Management Principles and Insights

Management Principles and Insights

We've learned that we must spend as much time on management as is necessary, and only with the remaining time may we engage in technical work. We regularly discuss technical principles and insights. Thus we should be doing the same thing for management.

The intent is to consider new principles on a regular basis. They're intended to provoke thought.

Some current favourite references, excerpts of which follow, are:

  13 Fatal Errors Managers Make and
  How You Can Avoid Them
    by W. Steven Brown
  Order from

  Winnie-the-Pooh on Management
    by Roger E. Allen
  Order from

  The One Minute Manager
    by Kenneth Blanchard, Spencer Johnson
  Order from

There's no intent to spend a lot of time discussing these at meetings, unless of course it's warranted :-). E-mail may be the best way in some cases. We can ask ourselves to what extent we agree with a principle/definition, and then to what extent we're adhering to it, and how we can be better at it. Anyone can submit a principle for consideration.

Basic Principles of the UW Workplace

Management principles should be considered in the context of University policies and guidelines, including the Basic Principles of the Workplace:

  1. Focus on the situation, issue, or behaviour, not the person.
  2. Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others.
  3. Maintain constructive relationships.
  4. Take initiative to make things better.
  5. Lead by example.


Before we can consider management principles, we need to have an idea of what management is.

The art and science of directing effort and resources
so that the established objectives of an enterprise
may be attained in accordance with accepted policies.

The Six Functions in the Work of a Manager

  1. Establishing Objectives
  2. Organizing
  3. Motivating
  4. Developing People
  5. Communicating
  6. Measurement and Analysis

The most important thing a manager can do is to pay regular and careful attention to doing the very best job that can be done carrying out the six basic functions of a manager.


The first rule for establishing objectives is that they must be derived from and be in accordance with the basic purpose or mission of the organization. In other words, one has to know what the organization was set up to do, what its business really is. Then you can design objectives in any particular situation so they will make a contribution to accomplishing that purpose. Without a clear understanding of what the organization's mission is, there is no way a manager can decide what his objectives should be.

When top management hasn't established what the purpose is, the organization will almost always get into trouble.

You can't do an objective or a goal. The objective must be able to be translated into specific work and assignments that will be carried out to reach the goal.

The objective must concentrate on the really important things so that the best use is made of the resources available since no one and no organization has all the resources needed to do everything.

There should always be multiple objectives, because in any endeavour they are a variety of needs to be balanced, and that requires more than one objective.

Objectives must make sense. Few individuals will work very well to achieve something when they perceive that failure is preordained.

Objectives should not be cast in concrete, since they are based on a guess about the future.


When managers organize, they analyze the activities and the decisions that are needed to meet the objectives. They develop a step-by-step plan and put it in writing so that everyone connected with the endeavour can refer to it.

The plan must tell when each step is to be done and who is responsible for doing it. They then classify the work and divide it into manageable jobs. According to the requirements of those jobs, they select individuals whose experiences, talents, and abilities match those requirements and assigns them. Then they review the plan with the individuals, answer their objections, and incorporate their suggestions, when they are appropriate, into the plan. They then make certain that each individual understands the plan and knows what they have to do.

If a manager finds a plan is not working, it should be changed as soon as possible.


None of these theories is believed to apply to all situations all of the time.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs was initially described in

A Theory of Human Motivation
Abraham Maslow - 1943

As humans meet their more basic needs they seek to satisfy successfully higher needs, that occupy a hierarchy, often depicted as a 5 level pyramid. Higher needs only come into focus when lower needs are mostly or completely met. From the basic to higher needs they are:

  • physiological: breathing, food, water, shelter
  • safety: security of employment, revenues, resources
  • social: love, belonging, friendship, comradeship, family
  • self-esteem: respect by others, and oneself; recognition by others
  • self-actualization: making the most of unique abilities; striving to be the best we can be.

This theory implies that management motivates by helping staff advance in the above hierarchy.

Theories X & Y

The Human Side of Enterprise
Douglas McGregor
MIT Sloan School of Management

describes two theories of workplace motivation, Theory X and Theory Y.


Theory X Assumptions - Authoritarian Management Style
  • People have an inherent dislike for work and will avoid it whenever possible
  • People must be coerced, controlled, directed, or threatened with punishment in order to get them to achieve the organizational objectives.
  • People prefer to be directed, do not want responsibility, and have little or no ambition.
  • People seek security above all else.
Thus management must provide
  • close supervision
  • comprehensive controls
  • a hierarchical structure, with narrow spans of control at each level

Theory Y Assumptions - Participative Management Style
  • Work is as natural as rest or play.
  • People will exercise self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organizational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.
  • Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.
  • People usually accept and often seek responsibility.
  • Imagination, ingenuity and creativity are widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.
  • The intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilized.
  • People have the desire to be imaginative and creative.

Thus management should remove the barriers that prevent employees from fully actualizing their potential.

Theory Z


Maslow on Management
Abraham H. Maslow

created by adding extensive commentaries to the original
Eupsychian Management.


Theory Z: How American management can Meet the Japanese Challenge'
Dr. William Ouchi
Professor of Management
UCLA, Los Angeles


The name applied to the so-called Japanese management style. It focuses on increasing employee loyalty by providing a job for life, with a strong focus on the well-being of the employee, both on and off the job. Dr. William Ouchi says that theory Z management promotes

  • stable employment
  • high productivity
  • high employee morale and satisfaction

Herzberg Theory of Motivators aka Two Factor Theory

Herzberg proposed the Motivation-Hygiene Theory, also known as the Two factor theory (1959) of job satisfaction. According to his theory, people are influenced by two factors:

  • Satisfaction, which is primarily the result of the motivator factors. These factors help increase satisfaction but have little effect on dissatisfaction.
  • Dissatisfaction is primarily the result of hygiene factors. These factors, if absent or inadequate, cause dissatisfaction, but their presence has little effect on long-term satisfaction. Hertzberg called them hygiene factors because they prevent dissatisfaction only when present instead of increasing satisfaction; just as hygiene prevents disease only when present rather than increasing well-being.


