Reviewed by Rebecka Wilson
The Art of Managing People discusses the ever-changing nature of management theory, yet presents their approach based on the fact that the basis of their approach is pretty universal. The authors focus on what they call “Interactive management.” The goal of Interactive management is to build trust and have open honest two-way communication between the manager and the employees. This is opposed to the practice of “Technical management” which focuses on the company’s needs and does not tend to account for possible setbacks or uncontrollable events that inevitably occur in a person’s life.
The authors often include lists of behaviors or skills that will benefit the manager and help teach him/her some of the ways to be effective with Interactive management. One of these lists includes their advice on Interactive Communication skills. The authors set up several tactics to enable a manager to more effectively communicate with his/her employees. The main points and skills are: the art of questioning, the power of listening, projecting the appropriate image, communicating through voice tones, using body language effectively, and making sure with feedback. The authors go into detail on each of these points discussing the way people are affected by these types of communication, and teach the most effective way for a manager to send out the desired message to the employees.
The focus on building a relationship between the manager and the employees is brilliant. I feel like that is definitely the first step in making the employees feel valued and appreciated, and everyone wants that kind of reassurance and praise at work. The process of gaining employee trust and confidence is also important because the more the employee knows the relationship they have with their manager is solid and genuine, the more they will enjoy working under that manager. An environment where there is mutual trust and honesty between the manager and the employees will be more effective than an environment where there is resentment and bitterness for the manager and frustration and misunderstanding for the employees. The Interactive management method has an appeal to it because it focuses on interpersonal cooperative relationships at work, as opposed to a domineering dictator of a manager that bellows at employees and orders them around.
Based on lectures and discussions of management in class, I feel that this book definitely brings some positive points to the table. I think the authors were effective because they took a few years to do research before compiling this book, and they also put the disclaimer out there that management theory and ideas are constantly evolving. I agree that building open trust-based relationships between managers and employees is an effective strategy and would definitely create a more pleasant and productive work environment anywhere. I think that people want to be treated and acknowledged as individuals both in and out of the workplace, and I doubt that idea will change much. This idea of Interactive management responds to the idea of individual appreciation in the workplace, and I agree that in that regard their theory has elements that make it universal.
I would recommend this book to other public relations students, especially since we tend to focus on relationship building of one form or another in our career field. I would also recommend this book to anyone who feels challenged in the role of a manager, for someone who is soon to be a manager, or for a manager who feels like he/she is failing to be the most effective team leader they can be. The authors’ style is easy to read and compelling. The advice of the authors felt conversational and relatable, and it made sense. The logical progression of employees succeeding when they trust their manager and knowing their manager trusts them makes sense, and that is what this book was all about: being a relatable person in a position of authority.