Authors: Phillip Hunsaker and Anthony Alessandra
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Inc.
Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi
Managing people has always been a challenge. This is because people are difficult to manage and most managers too lack effective people-management skills. This is why I want us to discuss this book entitled “The Art of Managing People” this week. It is co-written by Dr. Phillip Hunsaker and Dr. Anthony Alessandra, two management experts.
Hunsaker is a professor of Management and director of Management Programmes, School of Business Administration at the University of San Diego. He is a renowned consultant, speaker and author of many best-selling books on Management. As for Alessandra, he is a highly-respected sales, marketing and management consultant as well as an award-winning public speaker. He has written more than 100 articles.
According to Hunsaker and Alessandra, the art of managing people productively and effectively is ever-changing and evolving, and many of the managerial concepts proposed some years ago cannot work in today’s environment. These experts ascribe this to the fact that people, business environment, government and world have changed, while scarcity of resources has worsened, especially the valuable resource of skilled labour.
Hunsaker and Alessandra disclose that attracting, training, motivating and keeping employees have become much more difficult and expensive. They submit that this text has been written to overcome many of the traditional manager-employee relationship problems. According to these authors, when a manager establishes a friendly yet productive working atmosphere, the benefits to the whole organisation are substantial.
This text is segmented into three parts of 19 chapters. Part one has generic subject matter of building productive managerial relationships, and covers the first five chapters. Chapter one is entitled “Adjusting effectively to personal style differences”.
According to Hunsaker and Alessandra here, interactive management is a process of dealing with people as individuals in order to build trust in the manager-employee relationship, thereby improving productivity in the organisational set-up.
Chapter two is entitled “Learning how to learn”. These authors say here that successful managers in today’s rapidly-changing world are distinguished not so much by a set of technical skills as by their ability to learn and adapt to the fluctuating demands of their careers. They stress that continuing success requires the ability to explore new opportunities and learn from past successes and failures. Hunsaker and Alessandra say one purpose for studying the learning process is to understand how people generate concepts, rules and principles from their experiences as guides for their future behaviour.
In chapters three to five, these authors discuss concepts such as doing unto others; deciding how to decide; and analysing transactional styles.
Part two is summarily woven together as “Interactive communication skills” and contains eight chapters, that is, chapters six to 13. Chapter six is entitled “The art of questioning”. Here, Hunsaker and Alessandra educate that one of the most critical and valuable tools in the manager’s arsenal of communication skills, is the art of questioning.
They add that the ability of the manager to ask the right questions at the right time to help his or her employees best is an essential and integral part of interactive management. “Skilful questioning simplifies the manager’s job because it gets employees to ‘open up’. The employee feels free to reveal inner feelings, motives, needs, current situations, goals, and desires. With this knowledge, the manager is in a much better position to guide the employee to the ultimate achievement of personal, professional, and organisational goals,” assert Hunsaker and Alessandra.
In chapters seven to 13, they beam their analytical searchlight on concepts such as the power of listening; projecting the appropriate image; communicating through voice tones; using body language effectively; spatial arrangements saying things, etc.
Part three, the last part has a general subject matter of “Interactive problem-solving” and covers the last six chapters, that is, chapters 14 to 19. Chapter 14 is entitled “Problem-solving together”. Hunsaker and Alessandra educate that when managers are asked how they make decisions and solve problems, the typical response is usually something like “I don’t know. I just do what has to be done”.
In the words of these authors, “Although they may not be able to specify what steps they take or what rules they apply, all would probably agree that making ‘good’ decisions and effectively solving problems are the essence of good management.”
In chapters 15 to 19, Hunsaker and Alessandra discuss concepts such as defining the problem; developing action plans; implementing action; following through; and what to do with what you have learnt.
Conceptually, these authors have presented an inventory of very rich and brilliant ideas in this book. Stylistically, this text is a success. For instance, the language of the text is simple while the organisation of concepts is okay. The authors use graphics to further enhance understanding of readers. Also, the title is short and assertive.
However, grammatical errors are noticed in the text. One of these is, “Letting your workers express their own personalities and maximise their potentials…” (outside back cover), instead of “Letting your workers express their own personalities and maximise their potential…” Note that “Potential” is an uncountable noun and therefore does not structurally take an “s”). Another error is that of structural redundancy, that is, “Much more difficult and much more expensive” (page xi) instead of the elliptical version “Much more difficult and expensive”.
In spite of these errors, this text still passes for a masterpiece. It is highly recommended to anybody that wants to become well educated in the art of management.
GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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