Review of literature on employee management

Management is not only about managing resources and controlling expenses. Although these are basic functions of management, there’s more to management than just managing resources and controlling expenses. Another extremely important function of management is the ability to manage employees – especially since they are the lifeline of any business. Given the downturn in the economy, many businesses have not only been forced to lay off employees, but they’ve also been forced to close their doors due to a lack in demand. However, there are also businesses that have capitalized on the downturn of the economy to reduce overhead and increase employee productivity even if the need does not exist. This can certainly be a temporary fix, but squeezing everything out of employees does not appear to be the solution for long term business success. With that in mind, this paper will dive into some of the common management issues that businesses and leaders face today such as; the effects of poor leadership, not motivating employees effectively, and not being able to manage conflict appropriately. Based on the study of these management issues, the study concludes that poor leadership can result in not providing proper direction and/or guidance to your employees to meet company goals, not motivating employees can result in a decrease in employee productivity, and not managing conflict can lead to low morale and even a belief of inequality among the workgroup if issues are not handled properly. Further research would be appropriate to explore solutions to these issues.

Employee Management Issues

Given the fact that every person and employee is different, managing employees effectively continues to be one of the most common management issues that businesses face in this demanding world of business. Businesses can certainly hire employees that have great credentials and impressive resumes. However, managing employees and addressing management issues effectively is just as important as hiring employees with the proper experience and education in order to establish a good employee base that will be instrumental for future success.

With the above in mind, this study will focus on several employee management issues such as the effects of (a) poor leadership, (b) not motivating employees effectively, and (c) not being able to manage conflict appropriately.

Review of related literature

Poor leadership

Employees not only need guidance from their managers or leaders, but they also need to know that they will be there to help them when they need them or to help put things back on the right track. Leadership need not imply that a leader is, by nature, wise, and inspirational. Darker forces sometimes drive leaders as well as their followers. Bad leadership is as ubiquitous as it is insidious (Kellerman, 2007, Pg 17).

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Kellerman (2007) further points out that, “like good leaders, bad leaders are characterized by traits such as intelligence, high energy, strong drive for power and achievement, decisiveness, and determination. Bad leaders have a skill set that ranges from being good at communicating to being good decision making. Kellerman (2007) also describes bad leaders as, “incompetent, rigid, intemperate, callous, corrupt, insular, and evil” (Kellerman, 2007, Pg. 17). McGowan (2010) also notes, “Leadership can’t lead if it can’t see” (McGowan, 2010, Pg. 3).

Many leaders/managers are not successful due to their authoritative leadership styles, resulting in increased communication gap with their employees. Such leaders are unable to earn the respect and loyalty of their employees, who simply follow their orders because of their authority. Accordingly, there is a greater possibility of turnover and absenteeism by the valuable workforce (Ahmed, Shields, White, & Wilbert, 2010, Pg. 108). Fowlie & Wood (2009) further illustrate from one of their studies that, “bad leadership equates to a lack of self-management and relationship management competencies” (Fowlie & Wood, 2009, Pg. 568). Lack of communication and guidance from management simply exacerbates existing or potential problems. As a result, this could then leave the employees feeling like no one is listening and the relationship between employees and management starts deteriorating.

Poor motivation

Once the relationship between employees and management starts to deteriorate, this can then lead to motivational issues. Managers need to realize that every employee is different. Some employees prefer to work independently while others like the continued feedback and support from their leaders. As Lazenby (2008) notes, “a one-size-fits-all apprach to employee motivation doesn’t work. Challenges that motivate one person might actually discourage another. Some individuals seem to have a high need for praise and recognition, even when their work is mediocre; others don’t seem to care about those things” (Lazenby, 2008, Pg. 22).

