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Unit 7 Improving Managerial Skills within a Construction Environment

 


 

Introduction

 

7.1 Managing Oneself

 

7.2 Managing Others

 

7.3 Communications

 

 


 

 

Information and Guidance is available from the ‘Student Area’.

 


 

 

Learning outcome: On completion the learner will know how to manage other people.

 


 

 
IMPORTANT
 
An assignment is being used for this Unit.
 
Details on how to produce the assignment is included on the form, which you should down-load from the column on the left by clicking on "Assignment for Unit 7" and from the “Submitting Assignment” Page from the “Student Area”.
 

Content

7.2.1 Process of Management

7.2.2 Teams / Groups

7.2.3 Negotiation

 
 

Book

There is no recommended book for this section

7.2.1 Process of Management

According to the Concise English Dictionary management can be described as:

           'the technique, practice, or science of managing or controlling'

However, it’s not really quite as simple as that. Management covers a very wide range of activities such as:

General management of the organisation

 

  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Production or Service
  • Personnel/Human Resources
  • Others (such as Research & Development)

 

Regardless of whether the organisation is large or small, managers need to be conscious of its short, medium and long term objectives. The techniques that can be used to identify what is required to be done will be based on the experience of the manager and of those around him/her. A number of simple techniques like SWOT Analysis, (which is a comparison of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved of whatever activity is being looked at) can be used. At the other extreme, some very complex computer software is available which looks at business simulation and modelling. Managers should use whatever technique they find most useful; but if at all possible they should avoid 'gut reaction' as this technique is not reliable.

 

The Development of Management

In the early part of the 20th century management theory was still in its infancy. Among the first theorists was F W Taylor who created the idea of Scientific Management, and Max Weber who introduced an academic approach to managing organisations. Later, two authors developed and modernised these 'scientific management' themes. Henri Fayol listed 5 specific management operations, and this was added to by L F Urwick; whose list of 7 processes are now among the most commonly accepted basic management principles.

 

Management Processes

1. Forecasting

This is the Prediction of the future as it will affect the company or the enterprise. It may be long or short term and depends on the level of management considered. A Board of Directors may consider types of activities to be undertaken over the next 5-10 years. However, Line Supervisors may consider what tasks are to be done in the next few days.

The time-scale over which forecasting is developed depends on the type of activity the organisation is involved in, market conditions and the tools available to assist the manager.

Forecasting can be a very imprecise activity; the greater the length of time it is stretched over the greater the impreciseness.

Tools used to assist in forecasting are: Market Research, Operational Research, Industrial Psychology and Computer Simulation. However, these are only tools. It is the manager’s ability to interpret the information obtained from the use of these tools which is important.

 

2. Planning

Once the future has been forecasted, the desirable has to be achieved and the undesirable avoided. This is the purpose of planning. Planning is the HOW of the future whereas forecasting is the WHAT. Ideas of policy created by the forecast are translated into instructions for action in the plan.

Planning assumes alternative courses of action are available, and it involves the selection of the best course of action for the conditions which exist. A good plan will lay down broad principles, focus attention on objectives and ensure procedures are constantly adjusted to be consistent with organisational objectives. It must never be rigid, but should incorporate enough flexibility to be amenable to change.

The process of planning is synonymous with forecasting. An accurate forecast is essential if reliable plans are to be produced. Planning is not just the function carried out by a contractors Planning Department, it covers all aspects of an organisation, and can be long or short term depending on the position of the person carrying it out.

Planning must take into account feedback data from previous plans, and therefore relies heavily on the Controlling function.

 

3. Organising

 

When planning is complete it should be possible to see:

 

  • The total job to be done.
  • The total resources available.

 

Organising is the process by which the total job is broken down into convenient and appropriate work units and an allocation of resources to these tasks is made. It involves the allocation of all resources to the task, not just people.

