This article throws light upon the top eight attributes of management style that represent excellent companies. The attributes are: 1. A Bias for Action 2. Stay Close to the Customer 3. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship 4. Productivity through People 5. Hands on, Value Driven 6. Stick to the Knitting 7. Simple Form, Lean Staff 8. Simultaneous Loose-Tight Properties.
Attribute # 1. A Bias for Action:
Action rather than thinking, analysing, rethinking, forming committees, etc. is the hallmark of successful companies. Managers should put their ideas in action and wait for results rather than following the policy of ‘wait and watch.’ Action-oriented firms perform better than those where actions are delayed.
The drive for action comes from top managers. Action requires dividing the work into smaller units, assigning responsibility and authority, developing tasks forces, team work, quality circles and total quality management. The operating procedure that promotes bias for action is “Do it, fix it, try it.”
Attribute # 2. Stay Close to the Customer:
Customers are important for firms. All products, services, strategies and plans are directed towards satisfaction of consumer needs. Best designed products will not earn profits if they are not acceptable to consumers. Business houses therefore, anticipate consumer demand and produce accordingly.
Once the products are sold, they get feedback on their response to product quality. Improvements and innovations depend upon consumers’ needs. Excellent companies provide value for the product. Consumers value a product that is best in terms of physical features (colour, design, packaging), price, promotion (advertisement, sales promotion) and channel of distribution. Companies that remain in touch with consumers, provide them best quality products are excellent and innovative companies. They believe, “If we keep our customers happy, they will keep us in business.”
Attribute # 3. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship:
Autonomy is the power to think and act independently and entrepreneurship is the ability to create and implement ideas. Successful and excellent companies allow their managers and workers to act and think independently, create new ideas, think of better ways of doing the work, take risky ventures and put them into action.
They believe in learning by mistakes. Autonomy and entrepreneurship help to achieve results though integration of formal and informal organisation, monetary and non-monetary incentives, task-oriented and people oriented leadership styles and formal and informal communication channels. “Allow its members to think and act independently” leads to excellence of companies.
Attribute # 4. Productivity through People:
People are not mere resources of business. They are the active agents who convert the resources into productive outputs. Excellent companies consider people as their most valuable asset. They believe that people bring success to organisation and their contribution to organisational goals leads to higher managerial efficiency. Successful organisations exploit their potential and extract the best out of them.
How well a company is managed determines how well it is able to achieve its objectives. Management theories and leadership styles have proved that people-oriented styles produce better results than task- oriented ones. People who achieve targets should be rewarded and those who do not should be promoted to achieve them.
Attribute # 5. Hands on, Value Driven:
“The basic philosophy of an organisation has far more to do with its achievements than do technological or economic resources, organisational structure, innovation and tuning.” Top executives must remain in touch with business to ensure its success.
Personal contact is more important for managerial excellence than the organisation structure and resources. Companies’ whose top executives visit the plant stores and assess them on the basis of four important variables; quality, service, cleanliness and value (QSCV) are better managed than those where executives are not in regular touch with their stores and operating levels.
Attribute # 6. Stick to the Knitting:
It means that company should remain in the business it knows the best. Though diversifying into new product is a form of growth, companies diversify in those lines of business that they know the best. Entering into product lines that companies have no knowledge about is inviting losses. Excellent performance is shown by companies that stay closest to the business they know.
Attribute # 7. Simple Form, Lean Staff:
Matrix organisation structures are complex and generally create more confusion than solve. Most successful and excellent companies have simple organisation structure. Greater the complexity in organisation structures, greater is the complexity in understanding those structures.
Large size of organisation does not necessitate large number of staff also. Large number of people will increase hierarchical levels, complicate authority responsibility relationships and distort communication channels.
Companies should work with desired number of people to carry its operations. Large size of work force does not necessarily mean effective business organisations. It is not rare to find some excellent companies with simple organisation structures and lean staff.
Attribute # 8. Simultaneous Loose-Tight Properties:
Autonomy is an important attribute of excellent companies. Autonomy or decentralisation cannot be allowed for important strategic decisions. An excellent organisation, therefore, should combine the features of centralisation and decentralisation.
All important and strategic decisions should be centralised and routine decisions should be decentralised at the operating levels. All employees should work within their areas of discretion but show complete dedication towards central values of the company.
Though these attributes indicate managerial excellence, they are criticised on the ground that they ignore the impact of environmental changes, national policies, technological changes etc. Besides, they vary over a period of time. A company which is excellent in one year may not be so the next year.
Nevertheless, these attributes provide useful guidelines to improve the performance of companies and move towards excellence. Companies following these guidelines have done well and are, therefore, exemplary for managers who seek to achieve excellence in their companies.