Hygiene Factors
  • Pay and Benefits
  • Company Policy and Administration
  • Relationships with co-workers
  • Physical Environment
  • Supervision
  • Status
  • Job Security


These factors have long-term positive effects on job performance. They are:

  • achievement
  • recognition
  • the work itself
  • responsibility
  • advancement
  • growth

Expectancy Theory

Victor Vroom
Business School
Yale School of Management


The theory assumes that behaviour results from conscious choices among alternatives whose purpose it is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

People can be motivated if they believe

  • there is a positive correlation between effort and performance
  • favorable performances result in a desirable reward
  • the reward satisfies an important need
  • the desire to satisfy the need is strong enough to make the effort worthwhile

The theory is based upon these beliefs:

Valence refers to the emotional orientations people hold with respect to outcomes [rewards]; The depth of the want of an employee for extrinsic [money, promotion, time-off, benefits] or intrinsic [satisfaction] rewards. Management must discover what employees value.

Employees have different expectations and levels of confidence about what they are capable of doing. Management must discover what resources, training, or supervision employees need.

The perception of employees whether they will actually get what they desire even if it has been promised by a manager. Management must ensure that promises of rewards are fulfilled and that employees are aware of that.

Other Motivators

Apparently multiple studies have shown that while money is a fine motivator for simple physical tasks, it's a negative motivator for work that involves thought. For that, motivating factors are:

  • autonomy - freedom to act
  • mastery - getting better at something
  • purpose - one to believe in

Developing People

Management has a major purpose: to provide for the continuation of business over time, personnel change, and absence. Short term absence should not have an effect, long term absence should not cripple. The test of managers is not what they can do, but what staff can do without them.

Not a sage on a stage, but a guide on the side - Alison King

The objective is to enable each individual to develop their talents and abilities to the fullest so that they can be effective in their work with the organization. Ideally the objective is to achieve excellence within the limits of those talents and abilities and in accord with the individual's wishes.

The challenge is that change usually has to come from within. So management can at best provide an environment that encourages people to develop themselves.


  • To communicate there must be an exchange of information.
  • All information exchanged should be as clear and complete as possible.
  • The information should be meaningful to the individual who is receiving it.
  • Where practical, get confirmation that the message you are communicating has been understood.
  • Information can be given in many ways. The more ways you use, the clearer and more believable it will be. However, the message must be the same in all ways. It is vital to be consistent. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

A too common occurrence is the belief that repetition always increases understanding. For example, Dick says something to Jane. Jane replies. It seems to Dick that Jane must not have understood, for if she had, she would surely not had said what she did. So Dick says the same thing again. Meanwhile, Jane is wondering why Dick didn't understand her brilliant retort. So she repeats it, as the only way he wouldn't have understood is if he hadn't heard her. This continues for a while. Frustrations rise. This leads to the need for a reasoned explanation of what one is trying to communicate.

Another View of Management

Management is the skill of attaining predetermined objectives with and through the voluntary cooperation and effort of other people.

There are three key words in the above:

Management is a skill because we may learn management techniques and, through practice, perfect them.

Management must focus on results. It's not the skill of working hard. The effective manager is the one who gets the job done.

If we manage (...) successfully, and if we want to get the voluntary cooperation and effort of our employees, (...) must meet the needs of those employees.

A Simplified View

From the classic One Minute Manager we're given three fundamentals:

One Minute Goals

  • Agree on your goals.
  • See what good behaviour looks like.
  • Write out each of your goals on a single page, using less than 250 words.
  • Read and re-read each goal, which requires only a minute or so each time you do it.
  • Take a minute once in a while out of your day to look at your performance, and
  • See whether or not your behaviour matches your goal.

One Minute Praising

The One Minute Praising works well when you:

  • Tell people up front that you are going to let them know how they are doing.
  • Praise people immediately.
  • Tell people what they did right -- be specific.
  • Tell people how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there.
  • Stop for a moment of silence to let them "feel" how good you feel.
  • Encourage them to do more of the same.
  • Shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success in the organization.

One Minute Reprimands

The One Minute Reprimand works well when you:

  • Tell people beforehand that you are going to let them know how they are doing and in no uncertain terms.

The first half of the reprimand:

  • Reprimand people immediately.
  • Tell people what they did wrong - be specific.
  • Tell people how you feel about what they did wrong -- and in no uncertain terms.
  • Stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them "feel" how you feel.

The second half of the reprimand:

  • Shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are honestly on their side.
  • Remind them how much you value them.
  • Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation.
  • Realize that when the reprimand is over, it's over.

And Some Reminders

In addition to the above fundamentals, there are several reminders:

  • People Who Feel Good About Themselves
    Produce Good Results.

  • Help People Reach Their Full Potential;
    Catch Them Doing Something Right.

  • The Best Minute I Spend
    Is The One I invest In People.

  • Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions

  • Everyone Is A Potential Winner.
    Some People Are Disguised As Losers,
    Don't Let Their Appearances Fool You.

  • Take a Minute:
    Look At Your Goals
    Look At Your Performance
    See If Your Behaviour Matches Your Goals.

  • We Are Not Just Our Behaviour,
    We Are The Person Managing Our Behaviour

  • When You Touch, Don't Take

  • Goals Begin Behaviours,
    Consequences Maintain Behaviours

Some Interesting Reading

2011/03: the psychology of goals.

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Topic revision: r24 - 2011-03-29 - BillInce
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