Understanding and Using the Best-Sellers


Every person that has worked for a company with poor management — where a lack of communication or a failure to motivate employees is the norm rather than the exception — can benefit from the readings in this assignment. There are quality companies where employees are encouraged and treated as valuable assets, and then there are companies that rely on threats of punishment and intimidation to get the most out of their workers.

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In this paper, the critiques of six readings from the book The Manager’s Bookshelf are presented, and each of the readings has value because it is good information based on experienced, highly intelligent authors that have had direct experience in the workplace. What is important to realize is that a great number of people go to work in places where they are thought of as nothing more than machines, and they do not get respect based on their potential to help the company meet the bottom line. But there are also companies that care about employees and have innovative strategies in place to motivate employees. The readings in this paper cover both of those scenarios, and offer solutions for managers that want to have their companies be profitable but understand there are steps that must be taken in order to inspire their workers.

ONE: Highlight Management Theories in Each Reading

Understanding and Using the Best-Sellers

Jon L. Pierce and John W. Newstrom discuss in detail books about management — including theories and experiences successful managers detail in those books — that have made the “best sellers” list. The books that they allude to communicate management philosophies that work for the authors; they provide “an optimistic message” to managers; they offer “an easy cure” for organizational problems; and they provide new approaches to success. The challenge for readers of these books is to find aspects that could be helpful and to “challenge” and to “question” the pros and cons and the philosophies presented. Was it for profit? Was it for publicity? And are some of the authors “self-serving egotists” who write with flair and passion?

Flawed Advice and the Management Trap

Put simply, this reading implores managers to first define a vision, define a strategy that goes hand-in-hand with that vision, relate to how management can carry out the strategy, and finally, make sure employees understand and can produce given the strategy that has been laid out. But if employees get inconsistent advice and information, management will fail to accomplish the goals set forth in the vision and strategy.

The Practice of Management

Management is both the “disciplined and integrated practice” of handling workers, work, managers and the business itself, Peter Drucker insisted. Management is also the “creative process” that brings innovation and entrepreneurship into a company’s strategy. When managers have vision, when the company contributes to society and has more goals than just earnings, and when managers are innovative, focused, and spirited, success will follow.

Out of the Crisis

William B. Gartner and M. James Naughton write about how and why management styles have changed in America. In the 1980s Japan was an economic engine running well on all cylinders. And when NBC produced a white paper called “If Japan Can, Why Can’t We?” It gave exposure to the theories of management by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who identified the surge for “short-term profits” as one of the flaws in organizations. Managers are “prisoners of some structural characteristics” that hold their companies back, Deming asserted. Managers need to be able to predict how systems and people will perform, and create systems that allow workers to thrive and be productive.

The Human Side of Enterprise

Douglas McGregor believed that his Theory X should be adopted by managers because basically employees have “an inherent dislike of work” and hence they must be “coerced, controlled, directed and threatened with punishment” if they don’t toe the line. The attitude in McGregor’s Theory X seems condescending and cruel, but his Theory Y is far more positive. Theory Y suggests that committed employees seek responsibility and knowledge, and it is a manager’s duty to bring the best out of people; hence, managers should not follow Theory X

Maslow on Management

Abraham H. Maslow is considered a giant in the field of psychology; and his approach to management begins with his reflections on people, who generally speaking want to achieve, have the capacity to be trusted, to grow, to improve, and to identify with “a common objective.” Moreover, people want to be productive and to improve things. So Maslow’s message to managers is straightforward: a) if you are an authoritarian manager, you are dysfunctional; b) your workers can be challenged, “stretched” and “strained” on occasion and this is beneficial; c) if employees are fully informed as to what is expected of them, they will do their best; and d) “everybody needs to be absolutely clear about the organization’s goals, directions, and purposes.”

TWO: Apply the Theories to my Organization

As to the reading about “Flawed Advice and the Management Trap,” in our company advice comes in very different forms depending on which manager or foreman is giving the advice. There is no one theme as to how employees should approach their duties and responsibilities. It doesn’t seem there is any vision at all toward the future success of the company; workers show up, punch their time cards, and the first thing employees hear from managers is to get busy because the big corporate executives may show up today to inspect the company and the employees. Fear of penalty or punishment is instilled in workers; rather than being inspired and being part of a team, employees are paranoid they may be laid off, and they worry about taking even a minute more for their breaks because camera are watching every move.

“The Practice of Management” discusses the theories of Peter Drucker, who is famous for his success in taking stalled companies and making them profitable. My company does not line up well when it comes to the theories of Drucker. Our organization is not outward looking at all; in fact it is kind of closed off to what the rest of the workplace world is doing. The only noticeable goal is monetary and employees are not inspired but rather they are put under pressure day after day to make the managers look good. Workers are not expected to be involved in teamwork, and there is no spirit of success. Managers are hired and fired with regularity so it is hard for employees to settle in with a particular management style since each new manager is only concerned with his or her survival in the company. The only objective for employees seems to be getting through each day without being criticized or otherwise made to feel worthless.

