What is Organizational and Business Management? How Do I Manage?

Sections of this topic

    What is Organizational and Business Management? How Do I Manage?

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

    Comprehensive, practical book by Carter McNamara

    Leadership and Supervision in Business - Book Cover

    The guidelines and resources in this topic are not sufficient to develop
    strong competencies in management. Those competencies come from extensive experience
    in applying that information.

    Sections of This Topic Include

    What is Management?
    Traditional View of Management
    Common Terms, Levels and Roles in Management
    Is Leading Different Than Managing?

    To Truly Understand Management, Know Its Broad Context
    Different Levels and Roles of Management
    Historical Theories
    New Paradigm in Management
    Contemporary Theories

    How to Do Traditional Functions in Management
    Controlling / Coordinating

    How to Manage Yourself, Groups and Organizations
    Suggested Core Competencies to Manage in Any Situation
    How to Manage Yourself
    How to Manage a Group
    How to Manage an Organization

    How to Manage Nonprofit-Specific Activities

    Basic Guide to
    Management and Supervision

    How Can You Improve Your Management Skills?

    General Resources


    Traditional View of Management

    There are a variety of views about the term “management”. Traditionally,
    the term “management” (sometimes referred to as “organizational
    management” or “business management”) refers to the activities
    involved in the four general functions listed below.

    1) Planning, including identifying goals, objectives, methods, resources needed
    to carry out methods, responsibilities and dates for completion of tasks. Examples
    of planning are strategic planning, business planning, project planning, staffing
    planning, advertising and promotions planning.

    2) Organizing resources to achieve the goals in an optimum fashion. Examples
    are organizing new departments, human resources, office and file systems and
    re-organizing businesses.

    3) Leading, including to set direction for the organization, groups and individuals
    and also influence people to follow that direction. Examples are establishing
    strategic direction (vision, values, mission and / or goals) and championing
    methods of organizational performance management to pursue that direction.

    4) Controlling, or coordinating, including the organization’s systems, processes
    and structures to reach effectively and efficiently reach goals and objectives.
    This includes ongoing collection of feedback, and monitoring and adjustment
    of systems, processes and structures accordingly. Examples include use of financial
    controls, policies and procedures, performance management processes and measures
    to avoid risks.

    Common Terms, Levels and Roles in Management

    It helps to be acquainted with this information about management because, even
    among experienced managers, there are different interpretations. What is most
    important is that you come up with your own interpretations and be able to explain
    them to others with whom you work. See
    Common Terms and Roles
    in Management

    Different Views of Management

    Another view is that “management” is getting things done through
    others. Yet another view, quite apart from the traditional view, asserts that
    the job of management is to support employee’s efforts to be fully productive
    members of the organizations and citizens of the community.

    To most employees, the term “management” probably means the group
    of people (executives and other managers) who are primarily responsible for
    making decisions in the organization. In a nonprofit, the term “management”
    might refer to all or any of the activities of the Board of Directors, executive
    director and/or program directors.

    Some writers, teachers and practitioners assert that the above view is rather
    outmoded and that management needs to focus more on leadership skills, e.g.,
    establishing vision and goals, communicating the vision and goals, and guiding
    others to accomplish them. They also assert that leadership must be more facilitative,
    participative and empowering in how visions and goals are established and carried
    out. Some people assert that this really isn’t a change in the management functions,
    rather it’s re-emphasizing certain aspects of management.

    Is Leading Different Than Managing?

    There seems to be an increasing number of perspectives that leading is different
    than managing. They explain that perspective with phrases like “Leaders
    do the right things, and managers do things right” or “Leaders lead
    people and managers manage resources”. See the View
    That Leading is Different Than Managing
    . There are others who disagree with
    that view and agree with a more traditional view as included above. Also see
    That Separating “Leading” from “Managing” Can Be Destructive

    Additional Perspectives on the Term “Management”

    (Business Dictionary)
    Management (Wikipedia)


    Historical Theories

    It also helps you to be acquainted with historical theories, especially to
    appreciate the rather recent changes (which are quite different than traditional
    approaches) so you might adjust your own management styles accordingly.

