Back in the days of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of automation, “managing” meant “getting product out.” Nameless workers stood side by side on assembly lines and in factories, going through the same movements hour after hour, day after day. As mechanization became more sophisticated, managers started paying attention to factors like efficiency. Not only did workers have to do the same thing over and over, they had to do it within specific parameters. If for any reason workers couldn't do the work, they were gone. Job satisfaction? Not even a dream! Managing, from the manager's perspective, was simple.
Then along came laws bringing protections for workers. If managers wanted employees on the job more than forty hours a week, they had to pay extra. Other changes filtered into the workplace, too, as social circumstances evolved. Women and minority groups entered the workforce. Their demands for equity — equal pay, equal rights, and equal opportunities — gave rise to numerous acts of legislation that established standards of practice for affirmative action, worker safety and health, and equitable pay and benefits.
Today, government — federal, state, and local — regulates many dimensions of the American workplace. Labor and employment laws and regulations are so complex they have become specialty areas within the legal profession, and most large companies have their own legal departments to help them remain in compliance. Ignorance of the law carries the risk of lawsuits, not only from employees but also from the communities within which these companies operate. Managing has become very complicated.
Survival and success as a manager in today's business world requires far more than setting productivity goals and enforcing them with ultimatums. People bring different work styles to the job; managers must understand and integrate them to meet department and company objectives. Company goals still require that employees work at their highest level of productivity, but companies also realize that reaching and maintaining such a level also requires attention to employee needs and interests. Employees need creature comforts, vacations, and opportunities for personal growth and career advancement.
No one craves the “good old days,” when the primary tool for measuring job performance was a stopwatch. To those days, most of us are quick to say good riddance. But we do often lament the complexities of today's business environment. It's no longer good enough to excel in your field or profession when you want to be a manager. You must also acquire skills and expertise in the philosophies and practices of management. You may not need an MBA, but you do need to know how to conduct performance evaluations, apply government regulations to the functions of your department and company, and motivate employees to work together as a team.
Whether you're a middle manager in a megacorporation or the do-it-all manager in a small company, you must continually balance the needs of the company and the needs of employees. This book offers you key information and real-world suggestions, along with lots of examples. Managing is an exciting opportunity to shape and improve the professional lives of other people, the success of your company, and the path of your own career.
Please note that the examples and stories in this book are composites created from the shared experiences of numerous people. All names, circumstances, and details have been altered. Any resemblance to real people or situations is purely coincidental.