Just what is the task of a “General Manager” in an organization large enough to support specialists responsible for the various functions of finance, production, personnel, markets etc? The text‐books appear to say “co‐ordinate” and imply that training for general management should consist of knowing enough about the functions to control them. The business schools are extending this concept to include “policy making” and more recently “corporate planning and strategy”. Many organizations are now setting up Corporate Planning Departments, reporting to the General Manager so creating another function, to be co‐ordinated and controlled. When observed, or asked, a General Manager seems to spend a great deal of his time interacting with people. Although he may employ a Personnel Manager to be responsible for the staffing practices and policies, it is more often the case that the General Manager is seen as the overall “boss” of all the men and women in an organization, and he, not the Personnel Manager is usually regarded as the ultimate “father figure”. In this role all the inter‐personal and social activities of the organization appear to stem from him, he seems to set the “human tone” of the organization, whether he accepts the responsibility or not. So the function of the General Manager appears to be concerned with two extremes. On one side is the task of “organization management” in its broadest sense, not only co‐ordination of the moment but planning over a long time span. On the other is the highly detailed task of interpersonal relationships or man‐management. There is abounding evidence that many good management ideas and proposals get thwarted in their introduction by inept explanation or persuasion of colleagues or staff. Many General Managers get criticized just because they do not walk around and talk enough with their staff. Good plans are continually going astray due to bad communications, poor interpersonal relations and inadequate co‐operation.
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