Peters and Waterman: What do managers do?


Peters and Waterman: What do managers do?

Tom Peters, a prominent management expert, co-author of “In Search of Excellence”, and a notable figure in the business management world, offered a somewhat different perspective on what managers should do compared to traditional management theories.

His approach is more people-centric and innovation-driven, focusing on the cultural and qualitative aspects of management. Here are some key points from Peters’ perspective on what managers should do:

  1. Focus on People and Leadership: Peters emphasises the importance of managing by walking around (MBWA). This approach suggests that managers should be out in the field, interacting directly with employees and customers. This hands-on, people-oriented approach helps managers understand the challenges and opportunities their teams face.
  2. Encourage Innovation and Experimentation: Peters advocates for creating an environment where innovation is encouraged and failure is not penalised too harshly. This means allowing employees to experiment, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.
  3. Pay Attention to Customers: He stresses the importance of being close to customers and understanding their needs and preferences. This customer-centric approach helps ensure that the company remains relevant and competitive.
  4. Foster a Culture of Excellence: Peters argues for creating a culture that strives for excellence in every aspect of the business. This involves setting high standards and continuously seeking improvements in all operations.
  5. Empower Employees: Empowering employees to make decisions and take action is another key aspect. This involves delegating authority, providing resources, and trusting employees to act in the best interests of the organisation.
  6. Adapt to Change: Peters recognises the importance of flexibility and adaptability in the fast-paced business environment. Managers should be prepared to pivot strategies and practices in response to changing market conditions and technological advancements.
  7. Emphasise Quality: A focus on quality in products, services, and all business processes is vital. Peters sees quality as a key differentiator in the market.
  8. Value Simplicity and Clarity: He advises managers to avoid over-complication and bureaucracy. Simplifying processes and maintaining clarity in communication and goals can lead to more efficient and effective management.
  9. Promote Passion and Energy: Managers should inspire passion and energy in their teams. This can be achieved through inspirational leadership, clear and motivating goals, and recognition of achievements.
  10. Nurture a Strong Organisational Culture: Building and maintaining a strong, positive organisational culture is essential. This culture should reflect the organisation’s values and support its strategic objectives.

Peters’ approach to management is dynamic and human-centric, focusing on the softer skills of leadership, the importance of organisational culture, and the necessity of being close to the operational front lines and customers.

His ideas have significantly influenced modern management practices, particularly in fostering innovation, customer focus, and employee empowerment.

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