    Scientific Management Theory

    At the turn of the century, the most notable organizations were large and industrialized.
    Often they included ongoing, routine tasks that manufactured a variety of products.
    Back then, the United States prized scientific and technical matters, including
    careful measurement and specification of activities and results. Management
    tended to be the same. Frederick Taylor developed the “scientific management
    theory” which espoused this careful specification and measurement of all
    organizational tasks. Tasks were standardized as much as possible. Workers were
    rewarded and punished. This approach appeared to work well for organizations
    with assembly lines and other mechanistic, routinized activities.

    Bureaucratic Management Theory

    Max Weber embellished the scientific management theory with his bureaucratic
    theory. Weber focused on dividing organizations into hierarchies, establishing
    strong lines of authority and control. He suggested organizations develop comprehensive
    and detailed standard operating procedures for all routinized tasks.

    Human Relations Movement

    Eventually, unions and government regulations reacted to the rather dehumanizing
    effects of the current theories. More attention was given to individuals and
    their unique capabilities in the organization. A major belief included that
    the organization would prosper if its workers prospered as well. Human Resource
    departments were added to organizations. The behavioral sciences played a strong
    role in helping to understand the needs of workers and how the needs of the
    organization and its workers could be better aligned. Various new theories were
    spawned, many based on the behavioral sciences (some with names like theory
    “X”, “Y” and “Z”).

    Also consider
    and Theories of Organization Development

    New Paradigm in Management

    Driving Forces of Change

    Around the 1960s and on to today, the environment of today’s
    organizations has changed a great deal. A variety of driving forces
    provoke this change. Increasing telecommunications has “shrunk”
    the world substantially. Increasing diversity of workers has brought
    in a wide array of differing values, perspectives and expectations
    among workers. Public consciousness has become much more sensitive
    and demanding that organizations be more socially responsible.
    Much of the third-world countries has joined the global marketplace,
    creating a wider arena for sales and services. Organizations became
    responsible not only to stockholders (those who owned stock) but
    to a wider community of “stakeholders.”

    As a result of the above driving forces, organizations were
    required to adopt a “new paradigm,” or view on the world,
    to be more sensitive, flexible and adaptable to the demands and
    expectations of stakeholder demands. Many organizations have abandoned
    or are abandoning the traditional top-down, rigid and hierarchical
    structures to more “organic” and fluid forms.

    Today’s leaders and/or managers must deal with continual,
    rapid change. Managers faced with a major decision can no longer
    refer back to an earlier developed plan for direction. Management
    techniques must continually notice changes in the environment
    and organization, assess this change and manage change. Managing
    change does not mean controlling it, rather understanding it,
    adapting to it where necessary and guiding it when possible.

    Managers can’t know it all or reference resources for every situation.
    Managers must count on and listen more to their employees. Consequently, new
    forms of organizations are becoming more common, e.g., worker-centered teams,
    self-organizing and self-designing teams, etc.

    Traits of the New Paradigm

    Marilyn Ferguson, in The New Paradigm: Emerging Strategic for
    Leadership and Organizational Change (Michael Ray and Alan Rinzler,
    Eds., 1993, New Consciousness Reader), provides a very concise
    overview of the differences between the old and new paradigm.
    (The following is summarized.)

