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Research Paper: Identifying Key Concepts in Business and Management
Introduction
Key concepts in business are important for the growth of any entity. This is because such concepts determine the direction in which the business is governed, and hence, they determine the success or failure of any business. By understanding the key concepts applied in the business environment, managers are able to avoid errors that may arise in business operations such as poor financial management. The purpose of this paper is to explore different concepts used in key areas of business operations. The key areas include dynamic business environment, critical business functions, the integration of individuals and systems, and ethics and social responsibilities that confront a business.

Dynamic business environment
In our text, Boone & Kurtz (2010) defined business management as the process of managing an organization by applying various business concepts on the set objectives. For the objectives to be met there must be stable functions of the organization such as good planning, organizing, coordination, and directing. These functions can be achieved through well co-ordinated management team. Therefore, good business management results into smooth flow of business activities. In a business set up, various dynamic business environments may affect the performance of the firm negatively or positively.

One of the key concepts in the area of dynamic business environment is economic changes. Economic changes refer to changing trends of general performance in an economy. Economic changes comprise of economic boom and recession. Economic boom has a positive effect on the business environment because businesses generate supernormal profits. Economic recession has a negative effect on business environment because it results into a slowdown in demand and thus a reduction in production. Firms and businesses wind up during economic cycle.

Another concept in the area of dynamic business environment is market conditions. Market conditions refer to the extent of demand and supply of goods and services in the market. Demand and supply are the main determinants of prices of goods and services. The presence of many competitions in the market results into a reduction in prices of goods and services. To beat this odd, Beaumont (2003) noted that a firm must differentiate its products by producing goods and providing services of high quality and standards as well as developing good relationships with the customers. Boone and Kurtz (2010) observed that maintaining good customer relations increases the sales revenue generated by the firm even when market conditions are unfavourable.

The other concept in the area of dynamic business environment is changes in government policies and regulations. Governments change regulations and business policies to regulate business activities. Such regulations may include high taxes imposed on businesses, changes in business registration requirements and policies for reduction in carbon emissions. Failure to observe these changes in government policies may lead to increased conflicts between the government and the firms thus destabilising business operations.

Critical business functions
An organization is divided into operation units that perform different functions. Such functions include human resource, sales and marketing, information technology, production or operation, research and development, finance and accounting and customer service. These functions are undertaken in different levels of management in the organization. These functions are interconnected in different ways. For example, the human resource trains people to work in customer service. The quality of customer service affects the sales generated by the firm. Research and development, generates new methods of production and operation. Information technology affects the extent to which the sales and marketing teams reach the customers in the market. The accounting and finance departments must work to ensure that the human resource receive their salaries in time as a way of motivating the human resource to perform their duties with dedication. In this regard, the concepts above are intertwined and they generate a positive effect in the long run if the management does not create barriers between the departments represented by the functions above.

Integration of individuals and systems
Boone and Kurtz (2010) noted that a smooth flow of activities can be achieved in the organization through proper co-ordination between the workers and the organizational management. The three types of communication flow that must be taken into consideration to enhance better business management include; (a) upward communication; (b) Horizontal flow of communication and (c) downward communication flow. Upward communications refer to communication between subordinates and managers. Managers should create a free and fair environment that allows them to welcome any worker with an issue.

Upward communication enhances the relationship between the managers and the workers which make the workers feel as part and parcel of the firm. Horizontal communications refer to positive relations between people of the same level. This means that departmental managers should develop positive relations in order to increase the connection of service delivery between the departments. This will allow effective information flow between the departments. In downward communication, messages and information flow from the managers to subordinates.

Effective and timely delivery of information from the manager to the subordinates enhances the time within which activities are undertaken in the firm. A delay in the flow of information from the manager delays every other activity being undertaken in the firm. Therefore, all persons from the manager to the subordinates must work together to achieve the desired objectives.

Ethical and social responsibilities that confront a business
Ethical responsibilities refer to the acceptable code of conducts that guide the behaviour of people in the organization. Ethical responsibilities may be determined by the government, customers, competitors and the business environment at large (Weybrecht, 2010). For example, courtesy in dealing with customers may be an important consideration in beating competitors. The dressing code may be determined by the government to enhance smartness during service delivery both in private and public held institutions.

Social responsibility refers to the society’s requirements towards the firm. For example, producing high quality products and selling the products at an affordable price is a social responsibility (Weybrecht, 2010). Additionally, adopting green production methods to reduce emission of green house gases is another social responsibility. Providing a safe and healthy working environment is another example of social responsibility.

Treating customers with courtesy and paying the pending debts in time is another important concept in the area of social responsibilities that confront a business. Positive behaviour concept in the organization includes relating with other people positively and following proper channels of dispute resolution. It also involves dressing smartly in the office in order to gain respect particularly from the customers. Ethical and social responsibilities are important considerations in the organization without which the business may not yield the desired objectives.

Conclusion
In the above sections, different areas that touch sufficiently on operations in the firm have been discussed. They include dynamic business environment where concepts such as economic changes, market conditions and changes in business regulations and policies. The other area discussed is critical business functions where concepts such as human resource, sales and marketing, finance and accounting, production or operation, information technology, research and development as well as customer service have been discussed. The area of integration of individuals and systems has also been discussed.