The process of organising comprises of:

 

  • Defining and distributing the responsibilities and duties of various personnel in the organisation.
  • Recording types of formal relationships that exist between personnel; the pattern of accountability and paths of communication.
  • The formulation and installation of standard procedures, preferred methods of working and operating instructions.

 

 

 

 

4. Motivating

This is essentially a social process involving the functions of cultivating morale, inspiring loyalty and producing a climate conducive to the fulfilment of the tasks to be undertaken.

When we looked at motivation in Unit 6.1 we discussed the needs of people and how their needs will vary from person to person.  Some work only because they need the money in order to provide for themselves and their families. Others are ambitious and want to improve themselves and to get promoted in their job. The way you motivate someone and get the best from them will involve ensuring that you understand the person.

People are an organisation's most important asset. Management must therefore ensure that individuals or groups within the enterprise have the necessary enthusiasm to work and fulfil its plans. Motivators need to be designed to satisfy the needs of the work force and the organisation; either directly or indirectly.

Needs can be divided into:

 

  • Economic Wages, job-security and job-continuity, pensions, and future prospects.
  • Social The work environment, relationship with other employees or supervisors, acceptance.
  • Creative Achievement, job satisfaction.

 

Motivators can be long or short term, and are dependent on the aspirations of the employee. They may be financial or abstract. They can be positive or negative; since the possibility of high wages or unemployment are equally effective as a motivator.

Motivation of employees must begin at the top. Employees need confidence in their superiors before they can be inspired by them, they also prefer to be led rather than be driven.

 

5. Controlling

The object of control is to check current achievements against predetermined targets, and adjust deployment of resources to attain desired objectives.

 

  • A good control system should establish:
  • Realistic standards in terms of output, cost and quality.
  • A good system of measuring and checking current performance against plans, goals and objectives.
  • Action to be taken quickly by someone with the necessary authority.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Co-ordinating

Co-ordination is the bringing together of people and the activities they perform, in order to achieve maximum efficiency and harmony. It is an essential product of the organising function and must be achieved throughout the structure of the organisation. Co-ordination is not simply a function that can be imposed from above.

It is also useful to have facilities for horizontal co-ordination existing within an environment that provides the free exchange of ideas, information and opinion. It is vital that no part of the team or enterprise should work in total isolation.

 

7. Communicating

Communication is a common factor that links the other processes, allowing them to function effectively. It involves the passing on of plans and instructions from executives to supervisors, the co-ordination of activities, the control of operations by supervisors, and the feedback of results.

This is a two way process; it should flow up as well as down. Managers, therefore, require the ability to listen as well as speak, and to be able to write effectively. It provides a medium for the circulation of knowledge, ideas, decisions and reactions, and should ideally permit the free expression of suggestions at all levels of the enterprise.

Communication must be concise, unambiguous and clearly understood. This is looked at in greater detail in Unit 7.3.

 

 

 

 

 

Task 7.2.1 Management Processes

 

Outline the Management Processes to the establishment of a construction Contract.

 

Word Guide: 300 – 400

 

 

 

Organisational Theory

In order to manage and control and to be effective, managers should take into account the following four factors:

 

1.         Responsibility

This involves managers and supervisors being held accountable for the success or failure of their activities and objectives. There should be a clear definition of responsibilities within the organisation, supplemented where necessary with delegated authority so that subordinates are aware of what they must answer for.

A clear definition of responsibilities allows the people concerned to see where they stand, and enables colleagues and superiors to establish what are and what are not their responsibilities.

Responsibility should be absolute at each level, and superiors must be accountable for the actions of their subordinates. Therefore, the responsibilities and limitations of normal decision making for each position should be clearly defined in the employees job description.

 

2.         Delegation

This is the handing over, by a manager, to another person within the organisation a part of his or her task, but without surrendering overall responsibility. It is not simply instructing another person to do a job. Delegation implies that having set an objective the manager allows the other to go ahead (having been given broad terms and guidance), with the minimum of interference.

At every level, managers should delegate tasks to their subordinates. A managers job, therefore, becomes one of co-ordinating the activities of those who report to them.

