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Science of management


The science of management was not always as developed as we know it today. Modern management had its early roots at the turn of the twentieth century but, as a concept it has developed by leaps and bounds since the early incarnation. The initial pioneers had been able to repackage management as a science and in the process, brought analytical vigour into the workplace. The study of work was seen as an important discipline for establishing and defining work processes. However, the downside to the early practice of management was the failure to place ethics on an equal footing with efficiency.##M;[more]##

The spur towards scientific management lay in the observation that workers were engaged in what was then referred to as “soldiering.” Instead of working as hard and as fast as they could, they deliberately slowed down. They had no incentive to go faster or to be more productive. It was in their interest to keep their employers ignorant of how fast work can be done. Nine out of ten workmen believed that it was in their best interests to go slow rather than to go fast. They firmly believed they should do as little work as possible in return for the money that they got. No one had ever thought of examining the nature of people’s work until Winslow Taylor did so. Armed with a stopwatch he examined in intimate detail exactly what happened and how long it took. Taylor’s research led to workers knowing exactly what was expected of them and managers knew exactly how much should be produced. Measurement increased production, as everyone knew what he or she had to do. Increased production led to lower costs and higher profits. Taylor’s ideas were published in The Principles of Scientific Management and served as the foundation on which other management theories were built.

The gospel of “emotional intelligence” is one such theory, which speaks to the notion that the ability of managers to understand and manage their own emotions and relationships is the key to better business performance. Although the concept has always been a factor in individual success particularly in business, it had not been specifically identified until in recent years. Research conducted in brain science and behavioural science made it clear that there is a capacity called emotional intelligence. The ability to manage one’s disturbing emotions, being able to perceive how people are feeling and seeing things from their perspective, or simply the ability to cooperate well on a team – all of which are based on emotional intelligence – were generally the attributes that distinguish the best from the worst performers.

It is possible for managers to develop emotional intelligence abilities over time. Organizations can in fact set up a format and make accessible a mode of learning that is appropriate to the emotional intelligence domain. The good news is that if there is something you are not as good at as you would like to be, you can improve but you would need to do it in such a way that brings along that particular part of the brain. First you have to care, it has to be something you are motivated about, something that really matters to you. Because if you are indifferent and not fully committed it is going to take a long time. If on the other hand you are committed, it doesn’t take any extra time because you use your day-to-day encounters and opportunities to practice and hone the improved skills.

One of the fundamental capabilities that distinguishes emotionally intelligent leaders from others is integrity. Business needs to make a pendulum swing from a culture where whatever is legal and whatever would be approved by accounting is passed as the correct standard. That is a culture where it is very hard to raise ethical concerns, to one where ethics becomes a business advantage. It requires leaders who are ethical and this has always been a part of the emotional intelligence model. As a manager, you must be able to manage your distressing emotions in such a manner that they don’t get in the way of work you have to do. Smart managers know this well, they never seek to know every function in the work place, all they need to know is the right questions to ask.