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6 May, 2019 10:37:43 AM

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Management in the dynamic world of digitisation

With paperless offices taking over the world, many companies are making the shift away from paper and towards digital documents
Masihul Huq Chowdhury
Management in the dynamic world of digitisation

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Following WWII, the US was positioned for exponential growth in manufacturing as it shifted its war-time production capacity over to civilian products such as cars and appliances. After the war, soldiers were recruited into business schools where the role of the manager was reinvented from that of stewardship of an organisation’s resources or society’s ethical concerns, to logistics involving people, supplies, facilities and production.

Logistical coordination between public, private, and military was a key aspect of winning a modern war, and this new manager became a perfect reflection of his military counterpart, including taking up a fixed role in a hierarchy of power. As corporations grew into larger and larger conglomerates, the managerial positions became further removed from the organisation’s core activities, and increasingly geared toward delivering commands from higher-ups and exerting control on others who occupied subordinate role. As modern economies shifted away from manufacturing and toward information and knowledge, the function of management changed again. Work processes were no longer designed in clear linear fashion, as along an assembly line.
Rather what needed to be accomplished came in from and flowed out in all directions. There was no longer a way for managers to position themselves along the route of the work itself and they became less associated with front line workers and more associated with a professional managerial pool. Management became a separate “science” with its own tools and techniques for modelling, mapping and measuring. In this new era of professionalism, the function of managers became more and more based on generalized abstractions of people as human systems that could enable them to exert control from a distance. The modern organisation in the information age now had two distinct organisational structures — roles that conformed to power relations, and roles that corresponded to operational tasks. Since managers had the power to set compensation policy, wages and earnings came to depend more on power roles than the talents, skills and value created through operational activities. As a consequence, organisations became biased toward managerial functions such as more complex abstraction, measurement, regulatory control, policy-making, contract writing, etc… and the “race to the top” meant building ever more complexity into the system. These were the functions that managers awarded each other with unprecedented levels of compensation — because it was the kind of work they were good at. Increasingly management schools fed into this process by escalating the complexity of management theory in highly academic contexts.

Management is a social art that often requires the personal touch. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch mastered the craft of choosing, developing and motivating the right people, Crant notes. Welch spent as much as 70 per cent of his time dealing with people. Many new managers are typically chosen for their technical skills, which Crant refers to as “hard skills”. “The hard skills alone are not enough for you to succeed,” Crant says.

“The soft side of management, dealing with people, is at least as important as technical skills.” Qualities of a good manager include the ability to work with others and get things done through people. Without people skills a supervisor’s career tends to plateau, making the path to the top much tougher to achieve. There are seven approaches to understanding motivation: 1. Personality: Intrinsic rewards – being motivated is part of your personality; Extrinsic rewards – being motivated by things outside of you such as pay, bonuses or other personal benefits. 2. Attitudes: Your level of job satisfaction. Are you meeting your needs at work? People whose needs are met at work tend to be more motivated. 3. Reward Systems: What are the outcomes people receive at work following their actions? 4. Fair treatment by others motivates human behavior. 5. Expectations: Beliefs about the likelihood of success; self-confidence. 6. Specific Goals: Setting goals as a mechanism to influence the motivations of others.

People have been managing work for hundreds of years, and we can trace formal management ideas to the 1700s. But the most significant developments in management theory emerged in the 20th century. We owe much of our understanding of managerial practices to the many theorists of this period, who tried to understand how best to conduct business. Tech Savvy: Nowadays, it seems like even toddlers know how to use tablets and navigate their way through social media. Tech savviness is one of the essential management skills for working in the digital era. Managers should have extensive knowledge about using various programmes and technologies to help give their employees the best resources possible. So spend your time playing with apps and engaging in the world of social media. Technology is constantly evolving, and if you’re not learning, then you’re missing an opportunity to benefit your business.

Ability to Manage Data Digitally: With paperless offices taking over the world, many companies are making the shift away from paper and towards digital documents. Say goodbye to the piles of documents piled high on office desks, and clunky filing cabinets blocking dimly lit hallways. If your company wants to be relevant in the digital era, they better start digitising everything. While many offices want to go paperless, few have achieved it. The paperless dream needs leaders to help guide the process. This is why creating an efficient digital document management system is one of the key management skills in the 21st century.

Managers should work with their team to create a system that works best for everyone, ideally one that discourages the use of paper trailing around the office. Digitise old documents and use digital document software like Soda PDF to help create, manage, store, share and sign digital documents from multiple devices and operating systems. In fact, with SharePoint integration and the ability to work with Google Drive and Dropbox, Soda PDF is the perfect document management system when working with multiple contributors and clients, in businesses both big and small.

Virtual Connectivity: Along the same lines as tech savviness is virtual connectivity. Not only is it important to know how to use technology, but it is essential to know how to leverage it. Managers should be keeping up-to-date with their company’s social media presence, as well as that of competitors. You’d be surprised what companies share on social media nowadays – so get scrolling! Staying up-to-date virtually can also help managers search for new talent, evaluate their standing with customers, test marketing strategies, and communicate with clients on a more informal basis.

Extensive Knowledge of Social Media: You may have never thought that Facebook and Instagram could be so essential to your business, but they are. Management skills have shifted from the ability to manage people face-to-face, to managing them virtually as well. Knowing how to use social media is a key skill for recruiting talent, interacting with the public and marketing products. Interacting with clients and posting about employees and events within the organisation is a great way for the public to see the business as much more than just a business. Managers should encourage their employees to contribute to their company’s social media forum and display values on their own social media profiles that coincide with organizational values. With technology constantly changing and evolving, it’s important for managers to stay ahead of the game. Essentially, all these management skills are tailored towards staying up-to-date and setting the tone for employees in the workplace. If a manager works to bring their team and their business into the digital age, his or her employees will follow.

The writer, a banker by profession, has worked both in local and overseas market with various foreign and local banks in different positions

SHK

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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