As Lazenby (2008) further points out, “People are different, and we need to master the skills needed to motivate different people” (Lazenby,2008, Pg. 23). While some employees might be motivated by monetary rewards, managers also need to be aware that motivation could also depend on the age of the employee. Although one might not think that age is a factor when it comes to motivating workers – it actually is. Younger employees tend to be more motivated by monetary rewards and older employees are generally motivated by other factors. As Kauffman (1987) points out, “aging, in itself, does not lead to mental impairment, such as memory loss or a breakdown in intellect. They [older workers] may no longer be striving for top pay; they may see the need for better balance between work life and home life; their children may be self-supporting and their monetary needs are no longer a driving force” (Kauffman, 1987, Pg. 43). Not motivating employees can then lead to inter-departmental or departmental conflict – especially if employees believe inequality exists.

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Not managing conflict appropriately

Conflict in the workplace is not always a bad thing. However, conflict that’s not managed properly can certainly lead to bigger problems. Occasional conflict, if managed appropriately, can lead to creativity, better decision-making, and improved results. However, too much conflict can lead to a decrease in performance and group cohesion (Sikes, Gulbro, & Shonesy, 2010, Pg. 48). Assael (1969) further notes that, “constructive conflict results in improved communications between organizations, allowing for legitimate differences of interests and beliefs to emerge” (Assael, 1969, Pg. 578). Culture wars can occur when the beliefs and habits of one cultural group come to dominate the norms of the workplace, making it difficult for members of other groups to be included, understood, and to attain success (Turner, 2007, Pg. 244).

If conflict is not managed properly the results can ultimately affect the company’s bottom line. They “can substantially impact the vital organizational objective of serving customers (Tjosvold, Dann, & Wong, 1992, Pg. 1). It is generally agreed by the organization theorists that organizational conflict should be managed rather than resolved to enhance individual, group, and system wide effectiveness. The management of organizational conflict involves the diagnosis of and intervention in conflict at intrapersonal, interpersonal, intragroup, and intergroup levels (Rahim, Afzalur, Garrett, & Buntzman, 1992, Pg. 423-424). Rahim, Afzalur, Garrett, & Buntzman further point out that, “the difference between resolution and management of conflict is more than semantic. Conflict resolution implies reduction or elimination of conflict, whereas the management of conflict does not necessarily imply reduction or elimination of conflict (Rahim, Afzalur, Garrett, & Buntzman, 1992, Pgs. 423-424).

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Conflict is almost certain to occur in work teams due to the fact that they are comprised of different people possessing different perceptions, personalities, and behaviors. Although incredibly effective, work teams may stumble upon barriers which must be overcome to allow for growth and continuation towards the common goals of the group. Unfortunately conflict can’t be managed by walking away. You have to tackle the issue and, “the important takeaway is not necessarily knowing how to eliminate conflict all together, but to eliminate the problems before they begin or be prepared to deal with the conflict as it is presented” (Sikes, Gulbro, & Shonesy, 2010, Pg. 48).

Conclusion

Employee management issues can have adverse effects to any business and ultimately to their bottom line. Furthermore, unaddressed issues and/or poor leadership tend to have a rippling effect that can start with one employee and work its way through departments or even entire company’s if not addressed accordingly. Not managing employees appropriately can also lead to reduced opportunities not only for the employee, but for the company. In summary, poor leadership can result in not providing proper direction and/or guidance to your employees to meet company goals, not motivating employees can result in a decrease in employee productivity, and not managing conflict can lead to low morale or even a belief of inequality among the workgroup if issues are not handled properly.

As Ahmed, Shields, White, & Wilbert (2010) point out, “Managers must have a mind-set to think beyond their job titles and focus more on developing and inspiring employees to accomplish organizational goals.” After all, “The ultimate goal of an organization is to maximize shareholders’ value and profitability, which is accomplished by integrating strong leadership with formal and informal communication networks” (Ahmed, Shields, White, & Wilbert, 2010, Pg 119).

Given the fact that the human factor is part of any business, employee management issues are a common occurrence in the lives of every manager or leader. That’s not to say that there’s nothing that can be done about it or suggest that managers or leaders should simply deal with the issues and move on. On the contrary, there are things that managers and leaders can do to overcome and/or minimize these employee management issues. However, further research would be appropriate to explore options and solutions that can be implemented to address these employee management issues.


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