By Rohan Pandithakorralage
MANAGERS in organisations are required to perform ceaseless amount of tasks to achieve set objectives of the establishment. Among those tasks are, the need to align vectors (direction and intent of efforts), ensure consistency in management objectives, harmonise feelings and motivation of the employees concerned, build networks and to build consensus for the goal.
If good plans are formed with regard to work, appropriate clear direction given, and necessary control exercised, it will be possible for the work in question to proceed according to plan and for the goal to be achieved.
It is primarily expected that work in a department/organisation will be satisfactorily performed by the exercising of proper planning, directing, and controlling. However, in actuality, the manager spends a considerable amount of time on activities that are difficult to say which of these he or she is actually doing. It is almost impossible to say which of these activities are performed at a given moment as these activities are interrelated.
For example if one was to look at the activities involved in developing a marketing plan, in some instances meetings are convened, in others one-to-one interviews are conducted, views are exchanged, and discussions are held in order to find the direction and policy to be taken in addition to the steps and functional complexities involved.
Mutual agreements and the circumstances of the people concerned pertaining to the plan are discussed, cooperation is sought for the purpose of adjusting any delays in implementing any directions or orders, and mutual talks are held concerning preparations for group cooperation and teamwork. Furthermore, these sorts of actions are sometimes performed in the form of committees/tasks force or the like.
Management activities made up of these types of actions take up more time than one would think, and depending on how they are performed, greatly influence work efficiency. These types of management activities are known as “coordinating”. Walt Disney once said “of all the things I’ve done, most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.”
Coordinating refers to making contact with persons concerned, making necessary arrangements, and maintaining harmony and accord concerning some specified problem or concern in order that the manager can execute work in the organisation smoothly. It does not simply share or mutually recognise goals and circumstances, but also serves to heighten the willingness to do things and encourages problem.
There could be some confusion about “coordinating” with the function of “controlling” among people in organisations. Coordinating means matching of vectors, sharing of mind and power. Controlling, on the other hand means keeping the work on the right track and comparing with agreed plans or standards.
The Japanese have an interesting concept in coordinating. It is known as Nemawashi, which means ‘preliminary groundwork or manoeuvre’. For example a member of a management committee may have an idea to change the working hours of the organisation to ensure punctuality.
This manager would first speak individually with the respective members of the committee about his proposal. He or she will try to understand how the members of the committee feel about this proposal and try to secure harmony.
Thereafter he or she will form a network of people concerned about this proposal and incorporate their suggestions and present it at the management committee acknowledging each members views. He or she will also mention about any suggestions that could not be incorporated and the reason for same.
This approach ensures that the idea promoter gets the necessary support to implement his or her proposal. Nemawashi constitutes one field of coordination. Generally an effective manager would spend a considerable amount of time on coordination when performing his/her job.
Coordination is vital for efficient and effective management. When proper coordination does not take place in an organisation the following effects could be seen:
nDuplication or omission of work will take place;
nImproper judgment in planning and deciding the direction required to proceed in implementation;
nPeople involved may find it difficult to relate to each other;
nDifficulty in establishing common understanding with regard to goal and changes in situation;
nDistrust amongst superiors and colleagues and the organisation as a whole.
The manager will benefit tremendously when he or she coordinates with subordinates when carrying out work. One of the basic expectations of a manager from a subordinate is to carry out jobs and tasks as planned. The manager will have more time to perform the duties that are expected from the position. Also, greater cooperation can be obtained from subordinates. Managers may witness a drop in mistakes and prevention of quality deterioration.
Further, when a possible confusion is expected in an organisation because of changes in policy, changes in situation, modification of the way of performing work by subordinates etc a manager must make sufficient coordination with related parties and specially subordinates. This must be done pro-actively and not after the issues have arisen.
There are many methods used for coordination today. These include speaking with individuals in the workplace, holding workplace meetings and discussion, communicating via memos and notices, use of fax, telephone (including text messages), emails and other forms of electronic communication like the VHF sets.
Finally, for proper coordination to take place within a particular organisation or with another organisation, it is important to correctly select the key person with whom coordination is to be done. Careful consideration must be made as to with whom coordination is made and with whom coordination should be initiated depending on the time and circumstances.
(The writer is Past President and Member of the Association of Human Resource Professionals.)