The importance of managers

If I were to ask what you consider are the most important occupations in our society; your answer may be police, doctors, paramedics, nurses, teachers, etc. There is no question that the suggested roles are important but have you considered managers? I can sense the stunned silence but managers in fact play a key role in our society and are crucial to drive our country’s long-term change and prosperity. The important jobs mentioned above are generally all managed by someone and skilled people are needed to ensure our companies and social organisations serve us effectively as well as making the best use of resources and talent.

Society is changing in many ways including lifestyle, religion and meaning of life. There is a noticeable increase in employees ‘job hopping’, looking for that elusive ‘dream job’ and there appears to be a general dissatisfaction overall. It is important that managers recognise this to increase employee retention, job satisfaction and reduce absenteeism. Happy employees who feel that the company values their contribution are more likely to be loyal and more productive which reflects in the organisations success. The point I am making is that managers must provide the environment for the policemen, doctors, nurses and teachers of our society to perform at their best and for the country as a whole to be more competitive. These factors in itself can have a huge bearing on our living standards and whether we can be considered a modern and progressive society.

Fortunately, our government recognises the importance of managers in our society but also understood that management techniques have been slow to change from the old paradigm or ‘classical management’ to a new paradigm of ‘human resources management’. In 1995 the government undertook an extensive audit of our management skills in the form of the ‘Karpin Report’ and the recommendations made back then are still relevant to the welfare and employment opportunities of all Australians today and well into the future. The following table illustrates some of the changes required to management as identified by the Karpin Taskforce.

Karpin’s report highlighted the importance of managers in society and that better managers lead to workplace reform, nationally and internationally competitive enterprises, positive culture and improved employment and living standards. The report further identifies that Australian managers are currently highly developed in functional skills but still needed improvement in entrepreneurship, thinking globally and the ‘soft skills’, or human resources management. Given our new understanding of the importance of managers in our lives, how do we ensure our managers are of the highest quality? Leadership is such a crucial quality and research suggest that there is much room for improvement. The factors and traits which drive a manager to the top of their organisation can in fact make them terrible leaders, and some management educators claim that management education generally does a poor job with leadership development.

Well managed organisations generally grow and prosper which has a positive impact on employees, not just in the workplace but also in their private lives. We all remember the great managers we have had and how work was so much more enjoyable. That’s what good bosses do, they recognise and develop talent, encourage, motivate, counsel, mentor and inspire. They help you to be the best you can.

Tony Grima

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