Practice Being a Manager: Observing History Today
Guidelines and Rubric
The topic of management history may sound like old news, but many of the issues and problems addressed by Max Weber, Chester Barnard, and other management theorists still challenge managers today. How can we structure an organization for maximum efficiency and just treatment of individuals? What are the basis for and the limits of authority in organizations? It is rather amazing that these thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries generated such a wealth of theory that still influences our approaches to management and leadership challenges in the 21st century. This assignment will give you the opportunity to draw upon some ideas that trace their roots back to the pioneers of management thinking.
To complete this assignment, follow these steps.
Step 1: Find an observation point. Identify a place near Fort Worth, Texas where you can unobtrusively observe a group of people for 20 minutes as they go about their work. You might select a coffee shop, bookstore, or restaurant, for example. You may not select your own workplace or the establishment of a family or close friend because it would be difficult to be unbiased in your observation. It is a good idea to go during a busy time, so long as it is not so crowded that you will be unable to easily observe the workers. You should take something along with you to jot down a few notes.
Step 2: Observe the employees at work. Observe the process of work and the interaction among the employees. Consider some of the issues below as you are observing and taking notes. Note that the purpose of taking these notes are to help you organize your own thoughts about
what you observe and to help you prepare to write your report; you will not need to submit your notes or responses to the following questions.
● Identify the steps that employees follow in completing a work cycle (e.g., from taking an order to delivering a product). Can you see improvements that might be made, particularly steps that might be eliminated or streamlined?
● Observe the interaction and mood of the workers. Are they stressed? Or are they more relaxed? Does it seem to you that these workers like working with each other?
● Listen for signs of conflict. If you see signs of conflict, is the conflict resolved? If so, how did the workers resolve their conflict? If not, do you think that these workers suppress (bottle up) conflict?
Can you tell who is in charge here? If so, how do the other workers respond to this person’s directions? If not, how does the work group sort out who should be doing each task, and in what order?
Step 3: After your observation session, consider what you saw and look through the chapter on management history for connections to your observations. For example, do you see any signs of the “Hawthorne Effect”? Would Frederick Taylor approve of the work process you observed,
or might he have suggested improvements? What might Chester Barnard’s theory have to say about how the workers you observed responded to instructions from their “boss”?
Step 4: Write an observation report. Specifically, your assignment submission should address the following critical elements:
● Identify the business you observed and the date and time of your observation
● Describe specific details of at least three practices you observed that reflect the thinking of management pioneers such as Mary Parker
Follett and others discussed in Chapter 2 (History of Management)
If the employee work practices you observed did not align with any of the theories discussed in this module, then suggest at least three theories that, if applied to the specific practices you observed, would improve business.
Guidelines for Submission: Your observation report must be submitted as a one-page Microsoft Word document with double spacing, a
12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, and references cited in APA format.
Instructor Feedback: This activity uses an integrated rubric in Blackboard. Students can view instructor feedback in the Grade Center.