories have become vital in the manner in which managers run organizations (McCarthy, 2016 p.91). The main argument of this essay is that even though some managers across the globe could have accomplished success in management without the basic managerial knowledge in management theories, the managers with an understanding of these theories have higher chances of leading their organizations more effectively and efficiently to realize both organizational and individual goals.
Problem solution constitutes the essence of what managers exist to do. As a manager, the main objective remains to lessen the chances of problems occurring in running an organization. Therefore, this demands that as a manager, one must be ready and brave enough to tackle the issues head-on before circumstances get out of hand (Donaldson, 1990 p.372). However, dealing with such problems demands knowledge in management theories rather than essential readiness and courage. Furthermore, management requires resilience in creating and maintaining organizational momentum both for the objectives and consumers of the organization (Rana, 2018 p.70). The reality of the workplace finds managers having to deal with individuals complicating issues with power plays, corporate politics, compounded with the managerial duties of coordinating activities, assessing performance, handling complaints, training staff and colleagues as well as dealing with disciplinary issues (Rana, 2018 p.72). It's evident; such responsibilities demand not only experience and skills but also the theoretical knowledge of management (Fox, 1997 p.730). According to Hibbert and Cunliffe (2015 p.180), managers who lack vision and the understanding of management theories approach problems with a linear perspective. In this way, they only see the issue at hand forgetting the possibilities lying within it. Therefore, such managers cannot know the entirety of what the problem means and that it could serve as an enabler for improving existing procedures, protocols, and procedures (Rana, 2018 p.68). The knowledge and understanding of the learning theory would help a manager in such a situation navigate the problem with ease and efficiency.
I recently had an opportunity of working under a manager launching his first endeavor in the food sector. In launching, the business had problems with the adhesion of labels to the glass jar packaging of the products. The problem affected more than 20 percent of the first product shipment. However, this was the initial shipment to a new consumer who was testing the new product in more than a hundred stores with a chance of distribution expansion to more than 2000 stores. In approaching the problem, the manager employed an approach for problem-solving involving several steps but not reflecting any of the management theories covered in the course. However, the results of the multiple steps approach was a complete change effort in management with the label supplier, client, manufacturer, and Trucking Company. The manager, rather than simply perceiving the problem as an obstacle that could lose clients for the business, employed proactive measures as well as financial measures to show the new client capability to solve problems. Furthermore, the efforts were aimed at earning the trust of the client through prompt and efficient response along with a comprehensive step by step occurrence report covering the efforts of change management.
The approach involved in this process included four steps. First, the manager emphasized on transparent communication where all the concerned parties were free to express their ideas about the problem. The second step involved breaking down silos to enable open communication and facilitate an unopen organization with a culture based on the attaining the set objectives. The third step involved, encouraging open-mindedness an enabling the first two steps of transparent communication and breaking down of silos. The last step involved a solid foundational strategy for change. Reflecting on the approach employed by the manager in dealing and managing the business in the wake of the problem, I realized that some management theories covered in the course were better suited to solving the problem.
To begin with, the learning theory would have been best suited for this scenario based on Kolb's learning cycle. Kolb's learning cycle includes four steps, theorizing, planning, acting and reflecting which the manager did not seem to have an appreciation of (Kolb and Kolb, 2009 p.50). The manager was mainly focused on communication which he principally considered as the main cause of the problem. However, the problem may have been caused by several other factors that may have been considered if Kolb's learning cycle was used. Moreover, the approach to solving the problem may have involved strategy and acting, but planning and reflecting were not involved as the manager fought to keep the client and make a good impression. This would have been better achieved through learning theory through a more open-minded and in-depth approach (Barker, Lencucha and Anderson, 2016 p.31). Another approach in learning theory that may have been effective in this case is team learning (Wallace, 2019 p.17). The manager's approach involved teamwork, which to some degree resonates with shared meaning and joint planning. However, the action taken in response was not coordinated, and public reflection was not considered. As such, the manager may have solved the problem, but an awareness of the learning theory may have given better results and facilitate organizational learning.