The concepts discussed here include upward communication, horizontal communication and, downward communication. All these make up the flow of communication in the organization. Further, the area of ethical and social responsibilities has been discussed. Among the concepts explored in this area include the responsibility of the firm towards the society in terms of employment, reduction in pollution of the environment and payment of better salaries and wages to the workers. Other concepts discussed in this area include proper dressing codes, handling of customers with care and using courteous language under the area of ethical responsibilities that confront the business. For any company to succeed, all these concepts must be taken into consideration because they may affect the business positively or negatively.

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Introduction to Management Report

Introduction to Management - REPORT

Introduction:

In large organisations, management represents the key factor that propels businesses and industries to attain growth and development. The rise of modern organisations is not only due to the rapid advancements in technology and communications but on the ability of competent managers to struggle and confront emerging challenges to the organisation’s very existence.

There are a variety of views about management. Practically, the term management refers to planning, organizing, leading, and controlling of organisational activities and their resources (McNamara). Planning involves identifying goals, objectives, methods, resources, and responsibilities and dates for the completion of tasks. Planning and organizing human resources can be quite a challenge given the complex structure of today’s organisations. Establishing the strategic direction and vision for the organisation involves influencing people to follow that direction and share the same vision. Management is also about controlling the human resource processes, the human resource systems, and the human resource structure of the organisation in order to make it more adaptable to change in its internal and external environment.

This report will try to make an analysis of the existing organisational culture, structure, and management style of Harvester Restaurant. It is presented with adequate emphasis on how management, when confronted with a new reality, was able to identify its weaknesses in its management structure, style, and existing culture and the corresponding remedies and management initiatives through empowerment and other changes in the style and structure of their management.

Harvester Restaurant is a wholly owned brand within the Forte Restaurants Division and was recently purchased by the Bass Group (Ashness and Lashley, p. 18). By 1995, it had 78 chains of restaurants around the United Kingdom. Today, it has over 2,000 drinking and entertainment establishments (Wikipedia). Its previous management setup was thought to be obstructing the way its employees commit themselves to the quality of their service to customers.

Management Structure and Problems

Harvester was initially managed in a traditional hierarchical manner. Each restaurant unit was managed by a restaurant manager and two to three assistant managers. This management team was responsible for the day-to-day running of the unit which includes ordering stocks, maintaining the security of materials and money, cashing up and banking takings, locking premises, staffing and management of all the people within the unit (Ashness and Lashley, 1995). The restaurant unit manager reports directly to a regional manager. Four regional managers are directly accountable to the operations managers (north and south divisions) while the operations managers report to the managing director. This structure produced five layers between the customers and the managing director.

The management team then became aware of the new emerging demands and discerning attitude of customers. At this point, there seems to be a problem with the layers of management. In this structure, decisions are made at the top and passed down through several intermediaries. Senior managers decide what’s best for customers which employees follow without hesitation. But according to studies made, people resist solutions imposed by people who lack familiarity with day-to-day operations (Harvard Business Essentials, 2003). Today’s organisational structures need to have collaboration between willing and motivated parties in order to effect changes. The problem then is that in this structure, senior level managers are better at telling people what to do than at getting employees to collaborate and made significant contributions.

Under this Harvester management setup, a lot of problems emerged. There was low commitment from their employees. The rate of turnover was high. The organisation itself was too dependent on their managers for decisions. Resources and skills were under-utilized (Ashness and Lashley, 1995). Too much attention was given to processes and not on the attentive values. Employees, who are usually the ones in direct contact with customers and who usually hold direct knowledge on the day-to-day operations are usually not listened to. But there are other factors which might have been influencing these happenings. According to Duck (2001), most leaders do not have enough vertical contact with others in the organisation or enough time to stay in touch. She notes that most members of the management team of organisations are not actively using information networks that keep them up-to-date on what’s happening and who’s saying what. While most leaders recognize the value of being connected with people at every level and of getting unfiltered information, very few know how to make it happen without investing more time than they feel they have available. In short, the organisation’s strategy was not consistent with the management of its untapped human and intellectual resources. While it has set up long term goals and mechanisms to satisfy its customers, it has failed to address their immediate needs and concerns.

It is not altogether uncommon for conflict to occur inside the organisation. Conflict occurs when individuals or groups are not obtaining what they need or want. People in organisations bring with them different educational backgrounds, interests, preferences, religious and ethical values, and personalities. Usually, it causes the flow of real communication which results to the identification and resolution of problems. In a hierarchical structure however, there is a greater chance that conflict would occur. The communication process passing through different layers does not always guarantee that the right information flows correctly. Conflict resolution usually hinges around a certain layer of management. The situation at Harvester is no different. There was selective communication going on. Accountability was limited to a few.

The present management setup has instilled a culture not bent on proactively managing the focus on guests. There was a lack of trust and feeling of ownership prevailing at this time. Information was not valued either.

