The Rising Role of a Modern Industrial Manager

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Throughout this century, the role of a modern industrial manager has increased rapidly and has become very crucial for the function of an organization. There are many considerations and factors about the duties and responsibilities of a modern industrial manager, and is quite difficult to give a definition due to the complexity of the role that a modern manager has. A simple definition is that a modern industrial manager is responsible for supervising and conducting the operations of human and technological resources that provided, in order for the organizational objectives to be achieved (Billsberry, Jon - 1996). The role of a modern manager includes the control of a wide range of responsibilities that are extremely important for the successful functioning of an organisation. More specifically, a manager deals with the establishment and the execution of a project plan in order to achieve the targets of an industrial operation. Among an organization, the key members have fewer responsibilities and less work compared to managers, however they have a crucial role in the development of the project or the organization. Alternatively, the manager's duty is to motivate them in order to improve their performance and the organization's efficiency (Billsberry, Jon - 1996).

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Nowadays, the rapid development of technology has a direct impact in management and as C.P. Snow stated ''Technology…is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other…'' (C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971). As a result, a modern manager, in order to be able to perform efficiently in this period of technological innovations, needs to have a wider specialist knowledge than ever before in a broad range of areas like organizations, technology and markets. Consequently, there is a continuous demand to update their skills and knowledge, and to maintain their status in organizational systems and the labour market (Billsberry, Jon - 1996).

In the first section of this analysis, it is important to clearly define what one might understand by the term managerial roles. Henry Mintzberg is a highly important scholar for defining the term managerial roles. Mintzberg argued that any organisation is consisted of a number of different layers. The fundamental part, which is the base, is the operating core made up of workers who execute the basic tasks needed in order for the organisation to function. The next layer of this operating core is an administrative component, which is composed of "managers who supervise, control and provide resources for the operators" (Bolman, Lee and Deal, Terrence - 1997). As reported by Mintzberg, the general role of managers, but especially in this category, are persons "responsible for the motivation and actuation of subordinates" (Mintzberg, Henry - 1973). Nevertheless, as Bolman mentions, there is another level of management which is directly above of this level. "At the top of Mintzberg's figure, senior managers in the strategic apex focus on the outside environment, determine the mission, and shape the grand design" (Bolman, Lee and Deal, Terrence - 1997). According to Mintzberg, any organisation also needs a technostructure in which specialists in any given field provide their expertise and a group of support staff to ensure that the organisation operates smoothly. It goes without saying that according to Mintzberg a number of different layers must exist in any organisation for it to be successful and that managerial roles are an essential part of this structure.

Figure.1 - Mintzberg 's Model. Source: Mintzberg, H. The Structuring of Organizations. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1979

Secondly, the managerial roles and skills within the industrial environment will be examined and analysed. According to Mintzberg, managerial roles have an abundance of distinguishing features from other types of roles in the construction and engineering industry. Managerial roles incline to be characterised by a frenetic pace of work and by an almost endless amount of work, because there is not a recognisable signpost to indicate that they have accomplished their job. In addition, managerial roles also tend to be identified by wide variety and fragmentation in the issues that need to be addressed and especially in the industrial environment managers want to be retained exhaustively up-to-date. In the engineering industry, managers need to contend with a large amount of various tasks and decisions and for that reason feel that they must be kept abreast with developments. Consequently, managers often tend to be involved deeply with every aspect of their work. In order to achieve that, they must ensure that efficient and steady lines of communication exist in their workforce.

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It could be said, that there is a large number of managerial roles in both the construction and engineering industry. Managers in both industries are responsible for performing a wide variety of tasks, because as Mintzberg states "the manager must concentrate his efforts so as to bring subordinate and organisational needs into a common accord in order to promote efficient operations" (Mintzberg, Henry - 1973). Under those circumstances, it is clear that managers in both industries must have a wide range of skills in order to be able to accomplish efficiently their roles. As Choo distinguishes, a manager acts as a "figurehead, leader, liaison, monitor, nerve centre entrepreneur, resource allocator and negotiator all at the same time" (Choo, Chun Wei - 2002). Mintzberg claims that this requires a comprehensive skill set and advises that managers should be taught skills in a number of distinct areas. According to Mintzberg, managers need to be experienced in conflict resolution, leadership, working with peers, information processing, decision making under ambiguity, resource allocation, entrepreneurship and resource allocation. It is clear, therefore, that a comprehensive range of skills is needed in order for a manager to be effective in the construction and engineering industry.

Figure.2 - Graphical representation of managerial roles [online]. Available at http://www.hkma.org.hk

Moving to the next step of the analysis of modern industrial manager, it would be useful to analyse the significant advancement in technology which results in the improvement of the systems that used by firms in the provision of services and products (Hill, Terry - 2000). Using the technology as implement, could give the opportunity to the company to be improved in product and service quality. It is manager's responsibility to understand what advantages can be created for the organization by the continuous development of technology and what risks and constraints can be imposed on the operation of the organization (Trott, Paul - 2008).