    Old Paradigm

    New Paradigm

    promote consumption at all costs appropriate consumption
    people to fit jobs jobs to fit people
    imposed goals, top-down decision making autonomy encouraged, worker participation
    fragmentation in work and roles cross-fertilization by specialists seeing wide relevance
    identification with job identity transcends job description
    clock model of company recognition of uncertainty
    aggression, competition cooperation
    work and play separate blurring of work and play
    manipulation and dominance cooperation with nature
    struggle for stability sense of change, of becoming
    quantitative qualitative as well as quantitative
    strictly economic motives spiritual values transcend material gain
    polarized transcends polarities
    short-sighted ecologically sensitive
    rational rational and intuitive
    emphasis on short-term solutions recognition that long-range efficiency must take in to account
    harmonious work environment
    centralized operations decentralized operations when possible
    runaway, unbridled technology appropriate technology
    allopathic treatment of symptoms attempt to understand the whole, locate deep underlying causes
    of disharmony

    Contemporary Theories

    Contingency Theory

    Basically, contingency theory asserts that when managers make a decision,
    they must take into account all aspects of the current situation and act on
    those aspects that are key to the situation at hand. Basically, it’s the
    approach that “it depends.” For example, the continuing effort to
    identify the best leadership or management style might now conclude that the
    best style depends on the situation. If one is leading troops in the Persian
    Gulf, an autocratic style is probably best (of course, many might argue here,
    too). If one is leading a hospital or university, a more participative and facilitative
    leadership style is probably best.

    Systems Theory

    Systems theory has had a significant effect on management science and understanding
    organizations. First, let’s look at “what is a system?” A system
    is a collection of part unified to accomplish an overall goal. If one part of
    the system is removed, the nature of the system is changed as well. For example,
    a pile of sand is not a system. If one removes a sand particle, you’ve
    still got a pile of sand. However, a functioning car is a system. Remove the
    carburetor and you’ve no longer got a working car. A system can be looked
    at as having inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes. Systems share feedback
    among each of these four aspects of the systems.

    Let’s look at an organization. Inputs would include resources such as
    raw materials, money, technologies and people. These inputs go through a process
    where they’re planned, organized, motivated and controlled, ultimately
    to meet the organization’s goals. Outputs would be products or services
    to a market. Outcomes would be, e.g., enhanced quality of life or productivity
    for customers/clients, productivity. Feedback would be information from human
    resources carrying out the process, customers/clients using the products, etc.
    Feedback also comes from the larger environment of the organization, e.g., influences
    from government, society, economics, and technologies. This overall system framework
    applies to any system, including subsystems (departments, programs, etc.) in
    the overall organization.

    Systems theory may seem quite basic. Yet, decades of management training and
    practices in the workplace have not followed this theory. Only recently, with
    tremendous changes facing organizations and how they operate, have educators
    and managers come to face this new way of looking at things. This interpretation
    has brought about a significant change (or paradigm shift) in the way management
    studies and approaches organizations.

    The effect of systems theory in management is that writers, educators, consultants,
    etc. are helping managers to look at the organization from a broader perspective.
    Systems theory has brought a new perspective for managers to interpret patterns
    and events in the workplace. They recognize the various parts of the organization,
    and, in particular, the interrelations of the parts, e.g., the coordination
    of central administration with its programs, engineering with manufacturing,
    supervisors with workers, etc. This is a major development. In the past, managers
    typically took one part and focused on that. Then they moved all attention to
    another part. The problem was that an organization could, e.g., have a wonderful
    central administration and wonderful set of teachers, but the departments didn’t
    synchronize at all. See the category Systems

    Chaos Theory

    As chaotic and random as world events seem today, they seem as chaotic in
    organizations, too. Yet for decades, managers have acted on the basis that organizational
    events can always be controlled. A new theory (or some say “science”),
    chaos theory, recognizes that events indeed are rarely controlled. Many chaos
    theorists (as do systems theorists) refer to biological systems when explaining
    their theory. They suggest that systems naturally go to more complexity, and
    as they do so, these systems become more volatile (or susceptible to cataclysmic
    events) and must expend more energy to maintain that complexity. As they expend
    more energy, they seek more structure to maintain stability. This trend continues
    until the system splits, combines with another complex system or falls apart
    entirely. Sound familiar? This trend is what many see as the trend in life,
    in organizations and the world in general.

