Business Etiquette Regarding Fayol's Theories and Applications
I have held several jobs and have experienced various levels of organizational communications. I have seen both formal and informal types of organizational communication. The most common type of workplace model that I have personally encountered is a modified implementation of Fayol’s Theory of classical management. As described by Katherine Miller, Fayol’s theory incorporates a system that is “highly structured, and each individual knows where he or she fits” (9). As with many high school and college aged workers, available jobs often come with restrained and clearly defined roles, to be carried out without question to the specifications of our direct supervisor or company policy. This theory of classical management has been changed slightly to fit expectations of employee rights, trends in the economy, and reduction in workforce. From what I have experienced, this classical theory can often become closed off, inadequate for complex solutions, and unresponsive to an evolving state of business and service in today’s organizational climate.
As British scholar Michael Fells reflected on organizational theories, he found that many tenets of Fayol's management principles still have merit in modern society. Even though Fayol passed away in 1925, Fayol’s elements of management are not refuted but are rather reinforced through time (352). While some aspects of the dated principles are now less effective, the ideal functions of an organization to run at optimum power still have some value as a reference point to today's organizations.
One of the classical principles of Fayol that has not changed is that business ethics should play a major part in the mindset of successful management representatives. Some of the principles Fayol held of high importance were equity, minimizing levels of formality, and encouraging worker initiative. These are undisputed positive elements in the workplace for progressive companies that are looking to outperform and achieve their own goals. Fayol's main idea was to get the company to function altogether from top to bottom in cohesion. (Maheshwari, 57).
In my work at four different organizations, I have definitely recognized many of the concepts discussed in our textbook, Organizational Communication, written by Katherine Miller. Fayol’s theory has five fundamental principles. These five principles are planning, organizing, command, coordination, and control (Miller). When I review these five principles, I think of my work with a minor league baseball franchise, the Stockton Ports. This was my first real job, I found that there were much defined structures of management and information at the ballpark. I was expected to carry out almost machine like functions while I was at work. My first job everyday was to greet everyone in the ballpark that day and give away the day’s promotional item. When I would arrive every day at work, the items would already be placed in boxes around the gates of the ballpark. There would be two operations managers who would walk around to ensure that everything was in order. There were strict policies in effect about the proper manner in which to give ay the items, what to say when customers were greeted, and how to answer any questions if we were addressed by the fans.
As employees of the Ports, we were controlled by the staff by only working until the work load was light enough to be dismissed. This often mechanic rotation of employees usually sent the same people home at the same points in the ballgame each and every night. Management was very strict about attire, personal appearance, and the execution of effective use of employees. If you were send idling more than once, you would be reassigned or put to work in a more menial task where you would be seen as meeting the expectations of what payroll was expected to execute what tasks.
The Stockton Ports had a very rigid structure of hierarchy. There was a board of six executives who never came into direct contact with the day of game staff. Below the executives were game day managers and overseers. These people would report back to upper management, carry out the responsibilities of day to day games, and schedule the game day workers to their shifts as ushers, attendants, and cashiers. Everyone had a role, and no one was allowed to cross roles. If you were an usher, you cleaned seats and showed people to where there tickets were assigned. If you were in concessions, you might have little to no access with the people in the ballparkl, instead youw ere expected to stay in the kitchens and be efficient workers. Your role was assigned and that was that, though you might be able to be of assistance in another department, you would probably be sooner sent home than reassigned to a different part of the ballpark... Everything was categorized in terms of labor classes, and threw was little to no overlap. I always found this rigid structure as a limiting factor. There were often shortcomings of sending people home to early, which because an extra burden on those who were left working at the ballpark.
Fayol's top to bottom organization conflicts with other classical theorists. Perhaps the most direct foil was Taylor who thought management should be approached from the bottom up (Gallagher, 39). Fayol was stricter in the sense that he thought there should be a universal set of rules to be applied in all cases. This reminded me of my work with the Stockton Ports, who never broke out of their management molds of pre-set worker obligations and tasks.
More recently, I have worked two years for Titan Radio, Cal State Fullerton's on-campus internet radio station. I have been promoted three times and am now graduating as the General Manager of the station. I was able to successfully identify the principles to excel in my workplace by working within the structures provided by our faculty advisors. Fayol's principles were definitely present in the management structure at Titan Radio. Specifically, the design of a closed-systems approach was a hindrance to progressing the image and outward appeal of the radio station. The main reason that this was not beneficial was that our function of work was in broadcasting, which, by definition, is limited by a closed systems approach. It becomes hard to reach a sizeable audience of any sort without the interdependence and outreach to other organizations and business for the exchange of ideas and services. Being limited and confined to almost entirely inward flowing ideas is fine for building interoffice relations, but ultimately leads to boundary for promotion that becomes more difficult to accomplish than it should be.
According to Terence Lucey, though Fayol's principles are aged, they have become the foundation for modern theorists (66). Later writers like Urwich and Breck would pay a great deal of homage to Fayol for his early writings and studies on management theory. Clearly the influence of his work has long outlasted his early audience and will likely survive to be cited long after the current generation of organizational studies.