Efficiency in delegating authority depends on:

 

  • Knowing what, and when, to delegate
  • The capabilities of subordinates so that you can delegate effectively
  • Access by subordinates to information necessary to make decisions
  • Incentives to subordinates, to decide what is best for the organisation and not just for the individuals or groups.

 

 

 

3.         Accountability

This is the obligation of subordinates to answer to managers for the exercise of authority in line with delegated authority. It is an agreed obligation to produce results in terms of objectives achieved, and it often implies reward for success and some form of censure for failure.

 

4.         Authority

This is the ability or right to require the action of others.

There are four basic forms of authority:

 

  • Positional - the status or standing of a person dependent on their office or appointment.
  • Technical - as above, and dependent on knowledge.
  • Charismatic - as above, and dependent on personality.
  • Seniority - as above, but depending on age or length of time in the job or organisation.

Some authority is acquired by most managers on their appointment, and are inherently part of the post itself. Most managers acquire authority by virtue of the job they hold. Employees will, therefore, carry out reasonable tasks set by managers, as this is a normal response to traditional working relationships. However, if a task falls outside the normal authority limits, then charismatic authority may become very important.

Most people are willing to tackle difficult, or even unpleasant, jobs when the manager is recognised and accepted as their leader. Managers and supervisors should be selected not merely on their seniority or skill, but also on their strength of personality and qualities of leadership.

Authority by itself does not necessarily bring power. Power is only acquired through gaining the respect of both colleagues and subordinates. Problems of 'internal-politics' will arise if the nominal leader is authorised from above, while the 'real' leader is a different person who is accepted from below.

As a simple rule of thumb, nobody should be given authority unless responsible and accountable for the results of their actions.

 

 

 

 

 

Task 7.2.2 Organisational Theory

 

Relate Organisational Theory to the role of site manager.

 

Word Guide: 300 – 400

 

 
 

 

 

7.2.2 Teams / Groups

A team is a group of people in which the individuals share a common aim and in which the jobs and skills of each member fit in with those of the other members. The technical skills and personal abilities of its constituent members should be complimentary. In this unit the term Teams and Groups are interchangeable.

Work groups may be either temporary or permanent. A temporary team is formed for a specific purpose which disbands once the purpose or task has been achieved. Task forces and project groups belong to this category. A permanent team remains in existence and new members are recruited to replace members who leave.

The word team conjures up for most people the sports team, football, and cricket: Although it actually comes from the Anglo-Saxon meaning family. Originally it was applied to a number of oxen harnessed together in a row, as it was found that they pulled better if they were related. This then was used for horses and then people who were involved in a concerted action.

 

Reasons for a Team

The first thing to establish prior to forming a team is to determine if it is needed. This will incorporate determining:

 

  • What tasks will the team carry out
  • Why this cannot be done by an individual
  • How many people will the team require
  • What skills will be required    

 

 

A team will often evolve due to an individual finding that the task he is doing is too big for him alone, in the time that he has available, and will therefore seek help.

We need to consider how to:

 

  • get the right people in the team;
  • get them to work together;
  • raise their standard of performance.

 

Any member of a group must have the desire and ability to work effectively as part of a team.

Members in an effective team must be able to be flexible and carry out a number of functions.

 

Formation

The formation of the group will normally involve the original person, who frequently is its leader, obtaining additional people, he will then have to get to know their abilities and characteristics.

The most important factor in the successes of a team is selecting the right personnel, although it is probable that some restraints will be placed on the team former in the places he can recruit his team from, the type or grade he can have as well as the constraints of time and finance under which he can operate.

The abilities which teams members must have will depend on the tasks to be undertaken, though consideration will be given to the following headings:

Technical or professional competence - the person must possess the skill of knowledge which will be needed by the team.

Ability to work as a team member - eliminate people who are non-workers or who are disruptive. If a person is not motivated he can have a negative effect on the other members of the team. Harmony in a group is fragile enough without inserting a disruptive personality.

