Management by objectives


I have to say, when it comes to management I'm no expert. Many years ago I was pushing ahead with a project in my church and the manager of a large department store, a loverly elderly gentleman, took me aside and gave me my first lesson on managing people: get the troops onside before you rush off into battle. Having watched England wrestle with Brexit, it was obvious that the prime minister had never learnt this lesson.

One management method I detest is what I call management by manipulation - "How to win friends and influence (manipulate) people in business." There are two ways of getting people to do what we want by manipulation. There is negative manipulation which employs force, mental abuse, psychological abuse, guilt...... This is the school playground game - you be my friend or I'll pinch you. Then there is positive manipulation which employs kindness for the sake of reward. The game is - you be my friend and I'll give you a lolly.

Management is the business of organizing human resources toward the attainment of a particular objective. In fact, most things in life require the involvement of more than one person and so if we are to do it well, management techniques will need to be employed. Little is achieved by ourselves; much by the many. How do we then manage the many to achieve the much?

The standard management technique is fatherly manipulation, usually in the form of emotional blackmail. The method requires making others feel insecure and vulnerable and therefore open to our dictates. I hesitate giving this quotation, but it is just so true. Charles Colson in his book "All the Presidents Men", speaks of a sign on his office wall, "If you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow." Pure manipulation!

One tried and true method of management does commend itself, namely, Management by Objectives. It is old school, but it does work. Once a group of people have decided on their objectives, it is easy for them to set short-term goals aimed at the objectives and then step out as individuals to achieve those goals without manipulation. It was certainly the way Jesus worked with his disciples. Most of the time he was with them, he would work at expounding the truth - a truth that would set them free. When Jesus left his disciples, they were a group of empowered individuals with focused objectives. Thus, the gospel moved to the ends of the earth. So here is at least one method of management worth considering.


[Pumpkin Cottage]