Management by Objectives Increases Effectiveness

What does it mean to be a manager? While the skills to be an effective manager are many and the exact mix of skills necessary will vary from job to job and sector to sector, most writers on business and management agree that successful management involves the planning, organising, leading and controlling of resources, including personnel, to efficiently and effectively achieve organisational aims.

If you do any of these things, then you are a manager, whether or not the word “manager” appears in your official job title. However, many managers, especially ones new in the role, don’t feel well-prepared for the job and consequently, need advice and guidance in how to begin to fulfill their new role in a way that is effective and satisfies the requirements of superiors.

Know that, although there are no absolute measures of managerial effectiveness, nevertheless there is broad agreement that when a manager satisfies the aims and goals of the organisation he or she works for, effectiveness has been achieved. The problem is in defining exactly what these aims and goals are and then laying out a format of standard operating procedures that managers can follow to become more effective in achieving them.

One such way is the KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, a well-known approach where the job requirements of a management role are specified in a list of qualities, skills and outcomes written down on paper, with important ones subdivided into smaller subgoals with a numerical target attached, such as number of units sold, percentage increase achieved or number of times completed in order for the manager’s performance to be deemed satisfactory.

In particular, one of the most famous versions of the KPI solution is the “Management by Objectives” approach of Peter Drucker, the renowned writer on management issues. This is where the aims and goals of the organisation are arranged and presented as “Objectives” that must be fulfilled and then managers are evaluated on how well they contributed to the achievement of those objectives.

The downside to this approach is that it is often very difficult to apply in the real-life workplace. Typically, many problems arise and a whole range of issues complicate the achievement of these objectives, which can sometimes suggest that the idea itself is not all that great. However, the general consensus in business is that it is felt to be a practical construct and a useful description of “how things ought to be done”, even if things do not actually always end up being done exactly as the model describes. So, despite its difficulty in application, Drucker’s Management by Objectives remains an excellent way to envisage the goals of an organisation and create a template of performance for managers to strive for, while also acting as a map that guides the organisation in the achievement of its aims and the development of its future business trajectory.

In addition, Drucker also delineates eight practices that all effective managers follow -

1/ They ask “what needs to be done”

2/ They ask “what is right for the enterprise”

3/ They develop action plans

4/ They take responsibility for decisions

5/ They take responsibility for communicating

6/ They focus on opportunities

7/ They run productive meetings

8/ They think and say “we” rather than “I”

These eight practices of effective managers can be grouped into 3 areas – the first two practices give them the knowledge they need to do their job; the next four allow them to change this knowledge into action; the last two make sure that the whole team or organisation is responsible and accountable (not just the individual manager).

So a commitment by organisations to implement, at least as a broad framework, Drucker’s Management by Objectives and a commitment by managers to perform the eight practices described above will lead to greater movement towards organisational goals and a marked increase in managerial effectiveness.