Desirable personal attributes - team members must be able to get on with other people, especially within the team. There manner and behaviour must be an acceptable norm for the other members of the team. Desirable attributes may be the ability to listen to other people’s ideas and build on their contribution. This will mean someone who can share their resources and their ideas and any credit or praise. People will always work better with people they like.      

 

It is advisable to see a person in action within a team situation before they are recruited or to have them on recommendation by other members who have worked with them.

A team may be formed by the leader who is able to select the personnel he requires, alternatively, the team may be formed for you as in the case of the armed forces who post people into positions.

 

Development

There are four stages in the development of a group, these are known as Tuckman’s four-stage model and involves:

 

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing

 

 

 

 
 

Group Structure

Task Activity

Forming

Lays the foundation for the group, its standards of behaviour, the role of its leader and members.

The task is determined and how it will be approached.

Storming

Conflicts develop between sub-groups. The leaders authority or competence may be challenged.

The feasibility or value of the task is challenged.

Norming

The group begins to harmonise and form as a unity. The norms accepted by the group emerge and members begin to support each other.

Co-operation begins between members. Plans are developed to achieve the task. Communication between members develops.

Performing

A group structure develops and roles are acquired by members in order that the task can be worked on.

The work on the task is developed.

 

 

People tend to work better in a team, both from the sociological and from the efficiency point of view, for we are, after all, increasing the abilities, brain power and experience which is available.

 

Requirements

Teams need to be able to:

 

  • Co-operate
  • Co-ordinate
  • Communicate

 

They also need tolerance, dedication and diplomacy.

It is important that any group establishes working relationships with other individuals, groups and the organisation of which it is part.

A group should:

 

  • Be able to make decisions
  • Be cohesive
  • Have good morale
  • Have a good atmosphere
  • Have acceptable standards
  • Have acceptable procedures

 

Within a group there is both a formal and informal structure. The formal structure is that which is recognised by all outside the group and represents the division of labour amongst the group members, ie. rank, appointment. The informal structure determines how individuals exert their influence on the group’s activities according to their prestige, power or persuasiveness.

The effective and efficient working together of all concerned in a venture maximises the chances of success. Working in groups also benefits the less able as they will have the benefit of the other members contribution who are more knowledgeable and skilled.

Teambuilding also involves allowing the members’ time to build informal relations, consequently if a group plays together, it stays together. Time to socialise is therefore important in building a team spirit and the popularity of teambuilding exercises and tasks.

The members of the group can make three types of contribution:

 

 

  1. Correct suggestions
  2. Correct criticism
  3. Trigger suggestions

 

 

It is not the group that creates the ideas, this is done by the individuals within the group, either by their selves or with the stimulation of another member. The group then, if it accepts the idea, builds and develops it.

The most important thing is information, this can be broken down into:

 

  • the task itself and information which will enable the group to find a solution to the problem or determine how the task is to be carried out, and
  • the parameters, this includes the time factors and resources which are involved and the priority of activities.

 

The history of the group in terms of its past successes and failures has an important bearing on the morale of the group. The sense of sharing also has the effect of binding people together, as does the amount of time that the group spends together, something which is crucial in its formation as it takes time to get to know others and build a relationship. It also takes time for the group personality to take shape. The more that a person participates in the group activity the more they will become involved in the group.

 

Leaders Role

We have looked at leadership in the previous section and for a team or group to be effective it must have strong leadership, the leader should be seen as a loyal member of the group who is fair and respected. He should set a good example and carry out the policies of the company. It is also the leaders task to convey the feelings of the group to the company, the leader should therefore, subconsciously, take on the group personality, sharing their values, goals and motives.

The leader should be capable of defining and abiding by company policies and procedures and set a good example for others to follow.

To maintain an effective group the leader must reduce tension and resolve differences. He must also maintain cohesion within the group, and inspire its members. He should also make each member of the team feel important and give praise were it is due.

