web counter
This blog has been designed most for the benefits of my students. I am interested in spiritual intelligence because I believe it leads to happiness and resilience. If you want copies of my published research (conference papers or articles in journals), feel free to contact me.

Ridhwan (

My other blog is:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Meeting deadlines

Management can be complicated but the basics are easy to understand. The most fundamental skill that anybody can enforce is getting subordinates to meet deadlines. I was speaking to a manager the other day. He used to work for a multinational in Malaysia and he switched to a small, local company. He described his current organisation as one in where "everybody seems to be working in slow motion." When I asked what he meant, he explained that in a multinational, deadlines were respected. By hook or by crook, you had to finish your work on time.... so people started working on projects early. In his new job, deadlines keep moving. There is no incentive to start working on something now because you already know that the deadline willl change ..... The moral of the story is that good managers set realistic deadlines and stick to them. If people don't meet the deadlines, they scream, shout and rave to male people understand that dead;ones are important. If not, your message to your people is, "don't bother meeting deadlines because I don't really care anyway."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Leader of a group vs. manager in a company

A few days ago, the question was asked, is it more difficult to be the leader of a group or a manager in a company?

Personally, I have been both. I never enjoyed being a manager because you have a lot of responsibility but no real power. At the end of the day, your boss is telling you what to do. Many times, I was told to do things that I believe was not really good for my company .... but you still have to follow the orders.

At university, you have more freedom. However, it is true that it is difficu;t to be a leader when you are all "peers." It comes back to the role of a leader. A leader has two main roles:

a) Task roles: to achieve the task that has been given

b) Maintenance role: To maintain a good relationship between the members of a team

I suspect that some team leaders are having problems because they have not spent enough time developing a team spirit. Often, people do not invest in developing a relationship. You know one another's name but that is about it. To develop a real time spirit, everybody has to share things about themselves. That sharing is a way of telling everybody that you trust one another.

Why do you think I tell stories about Anas, Adam or Ammar? Why do you think I show pictures of my kids in class? Even my blog tells you some personal ideas or my experiences with MBA students? By sharing things that are personal (but not too personal), I am simply trying to build a sense of trust between me and the rest of the class. Everybody talks about "breaking the ice". That is misleading. People break the ice and then forget to build relationships. Everything in management is about relationships. Building relationships and (when necessary) destroying relationships.

The lesson which I take from the question is that you are finding the simulation difficult. Good. That means that you are learning something important..... :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Contingency school

I had a question related to the contingency school. The idea behind the contingency school is that there is no best way to solve a management problem. Depending on the situation, people who subscribe to the contingency will change their approach. In other words, this chool promotes two things:

a) an awareness that adapting to a changing business environment is very important

b) a flexible mindset

For example, imagine a company that is involved in on-line advertising. Maybe, their approach is very process-orientated. However, as the company grows bigger, the CEO realises that there is less and less communication between the workers. This new situation (a bigger company) requires the CEO to use a new approach (for example, more team building activities) that the company never did in the past.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Schools of management (example)

Let's take IIUm as an example. You are the new rector and you are not happy with the overall performance of the university. How would the different schools of management apply to the management of this university?

1. If you believe in the administrative school, you will re-arrange some of the policies and procedures to make the administration stronger.

2. If you believe in the scientific management school, you will do a study of how long it takes to do certain jobs. You will then find ways to shorten the time to do these jobs.

3. If you believe in the bureaucratic school, you will re-arrange the structure of the university so that the chain of command is clear.

4. If you believe in the behavioural school, you will find ways to motivate your staff because you assume that if people are more motivated, they will produce more

5. If you believe in the systems school, you will look at the university overall. You might realise that the university is very dependent on the support from the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) so your energy will be focused on improving the relationship with MOHE.

6. If you believe in the process school, you will look at how different parts of the university work together. For example, for centralised examinations, you might find that the cooperation between different parts of the university is lacking and that effects the students' performance during the examination.

7. If you believe in the learning organisation school, you will ask the senior professors to share their knowledge of management wiht younger lecturers (for example, by doing joint teaching) so that the younger lecturers becoem more experienced more quickly.

In other words, your perception of management will determine how you look at management problems. A good manager will be able to look at a problem from different perspectives in order to identify the best solution.

Schools of management (theory)

The idea is simple. Over the last one hundred years, different experts in management have proposed different ways to manage effectively.

Henrie Fayol was one of the earliest and he said that managers need to develop a good administration based on a few key principles (i.e. unity of command, scalar principle, ....)

Frederick Taylor said that the key was 'schientific management.' In other words, you need to study people's jobs and simplify the steps so that the job can be done more quickly

Max Weber argued that you had to develop a bureaucracy that was transparent, logical and orderly

The various experts in the behaviour school argued that if you engage people (i.e. challenge them, make their job interesting,....), your organisation will be more effective

After the 1950s, the systems, the process and the learning schools added more knowledge about management. In all of these three schools, the important thing is to understand that people depend on other people to do their job. To manage well, you need to see the "big picture." For the systems school, that means that you need to focus on the system as a whole. For the process school, you need to see how to coordinate the work between departments . For the learning school, you need to get the experts in the organisation to share their knowledge with members in the organisation that are less knowledgeable.

Another soft skills session