Work & its Organisation > Work in Organizations QH2 > Methods for Managing Work Situations

Methods for Managing Work Situations

Methods are Independent of Level

There are methods for managing work situations that are widely used and easily recognizable. These methods (or approaches) are THEE types and, as will become apparent, generate levels of work-responsibility in a formally structured organization.
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Because the work-responsibility in focus in this QH2-framework is about controlling activities and decisions to generate tangible achievements in a dynamic environment, this Qt2-typology is labeled as distinctive methods for managing.

Reminder: «Methods for managing» is a shorthand. Managing here means handling an entire work situation or state of affairs i.e. tasks, people, equipment, breakdowns, training, social pressures &c.—anything that may be relevant to stability and achievement. See more.

Recognizing the various methods for managing helps us understand why senior executives often appear to function like those at lower levels, and vice versa. Any method can be applied appropriately at any level in an organization.

The various methods for managing within a project, organization or firm, are potentially available to anyone. They do not appear to be about personal capability but rather tap into mindsets and inclinations.

ClosedClick for Table showing the use of language correspondence to QH2-approaches.

Introducing the Methods

The 7 methods for managing are:

Specifying Outputs (QH2-t1)

This is the most fundamental method because it indicates the expectations of work. The focus of managing is therefore on results and, by extension, on accountability for results because there is no point in specifying outputs if there are no consequences.

The only person who can assert such requirements and make them stick is a customer or a boss. There is always a minimum output that can be regarded as essential. But a higher desired output may exist. It is always hard to know whether these are realistic. In any case, specifications usually take little account of how work-situations might unfold.

Devising Responses (QH2-t2)

When work flows smoothly a hands-off approach to managing is possible. But it is common to encounter unexpected events, disruptions, sudden new demands or crises. The hands-off approach may then turn out to be the opposite of what is required. When urgent handling is mandatory, you have to produce a resolution of some sort despite obstacles and even deliberate obstruction.

For technical and professional work, the person often acts like a consultant called in as required, or as a supervisor who is a reassuring presence until special attention is required. Troubleshooters, by contrast, enter the system or service from outside.

Introducing Methods (QH2-t3)

When there are many specialized activities or many factors, then managing can focus on providing arrangements that take these into account in a systematic way. This may provide for smooth effective sailing, but it is primarily about getting efficiency and compliance. Formalized procedures, well-established methods and software tools not only facilitate work but also help avoid mistakes and irritating interactions.

The focus here is on identifying, analysing and structuring repetitive work processes to allow for their orderly use. So the manager is perceived as an organizer and a controller. Methods may be experienced as bureaucratic because they involve general rules and take little account of the exigencies of the moment. This can be overcome in part by continual monitoring and updating.

Implementing Programs (QH2-t4)

Implementing programs is a method that delivers unequivocal progress. It involves acceptance that a specific outcome can and should be delivered by a certain time, and then planning and organising people, tasks/activities and necessary resources to do just that.

The manager here is a project leader who emphasizes the proper use of resources including time, and depends heavily on information. Information is required to develop the program, to manage the resources, to monitor progress, to confirm the results and to evaluate.

Shaping Evolution (QH2-t5)

Managing is about intervening in situations, and that is tricky because they have their own life. Shaping builds on existing efforts and momentum by adjusting various factors so that activities naturally move towards a desired goal. This method notes the many strands of activity in situations. It focuses on psychological and social forces, interactions and influences, and the need to maintain integration and avoid dislocation.

Where shaping is sophisticated and at a senior level, the manager is perceived as a strategist. At lower levels, the manager appears pragmatic and canny, able to get the best out of people and situations as they are at any point in time.

Imposing Guidance (QH2-t6)

The method, sometimes called management by objectives, is about providing clarity in regard to values and goals that relate directly to the work being undertaken. Expedience and events can knock work off course rather easily and people need knowledge of what is important and of the main overall outcomes to be delivered.

This is leadership work and although guidance is imposed, that is based on the expectation that others will follow. Without full engagement, the given values and objectives will not inform handling of other situations (often using other methods).

Setting Parameters (QH2-t7)

Managing can be effective by specifying the boundaries of choices so as to provide unifying reference points for everyone involved. The method here defines mandates, sets terms of reference, determines key values and needs, essential limits and rules. Ethical standards may be relevant.

The method trusts in the creativity of the workers to make the most of the freedom on offer in the assignment. The parameters unify a group and help ensure coherence in their efforts. Although only a leader can set parameters, full confidence that others will accept and succeed with the assignment cannot be taken for granted.

The Dichotomy

It is likely that the conventional reference (by academics usually) to «decision-makers» and «policy-makers» in organizations and government refers to a division of these 7 methods for managing at work.

Originally posted: 27-Nov-2013

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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