Bad leadership leads to a lack of direction, dedication and assertiveness. This can produce indecision and failure to reach objectives. The role of the leader is to help the group achieve its objective or task, maintain its unity and ensure that each individual contributes to the group.

The ability to inspire others is a general characteristic of a good leader. This is especially important if the group is working in difficult, dangerous or adverse circumstances.

A crucial role of the leader is to ensure that all members of the team are effectively carrying out their role. So in order for the team to achieve its’ objectives the leader is responsible for the following functions:

 

  • Initiating - Getting the task moving and keeping it moving.
  • Regulating - Influencing the direction and speed of the groups work.
  • Informing - Ensuring the group has information and opinions.
  • Supporting - Ensuring that the emotional climate is right for the group which will hold them together and encourage contributions.
  • Evaluating - Helping the group to evaluate its decisions, objectives and procedures.

 

 

Responsibilities of the Leader

The leader should, where possible, be involved with the selection of team members; certainly the leader has the following responsibilities:

 

  • Selection, if not responsible he should be involved in it and should have the right of veto.
  • Ensuring a high standard of discipline.
  • Controls the use of resources.
  • Allocates responsibilities and tasks.
  • Directs the formation of team strategy and plans.
  • Is responsible for the coordination of the teams work with other groups.
  • Encourages and inspires the team.

 

Within a group there is both a formal and informal structure. The formal structure is that which is recognised by all outside the group and represents the division of labour amongst the group members, ie. rank, appointment. The informal structure determines how individuals exert their influence on the group’s activities according to their prestige, power or persuasiveness.

The effective and efficient working together of all concerned in a venture maximises the chances of success.

Working in groups also benefits the less able as they will have the benefit of the other members contribution who are more knowledgeable and skilled.

The history of the group in terms of its past successes and failures has an important bearing on the morale of the group.

The sense of sharing also has the effect of binding people together.

 

Procedures

All groups will have set procedures in order to ensure that things get done. The way that these procedures are implemented will have an effect on such things as the groups atmosphere, participation and cohesion.

 

Cohesiveness

The cohesiveness of the group is determined by the strength of the bonds which bind the individual members of the group into a unified whole. This is dependent on such things as morale and team spirit. It is also related to the strength of commitment and interest in the group and the tasks which it has.

The most important thing is information and communication, this can be broken down into:

 

  • the task itself and information which will enable the group to find a solution to the problem or determine how the task is to be carried out, and
  • the parameters, this includes the time factors and resources which are involved and the priority of activities.

 

This will be looked at in Section 3.

 

 

 

 

 

Task 7.2.3 Teams

 

Your line manager has suggested that you form a team for a specific task and has asked for your views with regard to the factors that need to be considered in the formation of this team.

 

Word Guide: 300 – 400

 

 

 

7.2.4 Negotiation

Negotiating is a basic management skill in dealing with clients, superiors and subordinates. Although the term “Negotiation” is most commonly used to describe bargaining between management and labour it does have a much broader application, describing any communication concerned with reaching some agreement. Negotiations may be formal or informal. The examples below indicate some of the negotiating activities a manager may undertake.

 

 

Negotiation With:

Related to:

Client, architect or quantity surveyor

Contract details, variations and additions stages payments

 

Sub-contractor

Price, timing, staged payments

 

Supplier

Prices, delivery dates

Boss or board

Future plans, own salary and terms, own work targets

Subordinates

Disputes, grievances, pay allowances, working conditions, work targets, forward plans

 

 

The Approach to Negotiating 

In any negotiations you have to consider longer term relations as well as immediate goals.

In most negotiations you should have two aims:

 

  • Immediate - to reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties
  • Longer Term - to maintain good relations (or to improve relations)

 

If you enter into negotiations with an architect regarding a dispute over a variation order, you immediate aim is to get a settlement favourable to you.  But if you are dependent on the architect for future business you should also have a longer term aim – to maintain good relations.