New Management Structure

In planning for change, it is important to identify the dimensions of change. Theory E and Theory O includes the organisational goals, leadership, and focus (Harvard Business Essentials, 2003). Theory E and Theory OChange involves embracing the paradox between economic values and organisational capability. It also encourages setting management directions from the top while encouraging participation from the people below. It also focuses simultaneously on the hard (structures and systems) and the soft (corporate culture). This theory was what had been applied to Harvester’s changes in its management structure, style and culture.

The reorganisation at Harvester Restaurants involved the removal of two layers of management within the entire organisation through a process called delayering (Ashness and Lashley, 1995). At a senior level, the two operations manager posts were removed and three regional teams were created. Each team was based on a regional office which included one training manager, one control manager, and three regional managers who would each be accountable for eight to ten restaurants. In all cases, the teams became autonomous, with a senior member of management taking special interest in each team. The team became the focus of business performance and assessment. Regional teams were allocated budgets and made decisions on how best to use these funds within the team.

In discussing the wider aspects of organisational culture, Handy (1993), suggests that diversity in the organisation puts on what he categorizes as a task culture, with influence based on the expert power. Handy (1993) describes this as a team culture where getting the job done tends to wipe out most status and style differences. At the restaurant level, the team manager and the team coach were no longer managing the staff but were more responsible for encouraging the staff to be more self sufficient and empowered. Each restaurant is organised around three teams which reflect the different operational areas like the bar, the restaurant, and the kitchen. Each team has its own team responsibilities. Johnson and Scholes (1997, p. 35) say that a major challenge for managers is to help develop an organization which is able to simultaneously meet stakeholder expectations while meeting the needs of customers better than competitors within a changing environment. Micro management of the operational areas has helped address immediate customer and restaurant concerns while increasing employees’ awareness to their responsibilities, accountabilities, and total commitment to the organisation’s new set of goals. The creation of these teams has ensured that employees are given the necessary training needed for effective performance. Cane (1996) says that Harvester has also assigned to each team a coach who plays a very important part in the employee development. The task of the coach is to give the support, advise, training, and development necessary to enable the team to fulfill its role as well as put into practice the concept of continuous development. Each coach is carefully selected and trained for his or her work and has continual close support from Harvester’s central training team.

There were short and long term tangible and intangible benefits which were derived from the initiation of changes to the management style, culture, and structure. Turnover has fallen by 19 percent. Wage and administration costs were reduced. There was also a noted low level of customer complaints. Problems were resolved more quickly without resorting to the manager. The cultural context of the organisation was moving to a trust-based culture. Within the limits set, individuals were trusted to do their jobs without constant and close supervision.

The reorganisation has led to improvements in the communications process. Team members liked to know how they were doing. They seemed to take personal interest and pride in the unit’s performance (Ashness and Lashley, 1995). They began to value their contribution to the team.

In terms of conflict resolutions, problems can easily be locally settled and decided immediately just as they arise. This has helped Harvester channel much needed resources for team building activities and other skills enhancements programs.

Conclusion:

In analyzing the management structure, culture, and style of Harvester Restaurants, it is clear that the management of organisations today does not solely lie on senior managers’ decision making prowess but also on the involvement of the other significant members of the lower and middle levels of the organisational hierarchy. Sometimes, the higher the number of management layers, the more likely that problems and solutions cannot be communicated on quickly enough. Given today’s competitive atmosphere, the need to make quick decisions and communicate problems faster can spell success or failure for the organisation. The key to sustaining competitiveness rests on having every member of the organisation involved in the decision-making process, having a management approach and management style which is similar to autonomous teams and empowerment, and having a leadership style capable of building local team loyalties while securing their commitment to the overall goals and visions of the organisation. It may be a risky proposition but it is better to live in an organisation that has a trust-oriented culture, where members value the service and information they share to the organization than in an organisation that controls and filters everything. The changes that took place at Harvester Restaurant’s management setup and the corresponding success that came with it proves that change strategies are slowly being influenced by the need to develop small teams which can foster better teamwork and provide avenues for continuous learning and sharing of information. If an organisation has the right structure and right management style, then the best people will ultimately shine and commit themselves invaluably and weak spots will eventually be discovered.

Bibliography

  • Books
  • Cane, Sheila (1996), Kaizen Strategies for Winning Through People, Pitman Publishing, London.
  • Duck, J (2001), The Change Monster, Crown Business, New York.
  • Handy, C (1993), Understanding Organizations, Harmondsworth, Penguin.
  • Harvard Business Essentials, (2003). Managing Change Transition. Harvard Business Press.
  • Johnson, G. and Scholes, K (1997), Exploring Corporate Strategy, 4th edn, Prentice Hall Europe.
  • Electronic Sources
  • Mcnamara, C (n.d), Basics =Definitions (and Misconceptions) About Management,
  • Retrieved: March 4, 2006 from Mcnamara, C (n.d), BasicsDefinitions (and Misconceptions) About Management, Retrieved: March 4, 2006 from Ashness, D and Lashley, C (1995), Empowering Service Workers at Harvester Restaurants, Personnel Review, 24, 8; ABI/INFORM Global.

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