In my company the operative mentality among managers is mirrored in McGregor’s Theory X, put forward in “The Human Side of Enterprise.” That is, the managers in my workplace believe that we, the employees don’t like the work we are engaged with. The managers in this company think that employees don’t enjoy work but the truth is we just don’t enjoy being controlled and threatened with punishment all the time. If the management could see that with positive and innovative strategies, the workforce would become more productive and would also be happier in the jobs that are assigned. Theory Y should be put into place in our company. That is, instead of threats of punishment, workers should be inspired by management — the goals and the mission of the company should be spelled out — and workers should be given incentives in order to encourage them to contribute to the overall success of the company. ‘

Moreover, if employees were given additional training for better positions within the company, instead of being kept where they are (and becoming bored and jaded), the whole workforce would be motivated to do better. There is no imagination or innovation in this company, just a daily grind where everyone is expected to do their jobs and keep quiet.

Maslow’s reading explains that every worker has the capacity to be trusted, to grow, to improve, and to identify with “a common objective,” but when management is dysfunctional and fails to relate in a human way to employees, there is no way the employees will be happy or motivated. In our company there is no future, there is only today and maybe tomorrow. Goals are established to meet temporary deadlines and employees are seen as the machine that runs the company, not the people who need encouragement and positivity in order to be satisfied in their work. Also, Maslow believed that when employees are fully informed and when managers all have the same advice, they will be more productive. That message is lost in my company.

THREE: Compare and Contrast Two of the Articles as they Relate to my Organization

“The Human Side of Enterprise” reviews Theory X and Theory Y, which is like reviewing a company with negative workforce approaches juxtaposed with a company that believes in employees and seeks to motivate employees. There is a clear line of distinction between Theory X and Theory Y: Theory X is the old way of doing things, where people at work are seen as slugs who don’t want to work and treated with distain; and Theory Y employees are seen as people with great potential, who have the capacity to learn, who have a high degree of imagination and who are able to assume responsibility. This article is among the best in the book because it clearly establishes the right way to mange vs. The wrong way to manage. It is black and white, with no gray area at all. The company I work for is very easy to identify in this article; clearly I have been working for a company that has adopted Theory X, and I am actively seeking an opportunity with a company that exemplifies Theory Y

The contrasting article in this section is “Flawed Advice and the Management Trap,” which also shows the right way of treating the workforce and the wrong way to treat the workforce. Model I is a situation in which “flawed advice” is provided to employees so that any given manager can keep his or her position — basically that manager is protecting his or her job by saying anything that keeps people busy. Also, in Model I all employees are treated the same, and manager approaches the workforce with indifference. But in Model II, there is no flawed advice; there is, instead, the sharing of accurate, helpful information with all employees. The advantage of Model II is that managers lay out a vision for the company in clear language that everyone understands; those managers in Model II also define the strategy that is necessary to accomplish the company goals, so that all workers are on the same page and well treated.

It boils down to good communication in Model II, and poor communication in Model I. And when compared with Theory X (which has similarities with Model I) and Theory Y (which is more like Model II), these two articles have a great deal in common.

FOUR: Evaluate your Organization in the Light of your Analyses.

Reading through the six essays for this assignment it is clear to me that the managers in my company are totally unknowing when it comes to theories and practices and strategies of successful companies. From the article, “Flawed Advice and the Management Trap,” through Maslow’s essay, there are obvious applications to taking a sluggish, dysfunctional company like mine and making it more effective — and at the same time creating a happier, livelier, more productive workforce. One of the flaws in my company has its origins in the human relations department; that is, the strategy for hiring employees is flawed. How do I know that? Because the wrong people are hired to be in leadership positions; in other words, the vetting process is either non-existent or the HR person in charge of interviewing people is incompetent. It appears that people are hired who don’t have the experience or the expertise to manage workers.

And if incompetent people are the ones hiring staff, it is reasonable to expect that incompetent people will be hired. People are very capable of growing into new positions, and are able, as Maslow suggests, to do “…courageous” things along with being able to “conquer their fears and endure anxiety.” Why aren’t more managers enlightened? Maslow wonders the same thing as a person reads between the lines. Treating people well “…spoils them for being treated badly,” Maslow explains. Once an employee has worked for an enlightened manager, an authoritarian manager will be very difficult to work for. And in time, as is true in my company, people will leave the company because there are no enlightened managers.

The cost of hiring and training new employees to replace the ones that quit is quite high, and if only from the point-of-view of savings, our company should change its attitude and start hiring quality people, thus saving the time and cost of bringing in replacements.

In conclusion, the six readings assigned are all very helpful in order for a student to have a series of broad brushstrokes into why some companies flourish while others struggle. Knowing what makes a good manager is much easier than actually putting forth the strategies that lead to hiring and training good managers. But every HR person and every company executive should be sent to seminars and other outside events that educate and train managers in order to succeed and to be financially successful. Being respected at work and being given good information through proven communication channels is the pathway to happy employees.

Works Cited

Pierce, J.L., and Newstrom, J.W. (2013). The Manager’s Bookshelf: A Mosaic of Contemporary

Views. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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