If there is a distinct conflict you can’t always achieve both aims. There may be cases which you deliberately compromise on immediate aims, in the interest of longer term relationships.  For example, if the architect is disputing an item in your bill (claiming that too much time has been booked) you may choose to stand the extra cost yourself, to avoid putting your relationship at risk in the future.

It is a mistake to approach negotiations with the attitude that you must win.  If you do win you satisfy your own immediate aim, but the other party loses and this may sour your longer term relations – you could be the loser in the long run.

 

Preparing for Negotiations

It is advisable to prepare for all formal negotiations.  The amount of preparation depends on the importance of the negotiations, and the likely difficulty.  Short simple negotiations and negotiations based on common goals require a short, simple preparation.  But major negotiations based on conflicting goals will require thorough preparation.

The table below provides guidance on some of the preparation that should be considered.

 

 

 

 
Organising

Check representation

Decide who will represent company management (yourself, someone else or a team).  Make sure you are negotiating with the official representatives of the other party.

 

Location and timing

Decide where negotiations will take place and when

Notification

Advise everyone concerned of the arrangements

 
Planning Outcomes

Define goals

Establish your immediate and longer term aims, the other party aims and common ground.

 

Own movement

Decide how far you can move towards the other parties aims and the implications (or reasons why you can’t move).

 

Other’s movement
Predict how far the other party can move and the implications (or reason why they can’t move).

 

Alternatives

If there is still a gap, define alternative solutions.

Preparing Data

 

Information

Collect all the information you need to support your case and any additional information the other party is likely to use.

Presentation  

Prepare any documents (notes, lists, forms etc) you wish to table during the negotiations.

Constraints

Check any rules, procedures, agreements, codes of practice, specifications relevant to the negotiations.

Advance notice

Send advance notice of purpose, and supporting information to people concerned (if this will help to simplify negotiations).

 
Deciding Tactics

Influencing tactics    

Decide which types of influencing tactic to adopt  (described on the next page).

Manner

Decide how hard (or soft) a line you are going to take.

Thrust

Decide whether you will concentrate on attacking the other party’s case or defending your own.

Other’s approach

Predict the other party’s tactics and main arguments.

Counters

Establish counters to the likely main arguments.

 
Planning Follow Up

Confirmation

Decide whether it will be necessary to confirm any agreement in writing.

Job check

Decide how to check that any agreed outcomes are put into practice.

 

 

Guidance

The table below provides some guidance in the process of Negotiation.

 

Task

To Do

Problems

Preparing

Carry out relevant steps of Preparing for negotiations

Skimped preparation

No alternative solutions (in cases of conflicting aims)

No plan to follow up application

 

Presenting your case

Present a logical sequence of clear, simple points

Put across key points with proper emphasis

Put across points in an attention holding way, with clear speech and variations in voice

Too much information

No stress of key points

Speech too fast, or mumbled.

Monotonous voice or distracting mannerisms.

 

Moving Forward

Select effective influencing tactics

Strike a bargain over any move from your aims (trading your move for a move by the other party)

Keep things moving towards agreement

Keep options open for further movement

Using bullying tactics

Conceding points without obtaining return concessions by other party

Getting bogged down or diverted

Allowing a statement position to develop

Building trust

Be sure of your facts and present them confidently

Listen to the other point of view, and treat it with respect

Be fair in your dealings

Stay calm and react to points rationally

 

Uncertainty

Dismissing the other case; trying to score debating points

Trying to put down the other party

Blowing your top

Concluding

Pick up signals of move to agreement

Confirm precise agreement speedily

Arrange any written confirmation and notification to other

Not looking for opportunities to conclude

Waiting for agreement to happen

No written confirmation

 

 

 

Task 7.2.4 Negotiation

Produce a guidance sheet which could be used by anyone involved in negotiations.

Word Guide: 300 – 400

 

 

 

 

 

Section Complete

 

You have now completed this section of Unit 7. You may now move on to the next Section by clicking on the ‘L4-7.3 Communications’ link below.


 

 


 

 

L4-7.3 Communications

 

 

 

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