Through this experience, I was able to understand the nature of management practice. Management constitutes a vital factor in the success of any organization. Despite the lack of application of management theories, the manager was able to navigate the problem. Furthermore, management involves the process of doing things through others as seen in the manager encouraging the staff to communicate and come up with solutions to the problem. The nature of management as being goal oriented is evident in this case, as the main objective remained to solve the problem and to avoid client loss. Management is situational and dynamic as it does not advise the best means of approaching problems. Effective management is mostly situational, depending on the problem and the nature of the organization.
Furthermore, reflexive practice theory would have suitably helped in solving the problem and being reflective means to carefully think and consider how to approach a problem (Cunliffe, 2002 p.40). In employing the four steps, the manager did not apply any aspects of reflective thinking. The idea of transparent communication was aimed at the specific problem at hand but did not reflect on the general vision of the business. Breaking down the silos was considered to enhance communication and open-mindedness to come up with the solution to the problem at hand (Cunliffe, 2009 p.410). However, I believe the approach would have been better suited to the problem if each step was considered in a reflective and reflexive approach. Employing reflexive thinking in problem solution helps cover all the angles of the issue at hand (Alvesson, Hardy, and Harley, 2008 p.482). For instance, considering whether transparent communication was a good idea for the working relationships among the employees helped in solving the problem but did not consider the impact it would have on the morale and productivity of the workers. This resulted in the creation of another problem as some of the employees considered it an opportunity for storytelling and rumor mongering.
Reflecting on my attitude and response to the situation, much as I was not contented with the approach employed, my view on management has changed. I now appreciate management as dynamic and demanding. My view on the applicability of the theories learned in class has widened, and I no longer believe that problems can only be solved through set procedures and practices but can be handled depending on the circumstances and applicability of the theories. However, I still believe that an understanding of the management theories enhances the ability of a manager to handle problems in management. As such, I was able to understand that learning theory and reflexive practice applied to my experience and would have offered better results. However, my reflections are limited to the two approaches as other theories such as practice theory and capital theory seemed more suited to different problems and circumstances.
Alvesson, M., Hardy, C. and Harley, B., 2008. Reflecting on reflexivity: Reflexive textual practices in organization and management theory. Journal of management studies, 45(3), pp.480-501.
Barker, D.J., Lencucha, J. and Anderson, R., 2016. Kolb's learning cycle as a framework for early fieldwork learning. World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin, 72(1), pp.28-34.
Cunliffe, A.L., 2002. Reflexive dialogical practice in management learning. Management learning, 33(1), pp.35-61.
Cunliffe, A.L., 2009. Reflexivity, learning and reflexive practice. The SAGE handbook of management learning, education and development, pp.405-418.
Donaldson, L., 1990. The ethereal hand: Organizational economics and management theory. Academy of management Review, 15(3), pp.369-381.
Fox, S., 1997. Situated learning theory versus traditional cognitive learning theory: Why management education should not ignore management learning. Systems practice, 10(6), pp.727-747.
Hibbert, P. and Cunliffe, A., 2015. Responsible management: Engaging moral reflexive practice through threshold concepts. Journal of business ethics, 127(1), pp.177-188.
Kolb, A.Y. and Kolb, D.A., 2009. Experiential learning theory: A dynamic, holistic approach to management learning, education and development. The SAGE handbook of management learning, education and development, pp.42-68.
McCarthy, M., 2016. Experiential learning theory: From theory to practice. Journal of Business & Economics Research (Online), 14(3), p.91.
Rana, S. ed., 2018. Covering the Gap between Theories and Practices in Business and Management (68-76).
Stein, M., 2018. Theories of experiential learning and the unconscious. In Experiential learning in organizations (pp. 19-36). Routledge.
Wallace, D., 2019. Parts of the Whole: Theories of Pedagogy and Kolb's Learning Cycle. Numeracy, 12(1), p.17.
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