According to Mullins (2007), management is essentially an integrating activity (p. 414). In this activity, the manager is involved in most of the integration work and drives this integration through coordination and collaboration between different people across various departments, functions and hierarchies. Activities performed by managers may vary in different settings, however, their core functions remain the same in every setting/department/organisation. Yet, it is important for one to learn and know what managers are expected to do and how their activities impact others and the business of the organisation.
For this purpose, two managers were shadowed separately: one was Barclays bank manager and the other a manager at a private phone shop. This process provided much learning and experience of managerial activities, behaviour and style in two distinct settings, which has been reported in the following discussion. Motivation for and the essence of shadowing: Motivation for shadowing two different managers came from the knowledge gained from theoretical aspects of management and an urge to practically observe leaders’/managers’ activities and learn from their experience. The shadowing process provided access to highly skilled and experienced managers for 3 working days, which helped in drawing critical inferences in comparison with theoretical aspects learnt earlier.
This was required to observe the practical challenges faced by managers; observe actual managerial work against theory; develop better understanding of managerial style and organisational context; and reflect on leadership values. Buchanan and Huczynski (2007) have summarized the evolution of leadership theories, proposed by different people over time, as based on traits, different styles, transformation, and acquiring the ability to adapt to different situations in different times throughout the organisation.
Theoretical aspects related to managerial work is tremendous and varied, and hence assimilation of these concepts may be possible to a large extent through experience. Shadowing the bank manager provided much insight into core management activities of planning, controlling, coordinating and motivating. However, other aspects such as monitoring, measuring quality and productivity and expectation setting were more evident through work performed by the manager at the phone shop. Shadowing activity provides much more practical experience than class-room lectures and training sessions as the participant not only observes managerial activities, but also required to recollect and correlate his/her previous learning to different situations in order to actually understand why the managers performed/behaved in specific manner.
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