Authors: Phillip Hunsaker and Anthony Alessandra
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Inc.
Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi
Managing people has always been a challenge everywhere. This is because people are difficult to manage and most managers too lack the skill of effective people management. This is why we are X-raying this book entitled “The Art of Managing People”. It is co-written by Dr. Phillip Hunsaker and Dr.Anthony Alessandra, two brilliant 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 a dynamic process that is ever changing and evolving, and many of the managerial concepts proposed only a few years ago cannot and will not work in today’s environment. These experts ascribe this development 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 submit that attracting, training, motivating and keeping employees have become much more difficult and expensive, adding that these will even get worse in the future. 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.
These authors assert that the text offers you practical strategies, guidelines and techniques for developing interpersonal skills critical to the improvement of relations with employees; how to understand differences among people and behave accordingly; assessing and improving current working situations; creating trust between managers and employees, etc.
Hunsaker and Alessandra say person-to-person skills are central to the development of an effective team of satisfied and energetic workers. They educate that allowing your workers to express their own personalities and maximise their potential will reduce stress within the workforce, create a positive spirit throughout the company and increase the organisation’s productivity and profitability.
This text is segmented into three parts of 19 chapters. Part one has a 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, openness and honesty in the manager-employee relationship, thereby improving productivity in the organisational set-up. In their words, “To treat your employees as unique individuals, you as the manager must understand what makes them different from one another. With this knowledge, you can go about managing your employees as unique individuals with unique personalities, problems, and needs. This ‘custom-tailored’ approach to managing employees in an organisational setting is one of the major thrusts of interactive management.”
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 go about generating concepts, rules and principles from their experiences as guides for their future behaviour, and how they modify these concepts to improve their effectiveness in new situations.
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; how your use of time talks; and making sure with feedback.
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.
As far as style is concerned, this text is on the high rung of the ladder. For instance, the language of the text is simple while the organisation of concepts is okay. The authors use graphical embroidery for visual reinforcement of readers’ understanding. What’s more, the title is short but 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 a must-read and the tips must-apply for anybody that wants to become well educated in the art of management in the New Year.
GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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