The Human Manager
As we progress technologically, so our purely human problems seem to become more and more intractable. In our eagerness to innovate, we unintentionally distort values. To redress the balance, we need to re-evaluate our concepts of what makes a well-balanced life.
The same drift is apparent in business where a similar need has become apparent: the need to draft definitions of what makes a job well-balanced. Badly balanced jobs in the office, the shop and the factory are placing ever-increasing strains on the human relations involved. One of the biggest problems stems from boredom. Simple, old-fashioned boredom.
Work measurement and work simplification are accepted management tools, and their use can be justified on the basis of reducing operating costs by shortening training time and minimising skills requirements. But if we don't understand these techniques properly, or if we apply them too simplistically, either procedure can do more harm than good. In other words, let's get the emphasis away from the technique, and back on the people concerned.
Workers require certain satisfactions from their jobs. Managers that identify these basic needs and make sincere attempts to satisfy them are on solid ground.
But managers who are preoccupied with other matters (the nuts and bolts of their jobs) will continue to muddle along wondering: "What's wrong with people today?"
The employees must see that their contributions flow into the common ocean of everyday human effort. The telephone technician is not merely tying
two strands of wire together — he is linking patient and doctor, and so forth. Similarly, the manager or supervisor in 'any business establishment is more than a skilled technician: he is also a skilled human engineer.
The executives who still think that people work only for their paycheques are deluded. Only when they try to understand that workers are flesh-and-blood human beings with individuality expressed in the way they act and respond, are those managers going in the right direction. Their reward will be success for their subordinates, the company and themselves.
Despite all that has been written and spoken, there is still an overemphasis on productivity, speed and growth in the corporate and not the personal sense. Too little emphasis is placed on individuality and self-satisfaction. High production as a goal is not enough unless with it comes a corresponding degree of innovation, imagination and creativity.
People in business make a horrendous mistake if they think only of the work to be done and not of the worker. Simplifying duties, modernising the environment, mechanising the operation — all these are merely salad dressing on wilting lettuce unless we add understanding, compassion, tolerance and consideration to the menu.
Whether this is the best of times or the worst of times, it is the only time we have. - Art Buchwald