    Also consider
    Nature and New Organizational Structures and Design



    Simply put, planning is selecting priorities and results (goals, objectives,
    etc.) and how those results will achieved. Planning typically includes identifying
    goals, objectives, methods, resources needed to carry out methods, responsibilities
    and dates for completion of tasks. Examples of planning are strategic planning,
    business planning, project planning, staffing planning, advertising and promotions

    Making — selecting the best course of action

    Planning — Basics (establishing
    goals and how they will be reached)

    Solving (analyzing alternatives and selecting a course of action)

    Various Kinds of Plans


    Organizing can be viewed as the activities to collect and configure resources
    in order to implement plans in a highly effective and efficient fashion. Organizing
    is a broad set of activities, and often considered one of the major functions
    of management. Therefore, there are a wide variety of kinds of organizing, as
    listed below.

    Various Kinds of Organizing

    Yourself (your office, files, etc.)

    / Designing Tasks, Jobs or Roles


    Various Types of Groups

    Communities (typically a nonprofit goal)

    a New Business (whether for-profit or nonprofit)

    to Reorganize a Current Organization

    Human Resources Management

    Staffing (planning,
    specifying, sourcing, selecting, etc.)

    and Development


    Computers, Internet
    and Web



    Simply put, leading is establishing direction and influencing to follow that
    direction, and you might be leading yourself, another individual, a group or
    an organization. There are a wide variety of theories, models and styles of
    leadership, as well as areas of focus, each of which requires somewhat different
    skills in leadership.

    Core Competencies to Lead in Any Situation

    Yourself (career & and personal development, personal productivity &

    Another Individual (setting goals, methods of influence, building trust, managing
    conflict, etc.)

    Groups (facilitation, meeting management, group problem solving, managing conflict,

    Organizations (strategic analysis, strategic direction, org’l communications,

    Also consider
    What is Leadership?
    How Do I Lead?

    Controlling / Coordinating

    Basically, organizational control (or the term coordination, which is often
    preferred) is assessing if you are doing what you wanted to be doing or not,
    and if not, then deciding what course of action to take. It is the part of planning
    after you have decided what you wanted to be doing. The manner in which the
    coordinating is done depends on the management style preferred by the organization.
    Below are some of the major approaches to organizational control and coordination.

    Feedback Mechanisms

    Evaluations (many

    Business Research

    Financial Management

    Finances (For-Profit)
    Finances (Nonprofit)


    Team Performance Management

    Legal and Taxation Compliance

    Laws, Issues, Topics, etc.




    Organizational Performance

    Performance Management (balanced scorecard, TQM, etc.)


    Laws, Topics and Issues (understanding major laws and regulations)

    Performance Management (setting goals, feedback, performance reviews, etc.)

    Ethics Management
    in the Workplace (ensuring highly ethical standards and behaviors)

    Personnel Polices
    (ensuring compliance to legal and organizational rules and regulations)

    Supervision (personnel
    policies, employee performance management, training, etc.)


    Quality Management
    (quality control, benchmarking, continuous improvement, etc.)

    Risk, Safety and Liabilities

    Crisis Management
    Employee Wellness
    Programs (diversity management, safety, ergonomics, etc.)

    Risk Management


    Suggested Core Competencies and Resources to
    Manage in Any Situation

    Various experts would disagree on what skills and practices should be required
    for managers in organizations. Various roles and skills are listed throughout
    the next sections in this topic. However, it would be difficult to undertake
    them without having the following core skills.


    Also consider
    Core Competencies to Lead in Any Situation

    How to Manage Yourself

    It is well understood among experienced managers that you cannot effectively
    lead and manage others unless you first can effectively lead and manage yourself.
    That can be quite difficult especially for new managers, when starting a group
    or organization, or when the group or organization is undergoing significant
    change. Basics
    for New Managers and Supervisors to Management Themselves

    Also consider
    Intelligence (managing your emotions)

    Yourself (this subtopic is in “Personal Productivity”)



    Career Development (resumes,
    networking, interviewing, etc.)

