23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Preconference: Managing with Integrity

August 18, 2008 at 5:34 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Preconferences | Leave a comment

PRECONFERENCES

Managing with Integrity
Elisabeth Leonard and Hollie White, both from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Reported by Tonia Graves

The “Managing with Integrity” preconference, facilitated by Elisabeth Leonard and Hollie White, both doctoral students at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, started even before arriving in Phoenix.  On May 30, 2008, preconference registrants received an email from the facilitators containing links to two online management style tests.  The facilitators recommended registrants take at least one of the management style tests before the preconference.  The first management style test contained 10 “ranking” questions and was based on work done by Dr. Ichak Adizes.  The second management style test contained 72 “yes or no” questions and was based on the Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs typological approach to personality, http://humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm.  Taking at least one of the management style tests and analyzing the results before the preconference enabled the registrants to identify characteristics of their own management styles and provided them with a starting point for the preconference discussions.

The session began as a group by addressing the question:  what is management and what are the characteristics of a good manager?  When the registrants shared their responses, management was identified as:  getting work done through other people; providing resources and training for the team; recognizing and meeting the goals of the organization; delegating; planning for future needs; listening; keeping records and being accountable.  Characteristics of a good manager were identified as: patience; confidence; fairness; a good listener; strong; organized; problem solver; systems thinking; negotiator; diplomatic; knowledgeable; a coach; and a motivator.

After the brainstorming on management and the characteristics of a good manager, Elisabeth presented theories about management attitudes from the management literature.  Elisabeth explained that Theory X, authoritarian management, and Theory Y, participative management, were developed in the 1960s by Douglas McGregor.  A manager who embraces Theory X expects that the average person: dislikes work; must be coerced, controlled, or threatened with punishment; is unable to solve work problems; and wants to be directed and avoid responsibility. A manager who embraces Theory Y expects that the average person: does not dislike work; physical and mental efforts are natural activities; work can be voluntary and satisfactory; and accepts responsibility.

The 1980s saw the rise of Theory Z, by W.S. Ouchi.  Theory Z has roots in Japanese management and advocates a democratic management style.  A manager who embraces Theory Z expects that the average person is: loyal; interested in team work and in the organization; and capable of collective decision making.

We viewed a clip from the movie “Office Space” featuring Jennifer Aniston being counseled by her manager for not having a “minimum of fifteen pieces of flair” on her uniform suspenders.  In this clip the group saw a communication style that needed improvement.  They also saw how important communication is to directing performance.

Since the clip illustrated that communication needs to be meaningful, the participants moved into a conversation on this topic.  They focused the conversation on coaching as a means of communicating performance.  Coaching was defined as a way to improve and direct performance by assisting employees to accept responsibility for their actions and to achieve and sustain better performance.   Characteristics of a coach include: time and interest; agreed upon goals; a standard for measuring performance; politeness; ability to focus on the problem not the person, and ability to focus on the future not the past.

The preconference was closed by discussing one of eight situations contained in the preconference folder.  Each situation, while not uncommon, is one most managers and staff would prefer to avoid.  In our discussion of the situation we were advised to: define the situation, gather the facts; list the guiding principles and policies for your organization; identify possible resolutions; and for each resolution, list the consequences for yourself, the organization, and the employee(s).

Heather and Elisabeth were skilled facilitators.  As a team, they also alternated smoothly between the podium and the audience.  Elisabeth’s background in reference and Hollie’s in technical services enabled them to present a knowledgeable and balanced representation of management issues.    They provided realistic examples and scenarios from both departments.  Preconference attendees left with a folder of valuable notes, scenarios, and a bibliography to help them begin and continue to manage with integrity.

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