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Managing Human Relations

According to the classical writers thought the main emphasis goes on the planning of the work, the technical requirements of the organisation, principles of management and the assumption of rational and logical behaviour. A clear understanding of the purpose of an organisation is seen as essential to recognise how the company works and how its methods of working can be improved. Identification of general objectives would lead to the clarification of responsibilities and purposes at all levels of the organisation.

Many of the classical writers were concerned with the improvement of management structure as a mean of increasing productivity. Comparing the Classical writers thought with the actual management structure at Aussieco will prove the unstable and badly structured companys position. Aussieco is an Australian company established in1962. The owner has been able to retain full control and ownership, acting as chairman and chief executive officer since the foundation of the business. Although he makes most final decisions, he is not involved with the daily running of the company.

The executive managing director is the owners nephew. He is a neo-graduate with no industrial experience, completely unsuitable to cover this position. The key person of the organisation is the general manager. His role consists of organising and supervising five subordinate sectors: administration, programming, production, design and development and sales and service. The production manager is the busiest figure of the company, although the lowest paid. The production supervisor has a little knowledge of the day-to-day tasks of his subordinates.

Personnel management is incompetent and unable to hire the right staff. Personnel managers negligence brought the company to deal with a secretary for the drawing office who had never seen drawing before; a programmer with no experience of working with the program used in production and several others problems. The picture described above underlines the bad situation the company is facing. Emphasis on purpose, formal structure, hierarchy of management are far away from being properly defined. Moreover, clarification of managers responsibilities is very confusing. Human Relations Theory

The main emphasis of the classical writers was based on structure and formal organisation. During 1920s, years of great depression, larger attention began to be paid to the social factor and to the employees behaviour within the organisation rather than the organisation structure itself. This is what the human relation theory is about. Human relation at Aussieco is a big issue. The ideas concerning the importance of work groups, communications, motivation and job design are totally missing. Staff finds little to be proud of in belonging to the company. The all process is driven by fear.

The lack of communication is so high that employees are afraid to say or do something scared of loosing their job. Workshops, the heart of the company, are unsafe and unhealthy places to work in. They are open, with no doors, cluttered and filthy. The tin roofs are without insulation and leak during heavy rains; buckets must be strategically placed to catch the water. Management is not concerned at all about employees morale, the only worries are the operation and maintenance of the machines. Promotions and bonuses are two words not very familiar at the company. The organisation appears reluctant to promote its own staff.

Bonuses are sometimes paid at Christmas, depending on the profitability and the whim of the owner. Human relation writers demonstrated that people go to work to satisfy a complexity of needs and not simply for monetary reward. The verb run is very often used in the case study to emphasise the employees desire to run away from the company as soon as they can. Figure 1-Approaches to organisation and management People management problem and management style People management at Aussieco was poor and incompetent. The lack of guidance, motivation, communication and group activities have brought the company being declared bankrupt.

Beyond the money, people expect more out of their work. They wish to contribute, to see that their contribution is making a difference. Employees are willing to learn, to grow and mainly they want to feel that they are part of a successful enterprise. Workers deserve to know why they are doing something, they need input and accessibility to their managers. The expression management style has a particular meaning in employee relations. Style is used in a global way to refer to management overall approach to handling the relationship between the organisation and its employees.

A basic scheme of management styles was devised by Alan Fox , who drew a fundamental distinction between two contrasting management frames of reference: unitarist and pluralist. Managers with a unitarist frame of reference make the assumption that an organisation is basically integrated and harmonious whole. At heart all organisational members, both management and employees, are seen to have a common purpose: the success of the company. Conversely, with pluralist managers the organisation is assumed to consist of a number of competing groups, all of whom have different interest to pursue.

As such, there is always some potential for conflict. A more recent and rather different method of describing styles is the one developed by John Purcell (1987). He points out that style in employee relations can be much more a matter of strategy and policy. Therefore, management can focus on either one or both of two different aspects of the relationship between an organisation and its employees. These are quite different dimensions of the relationship, and each one can be thought of as a continuum along which there is a range of behavioural options. (Figure 2)

Figure 2-Purcell’s scheme for mapping management style The individual dimension, at one end, is concerned with the extent to which employees and individuals are regarded as important within the organisation and, at the other extreme, there are firms who are said to adopt a labour control focus. Employees tend to be viewed simply as one of the overhead costs of the business. In the middle of the continuum is what Purcell calls paternalist focus. Although there is a little emphasis on employee development and career progression, these firms have a strong sense of social responsibility and caring towards individuals.

The collectivist dimension describes the extent to which an organisation adopts the idea that employees should be involved in decisions that affect them. At the end of the continuum are firms with an unitarist focus, where the word is used very much the same way as in Foxs scheme. At the other end are firms with a co-operative focus, which involves very strong attempts to build constructing working relationship with collective organisations of employees, and to involve them in a wide range of decisions. In the middle are firms who are said to have adversarial focus.

It emphasises managerial prerogatives and strict attention is paid to agreements and procedures. The individual dimension, focused on employee development, is the line that the new management should follow in order to get the best results. Managers should strongly emphasise the importance of each employee as organisational resource. The fact that many people voluntary work unpaid overtime at Intech when a job needs completion or a new project is at a crucial stage is determined by the fact that beyond the money people wish to contribute. Therefore encouragement and help must be involved in the new organisation.

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