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Two Approaches to Management: a Control Strategy Or a Commitment Strategy?

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In this article two approaches to management are discussed:a control strategy and a commitment strategy. The main argument is that in most circumstances a commitment strategy has clear advantages over one of the two extreme options. Managers have the power to control their employees, but this can affect their creativity and loyalty. Employees want to be treated fairly, to be heard, to participate in decision-making,to feel motivated,to be trained and developed, and also to be mentored (not controlled). However, there are also costs to a commitment strategy as it may not suit every workplace, for example businesses in mass production. This involves investing in more training and development and changing the work environment.In this study, two plants in the chemical product division were examined.

In the first plant, employees were divided into self-managing teams with 10-15 people in each. They were all in charge of certain tasks. The teams were paid according to performance. Individual responsibilities were changed as conditions changed, and there was plenty of communication and sharing of information between management and employees. In the second plant, work was divided into small fixed jobs for which people could be held responsible for the job done. Acceptable standards of performance rested on lowest expectations about workers skills and motivation,and they didn’t expect any higher of them. Compensation was based on an agreed amount if you put in an average day’s work.As a result, the first plant was the top economic performer. They had high staff morale, low absenteeism and a low labour turnover. This was no surprise as the employees enjoyed continuous improvement, shared goals and more responsibility.

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The commitment strategy was more successful as jobs were designed more extensive and generous than before. This plant invested the bulk of their effort in the commitment strategy, which resulted in voluntary long-term commitment. The management hierarchy was relatively flat and depended on shared goals and expertise, rather than formal position like the second plant. The performance expectations were high and reflected the requirements of the marketplace. The second plant did not perform economically and had low staff morale,high absenteeism and high labour turnover. The employees were constantly monitored and controlled by management. Managers only wanted to establish order, control and achieve efficiency, therefore the employees could not work to the best of their ability.There are limitations to the commitment strategy.

There is a problem with paying employees for their skills and performance. The tasks or goals provided by managers can be too difficult to complete and can reduce their motivation. Some people will receive very high pay and others not so high, which could result in unequal pay costs for the firm. Employees are not always motivated by money. Another limitation is that more supervisors are needed. The commitment model requires first line supervisors to manage and mentor teams in the workplace. They need to be able to delegate work to employees and provide them with the responsibility of their own tasks. A lot of supervisors may not be trained appropriately for that, so this requires investing in more training and development for supervisors. It is questionable whether technology is a limitation as there are many advantages and disadvantages associated with it in relation to controlling and commitment. It is difficult to measure performance when technology is involved because sometimes managers can’t judge how much work the employee has completed themself.

The author could expand on these results by studying more than 2 companies in a different industry, therefore he could find more advantages of the commitment approach and more disadvantages of the control model. He may also find more limitations to the strategy with more companies involved. After taking in all this information, the commitment model is the way forward for the future. Companies need to be aware of the limitations and costs of this model so they can implement plans to prevent problems happening, such as unequal pay in the workplace due to performance-based pay. Future research could include interviewing large samples of employees in the workplace before and after they convert from control to commitment style of management and see how much their job satisfaction has improved.


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