    Yourself (career & and personal development, personal productivity &

    How to Manage a Group

    Managing a group typically includes getting clear on the purpose and goals
    of the group, ensuring that it has clear roles in leadership and sufficient
    resources to work toward its goals, establishing means for making group decisions
    and solving group problems as well as communicating among members, and that
    members of the group can work well together.

    Common Types
    of Groups
    Skills in Facilitators
    Team Building
    to Conducting Effective Meetings

    Group Performance

    Also consider
    All About Facilitation

    How to Manage an Organization

    Managing an overall organization is typically a cyclical and systematic approach
    of clarifying its purpose and priorities (via strategic planning), assessing
    the current activities in the organization, changing and re-organizing the organization
    if needed to more effectively address priorities, and then continuing the management
    the performance of the organization toward those priorities.

    Select Library Topics from “Diagnosing” Yourself, Group or Organization
    Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents
    for Organizational Design

    Performance Management — Evaluating and Improving Organizations

    How to Manage Nonprofit-Specific Activities

    There is often a misunderstanding that nonprofit organizations are very different
    than for-profit organizations. However, the differences between organizations
    is determined by its life cycle, culture and strategic priorities, much more
    than by the nature of its services. However, the following activities are somewhat
    unique to the needs of a nonprofit management and governance.

    Fundraising and Grantwriting

    Nonprofit management must engage in fundraising in order to meet the fiscal
    needs of their organization. Generally, fundraising is not one of an executive
    director’s favorite tasks. It can be an all-consuming activity, tapping an executive
    director’s creative and social energy. Executive directors are constantly challenged
    to strike a balance between the time they devote to fundraising and program
    management. Too little attention to one area can leave an organization bereft
    of cash or quality services. See
    All About
    Nonprofit Fundraising

    Governance (Boards of Directors)

    Generally, this term refers to the nature and operations of the board of directors.
    Some people use the term to also refer to the role of chief executive as well.
    Nonprofit management — particularly chief executives — must have strong skills
    in working with an often highly diverse collection of board members, each of
    whom is typically a volunteer to the nonprofit. These skills in working with
    a board are often not taught in management schools and, instead, must be developed
    over time “on the job”. See
    All About Boards of Directors

    Nonprofit Budgeting and Accounting

    Nonprofits are unique entities created to provide a public service, rather
    than generate profit. Therefore, nonprofits can enjoy special tax-exempt status
    with the IRS. Nonprofits also receive grants and other forms of donations to
    support their operation. These special features unique to nonprofits require
    highly customized forms of budgeting and accounting, not taught in general management
    schools. See
    All About Financial
    Management in Nonprofits

    Program Planning and Management

    Nonprofits typically deliver ongoing services in the form of organizational
    programs. Therefore, it’s important that nonprofit management understand the
    basic principles of program development and evaluation. See
    Program Planning
    and Management

    Volunteer Programs

    Many nonprofit organizations rely to a great extent on the use of volunteers.
    Volunteers should be managed much like any other human resource. There should
    be staffing planning, recruitment, job descriptions, suitable policies and risk
    management measures, some form of performance management, etc. Performance management
    includes setting suitable goals, evaluating performance, providing appropriate
    rewards or actions to terminate services. See
    Developing and
    Managing Volunteer Programs

    How Can You Improve Your Management Skills?

    You can improve your management skills in a rather informal approach or in
    a carefully designed and systematic approach. The latter is often referred to
    as a management development program. Here are guidelines for either approach.

    How to
    Design Your Management Development Program

    General Resources

    Glossary of Business Terms A-Z
    Three Management Approaches
    Management – a General Theory
    Is Hard Work: Avoid These Four Mistakes

    Management: Should You Break the Rules?

    Micro Managing: Start Smart Managing


    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Management

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs
    that have posts related to Management. Scan down the blog’s page to see various
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    the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog.
    The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    Leadership Blog

    Library’s Supervision Blog

    For the Category of Management:

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