HOW is the manager’s job changing?

In today’s world, managers are dealing with global economic and politi�cal uncertainties, changing workplaces, ethical issues, security threats, and changing technology. For example, Dave Maney, the top manager of Headwaters MB, a Denver-based investment bank, had to fashion a new plan during the recession. When the company’s board of directors gave senior management complete freedom to ensure the company’s survival, they made a bold mov. We want to focus on six of these changes: customers, technology, social media, innovation, sustainability, and the employee.

Focus on the Customer

Managers are recognizing that delivering consistent, high-quality customer service is essential for survival and success in today’s competitive environment. Good cus�tomer care pays ož. A recent study found that nearly all customers (92%) whose issue was resolved during rst contact with customer service would likely continue using the company.43 That number drops to about half (51%) for customers whose issue was not resolved during rst contact. Employees are an important part of that equation.44 The implication is clear: managers must create a customer-responsive organization where employees are friendly and courteous, accessible, knowledgeable, prompt in respond�ing to customer needs, and willing to do what’s necessary to please the customer.45 We’ll look at customer service management in other chapters.

Focus on Technology

Managers increasingly face challenges in their work because technology has been changing how things get done. Cloud computing, social media, and robotics are ex�amples of technology. Getting employees on board presents a challenge to many man�agers. Managers must work with employees to understand why new technology is an improvement over present ways of conducting business. According to Didier Bonnet, coauthor of Leading Challenge, “The job of a manager is to help people cross the bridge—to get them comfortable with the technology, to get them using it, and to help them understand how it makes their lives bette.

It is a myth that social skills have become less important because there is more tech�nology in the workplace. Take robotic technology. Software programming can systemize human decision making and physical tasks, which can be carried out by machinery. How�ever, technological advances have fallen short of replicating human interactions and tech�nology falls short of substituting human judgment. Particularly in team settings, workers rely on each other’s expertise, and they are able to adapt to changing circumstances than is made possible by software.47 As a result, managers are continually challenged to over�see team building and problem solving. Management expert Henry Mintzberg, however, warns that “wonderful as they are in enhancing communication, [technological devices] can have a negative ežect on collaboration unless they are carefully managed. An elec�tronic device puts us in touch with a keyboard, that’s all.”48 Therein lies a signicant chal�lenge for managers. Social media technology adds further challenges to the mix..

Focus on Social Media

You probably can’t imagine a time when employees did their work without smart de�vices, e-mail, or Internet access. Yet, some 25 years ago, as these tools were becoming more common in workplaces, managers struggled with the challenges of providing guidelines for using the Internet and e-mail in their organizations. Today, the new fron�tier is social media, forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share ideas, information, personal messages, and other content. And employees don’t just use these on their personal time, but also for work purposes. That’s why managers need to understand and manage the power and peril of social me�dia. For instance, at grocery chain SuperValu, managers realized that keeping 135,000- plus employees connected and engaged was imperative to continued success.49 They decided to adopt an internal social media tool to foster cooperation and collaboration among the 10 distinct store brands operating in 44 states. And they’re not alone. More and more businesses are turning to social media as a way to connect with customers. Increasingly, many companies encourage employees to use social media to become em�ployee activists. For this purpose, employee activists draw visibility to their workplace, defend their employers from criticism, and serve as advocates, both online.

But the potential peril is in how it’s used. CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buf�fet, has said that, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and ve minutes to ruin it.”51 In�ternally, social media also becomes problematic when it becomes a way for boastful em�ployees to brag about their accomplishments, for managers to publish one-way messages to employees, or for employees to argue or gripe about something or someone they don’t like at work—then it has lost its usefulness. To avoid this, managers need to remember that social media is a tool that needs to be managed to be benecial. At SuperValu, about 9,000 store managers and assistant managers use the social media system. Although sources say it’s too early to draw any conclusions, it appears that managers who actively make use of the system are having better store sales revenues than those who don’t. In the remainder of the book, we’ll look at how social media is impacting how managers manage, especially in the areas of human resource management, commu�nication, teams, and strategy. For example, a particular question is whether human resource managers should use social media to screen potential employees.

Focus on Innovation

Success in business today demands innovation. Innovation means exploring new terri�tory, taking risks, and doing things dižerently. And innovation isn’t just for high-tech or other technologically sophisticated organizations. Innovative ežorts can be found in all types of organizations. For instance, the manager of the Best Buy store in Manchester, Connecticut, clearly understood the importance of being innovative, a task made par�ticularly challenging because the average Best Buy store is often stažed by young adults in their rst or second jobs who aren’t always committed long term to a retail career. Yet, the increasingly sophisticated products carried by the store required a high level of em�ployee training. The store manager tackled this challenge by getting employees to sug�gest new ideas. One idea—a “team close,” in which employees scheduled to work at the store’s closing time closed the store together and walked out together as a team—had a remarkable impact on employee attitudes and commitment.53 As you’ll see throughout the book, innovation is critical throughout all levels and parts of an organization. It’s so critical to today’s organizations and managers that we also address this topic in other chapters.

Focus on Sustainability

Microsoft Corporation generated $93.6 billion in software sales and $12.1 billion in prots, and it had a workforce of 118,000 in 2015. We all know Microsoft for its develop ment and sales of software such as Windows, Skype, and Xbox Live. And Microsoft is probably the last company that you’d think about in a section describing sustainability. However, Microsoft invests in a variety of sustainability projects. Management funds these projects through taxes levied on its business units’ energy consumption that contributes to environmentally unfriendly carbon emissions. The responsibility for sav�ings falls on division managers. Microsoft’s ežorts have paid.

What’s emerging in the twenty-rst century is the concept of managing in a sustainable way, which has had the ežect of widening corporate responsibility not only to managing in an e‚cient and ežective way, but also to responding strategically to a wide range of environ�mental and societal challenges.56 Although “sustainability” means dižerent things to dižer�ent people, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development describes a situation where all the earth’s inhabitants can live well with adequate resources.57 From a business perspective, sustainability has been described as a company’s ability to achieve its business goals and increase long-term shareholder value by integrating economic, environmental, and social opportunities into its business strategies.58 Sustainability issues are now moving up the agenda of business leaders and the boards of thousands of companies. We’ll exam�ine sustainability and its importance to managers in other places throughout the book.

Focus on the Employee

Successful managers regularly provide performance feedback that serves as an evaluation of an employee’s performance and provides the foundation for discuss�ing developmental opportunities. Ežective performance appraisal outcomes depend on clearly communicating performance expectations and the resources available to help employees perform well and providing feedback on how well expectations were met. Also, conversations about an employee’s career aspirations in the context of past performance serve a developmental role that will motivate workers to strive for excel�lence. When performance appraisal works in these ways, the company stands to build a strong talent base. Developmental practices also can support a structure on which to base rewards. Ežective managers strive to reward employees with competitive base wages or salary and pay raises that recognize past performance and future potential.

Successful managers often embrace work-life practices and provide encouragement to employees who wish to use them. Such behavior expresses the value the manager and company leadership place on the well-being of employees. The company stands to benet through higher employee satisfaction, talent retention, and higher employee engagement.6

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