Managers within organizations generally walk the line between employees and owners, although in smaller organizations owners may also function as managers. People in management positions are often under a great deal of stress because they are trying to balance the needs and demands of those above them and those below them in the organization. This process requires a great deal of diplomacy to be done well.
Diversity has become a central point in many businesses and organizations, in both positive and negative ways. While acceptance of workplace diversity in the fields of race, gender, disability, age and sexual orientation has become much more accepted in recent years, indicating a broadening of the public mind, diversity struggles can also lead to interpersonal conflicts and struggles within organizations. Managers need to remain cognizant of these delicate issues and strive to maintain an inclusive office culture. Conflict caused by, for example, a man who has been denied a promotion in favor of a woman, and who feels that this is the result of reverse sexism, can cause serious damage to the cohesiveness of a working team. It is the manager's unenviable job to find a solution.
Owners or shareholders of some businesses may become disengaged from the business's day-to-day workings, and make demands that are not realistic in their expectations. Managers may be put in a position where they are expected to meet impossible demands for production, speed, efficiency or other factors. A manager needs to realistically gauge the actual capabilities of his team, and determine if the demands of ownership can be met. If they can't, he needs to find a way to diplomatically convey this news to the owners so that it will be believed, preferably without alienating them or endangering his position.
Given a large enough team or enough time, any organization is bound to be met eventually with the challenge of the pot stirrer. A pot stirrer, whether through boredom, alienation, vindictiveness or a political agenda, can't resist throwing a wrench into the works just to see what will happen. She may engineer interpersonal conflicts, spread malicious rumors about the company to other people or even actively undermine what the team is attempting to accomplish. Other employees will generally not want to confront this person, and the owners of a business will usually not be aware of the problem. The manager needs to determine an appropriate response to this sort of behavior, a response that can range from a private conversation to termination.
Coping With the Unexpected
Managers need to remain flexible in their reactions to day-to-day occurrences. Reality is unpredictable, and any plan that doesn't allow for this will be too brittle to survive the difficulties of the real world. Machines break down, people become ill, deals are broken, airplanes with key people on board crash. Nobody really knows what is going to happen next, and a project or personnel manager has to react quickly and efficiently to any of these eventualities. The ability to retain a calm and clear mind in the midst of chaos is the hallmark of a superior manager.
Jagg Xaxx has been writing since 1983. His primary areas of writing include surrealism, Buddhist iconography and environmental issues. Xaxx worked as a cabinetmaker for 12 years, as well as building and renovating several houses. Xaxx holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art history from the University of Manchester in the U.K.