A notable distinction between the modern managers and the managers few decades ago is the technological development and the ability of modern managers to use the technology in order to create good opportunities for the organizations. Furthermore, the managers must realize that technology has an extremely important role in businesses and they must be aware for technological advances, introducing them in order to strengthen their organization. On the other hand, it is necessary for the staff of the company to understand quickly the importance of technological developments and familiarize their selves to the increasing technological innovations. An important factor is that a manager needs to possess a better understanding of the correlation between the power of advanced technologies and the method in which they applied to the operation (Slack, Nigel et al. - 2007).

Another important role for the modern industrial manager is the analysis of constant change in advanced technology and the implementation of it in the organization. The manager must consider all the proposed ideas from the organization's staff, the costumers or antagonists, and from the department of research and development in order to assess the after an extensive discussion with his/her personnel and decide if he/she introduces them for the benefit of the firm(Slack, Nigel et al. - 2007).

Apart from this, another important detail for a modern manager in the field of advanced technology is control and planning. An organization could suffer disastrous results, if the planning is inadequately. Undertaking projects with a high degree of complexity make the stage of planning quite difficult, however they could give a remarkable benefit in the company and the control of them could be a great challenge. As the activities of the project progress from one stage to another and, the involvement of many different staff members, resources (supplies) and activities is required, the effect on each other rises rapidly. Finally, the probability of disregarding any stage of the project increased and could lead in the delaying of the initial plan (Slack, Nigel et al. - 2007).

A famous social psychologist named Douglas McGregor presented and analyzed in his work, ''The Human Side of Enterprise'', two theories about the motivation of human being in the work. The two theories were the ''theory X'' and ''theory Y''. The ''theory X'' presents a negative point of view for human behavior and is based on three assumptions. Firstly, people have an inherent dislike for work and they will attempt to avoid it. Secondly, the majority of the people have to be coerced, controlled, guided and be threatened with punishment in order to give all their efforts in work. Finally, people as irresponsible and unambitious creatures need always direction. They only care about finding security.

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Alternatively, ''theory Y'', which opposes ''theory X'', is more complicated and developed states that the work is in human nature; people are able to direct and control their selves in order to achieve their work objectives; commitment of people to their work objectives gives them the opportunity to become self-controlled and self-directed; there is a satisfaction of ego in achievement of goals; there is a great number of people who have high levels of creativity, ingenuity and imagination which force them to seek responsibility and overcome it and lastly under the conditions of the modern life in industries, intellectual potentials of human beings are being only to a certain extent utilized(Wolfgang, Pindur et al. - 1995).

It could be said that these two management approaches are still applied in business and in fact an abundance of different implications can be carried by these two theories. Theory X and theory Y are very critical in the work of a manager; not only for motivation and management but also because they contribute an important guidance for managers helping them in the development and cultural improvement of their company.

In the beginning of 1980's, a more developed approach to management was presented by Professor William Ouchi. ''Theory Z'' is based on a combination between the Japanese and American management philosophies and identified by consensual decision making; long-term work engagement; slow evaluation and advancement in higher position in an organization; explicit, formalized measures, informal control; holistic concern for the employee and his/her family; emphasis on training and constantly progression of product and performance and individual responsibility. Furthermore, ''Theory Z'' gives the opportunity to the organizations not only to achieve great benefits in terms of financial performance but also, in terms of commitment, satisfaction and motivation of their employee.

Nowadays, the business environment is developed constantly; as a consequence, organizations must rely on human work force. This is the method that makes organizations to distinguish from their competitors. A company, which employs ambitious and well-educated/trained personnel, fulfils all the requirements for achieving its future objectives. In addition, even if a firm has the most advanced technology and their staffs is not trained sufficiently, it should not expect great benefits due to the fact that technology itself cannot assist the firm in obtaining its objectives. It goes without saying that the contribution of human resources management is noteworthy. Through a number of stages, which involve; activities such as determining the number of personnel that a company needs or if any needs in staff can be replaced by independent contractors, searching for well-educated human resources and engaging for the higher level of their performance which will be acquired by training them and finally, overseeing that personnel follows firm's regulations, the organization can achieve the objectives that have been set.

In conclusion, it has become clear during the course of this investigation that there a wide range of managerial roles and responsibilities in both the construction and engineering industry. A modern manager should have all the necessary background knowledge to deal with a wide range of responsibilities like human resources, technological equipment, supervision of operations and organization's development in order to be an effective manager in industry. As Mintzberg has shown, any organization or company is composed of a number of important layers and managerial roles which are critical components of this system. Both workforce managers and senior managers must ensure that they fulfill a wide variety of roles in order to achieve the goals of the organization. Finally, it is clear that requires a broad range of skills is required in order to be able to bring impressive results from the workforce and as it has been illustrated above managers must possess a large number of different skills in order to be effective.