What are the keys and attributes of the top managers? How can managers make a positive impact on the outlook of their employees to ensure they are working at the optimal level? Are you following the proper tactics to be a good manager? These topics are discussed in this Business English lesson on employee management.
Vocabulary – Expressions – Phrasal Verbs – Idioms:
Employee management – the art and science of managing the people who work within an organization so that the organization’s aims are achieved in the most satisfactory way possible.
Motivation – the internal drive that makes an individual want to carry out a certain action. For example, if my pants catch fire while I am wearing them, the pain motivates me to put the fire out.
Work environment – the physical, and to an extent, psychological, aspects of the workplace. For example, ambient temperature, cleanliness, quality of tools, the attitude of workers and managers to each other.
Organizational culture – the thinking behind the way an organization works. For example, there may be a culture of highly structured and hierarchical management, in which people are not treated as individuals. Alternatively, there might be a culture of respect for all, of encouragement of individuals to achieve at their highest level, and of a degree of democracy in decision making.
Shared vision – the situation where the worker and managers in a company have a common understand of the objectives, aims, and values of the company. This is of prime importance in successful employee motivation.
Direction and lack of it – one of the most important elements in employee management is that everyone understands what the purpose of their task is. Lack of clear direction is a serious demotivator, whereas having good direction is motivating.
Personnel department – the department which is responsible for the practicalities of employing people – recruiting, training, deciding on correct compensation, discipline, hiring and firing in general.
Human Resources – a more up to date name for the Personnel Department.
Line management – the operational managers in the chain of command within an organization.
Staff managers – these are effectively service providers who may sit somewhat outside the operational chain of command, for example, human resources managers, fleet managers.
Management hierarchy – the pecking order within an organization, the structure of who reports to who, which often decides the effectiveness or otherwise of how information is passed through the organization.
Employee flexibility – allowing employees to take charge of their own work and scheduling. For example, an employee can decide his or her own start and finish hours, to fit with their own life, provided they work the number of hours the company requires. This can also apply to the ability of employees to undertake work usually done by other employees. For example, the receptionist may double as the switchboard operator occasionally.
Transparency – an attitude of openness within the organization which fosters trust between managers and employees.
Productivity – the amount of effective and useful work which can be achieved with a particular resource, especially time.
Getting Things Done (GTD) – a management technique which focuses on having employees prioritize the actual content of their job, rather than peripheral duties such as attending meetings, replying to memos and so on.
Feedback channels – structured systems which allow information to flow freely through an organization, especially from bottom to top.
Work/life balance – getting the balance between work and life right, so that people are able to satisfy their physical and emotional needs adequately, both at work and at home. For example, allowing people time to attend to emergencies with children or elders, without being recriminating.
Sweatshop – a company where people are driven to work hard for low wages under very poor conditions. Usually, a factory of some kind, frequently found in developing economies, and not unknown elsewhere.
Labor unions – organizations representing workers’ rights, can be your worst enemy or your best friend, largely depending on how you view and treat them.
Independent employees – by 2020, approximately half of American workers will be independently employed, on short-term contracts, or working on a consultancy or short term basis.
Micromanagement – management which pays attention and tries to control the smallest detail of work. Sometimes required, but usually the kiss of death for employee confidence and effectiveness.
Coaching – a management skill which means that employees are coached how to do the best job possible, rather than simply just told what to do and then expected to do it.
Job satisfaction – enjoyment, pleasure and emotional reward derived from employment.
One of the key issues for all organizations is how to attract high-quality employees. In the future, the use of independent employees will be customary, and they will require careful management. People will prioritize a meaningful work/life balance and job satisfaction, and a shared vision will be more important than just simple monetary reward.
Micromanagement is out, coaching is in, so attention needs to be paid to things such as transparency and effective feedback channels when considering the development of a strong organizational culture.
Live Conversation Example:
John Harris: I’m concerned that our Human Resources department is becoming very inflexible – line managers are complaining that there are too much interference and regimentation.
Dick Worrel: That is the first that I have heard about it!
John Harris: That is exactly what I mean – our organizational culture works by transparency and good communication, but the HR department is not buying into that, it seems.
Dick Worrel: I’m sorry that you are not happy, but, I was asked to help improve productivity. I truly believe that the line managers are creating issues by allowing too much employee flexibility. They are undermining my authority! And they are far too cozy with the labor unions.
John Harris: Dick, you are out of step with the philosophy of this organization. Things are going to have to change if you want to carry on as head of Human Resources.
How does your organization create a good working environment for employees?
Do you feel that you have enough freedom to express your ideas and thoughts at work? What could improve matters?
How should John Harris, the Chief Executive Officer, have dealt with the problem he has with long term employee Dick Worrel (in our conversation example above)?
Is it appropriate to allow an unmarried, childless person time off to deal with an urgent visit to the vet with a pet?
What can you do to make the people who report to you feel more confident, more important, and more satisfied with their job?
Do all the best ideas come from management?
Labor organizations – friend or enemy?