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Managing the “Heart” of a Firm – Part 2
Part 2 – In continuing our previous discussion of Managing the “Heart” of a Firm , we look at the last seven points
- Centralisation or decentralization:
Whereas centralization seeks to achieve absolute authority at the top level, decentralization seeks to increase the role of the subordinate in the firm’s decision making. Of course, depending on the size of the firm either would be commendable. In an efficient system, both should have an arena depending on what decision is to be made. Where a firm is running under absolute centralization or absolute decentralization, chances are high that it may be difficult to come up with objective decisions. Whereas the former may be deemed as autocracy when taken to the extreme, the other may lead to anarchy. Centralization or decentralization ought to be implied in a firm’s organization culture, so that employees clearly know the demarcation between the decisions they can make on behalf of the firm and those that management purely reserves the right to make, to avoid wrongful acts.
- Scalar chain:
This refers to the number of levels on the hierarchy from ultimate authority to the lowest level. Given that most firms have relatively few employees, the hierarchy at most would have two levels before one consults the ultimate authority. It is however noteworthy that the longer this chain is, the slower will be the process of decision making and positive change (where needful). This does not pose as a principle challenging to keep in most firms by the virtue of the fact that most quantity surveying firms are small.
This principle seek to address both social and material order. Whereas social order ensures that the firm gets the most suitable person for the specific job, material order ensures safe, appropriate and specific use and placement of resources minimizing risk of waste and loss. To achieve material order, a firm should have systems and procedures in place for use and management of these resources and train staff on their use and significance. Social order is achieved through the management process of organization and selection. A firm should ensure that for any job, it should seek to secure the most suitable person during staffing and selection.
In the operations of a firm, the requisite balance of kindness, fairness and justice must be achieved. Employees must be treated equitably and with kindness if they would be required to render loyalty to their work. There should be impartiality and indiscrimination regardless of age, sex, religion and relation.
It is however important to acknowledge that at times employees may require some level of “force and harshness… for the sake of equity” as Fayol would put it. The level of devotion and commitment varies in a normal situation from employee to the next. Where due diligence is wanting, and all necessary provisions have been made to ensure successful execution of mandate, employers may feel obliged to prevail over such employees in order to realize the required or expected level of performance. This however must be done within the provisions and the spirit of the employment contract, code of ethics and other applicable standards and laws set to protect employees.
- Stability of tenure:
This refers to the period of service in any job. Fayol notes that it is not a positive aspect that employees move frequently from one job to another. Similarly, he acknowledges that job security is a high motivator to employees. A high rate of employee turnover in a firm tells against any firm and its reputation as well. Any person will feel safe to know that they are part of a team with members who have worked with the firm for a considerable period of time. They feel less threatened as they serve and will always hope for a better future, when at the onset things are not favourable. This is motivated by the fact that their fellow employees who started off just the same way and went through the phases of the learning curve, are still serving the firm. Hence, they are well motivated to pledge their loyalty, increasing their productivity and benefiting the firm.
This principle acknowledges that the management should provide opportunity to its employees to suggest ideas, experiences and new method of work. Today, this has been defined as “intrapreneurship”. This practise of management communicates that the employer trusts the employees and values their opinions as well. While it helps develop confidence and loyalty within the employees, if the initiative is innovative and beneficial, it leads to the augmentation of a firm’s profit, as compared to if innovation was not allowed. However, to sustain energy and zeal of the ambitious, innovative employee, the firm should encourage them through money or non – money incentives.
- Esprit de Corps:
This refers to team spirit, as would typically be expressed by members of a work group, inspiring them to work harder hence delivering more. To instil team spirit, Fayol advocates that employers should guard against instituting competing teams as this may work adversity and hence decrease their motivation to work in the long run, especially on the side of the “losing team”. To enhance team spirit, employees should be encouraged to develop reasonable informal relationships amongst themselves. They should be motivated through team building activities and events and above all, they should be rewarded for good performance. Those who do not achieve expected performance, should as well be given a chance to improve by being allocated duties and being empowered through trainings, a way of motivating them to still participate in their respective teams.
To effectively manage people, who at the beginning we identified as the heart of the organization all these principles should be upheld. For when employees are not managed appropriately, then performance is affected, affecting the general performance of the firm. This then makes us to correctly conclude that the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.
This article was first published on the The Quantity
Surveyor Magazine, the official journal of the
Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya.
It was written by Seraphine Okemwa,
one of our key staff team, in the
second quarter of 2017.