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Introduction to Business

6.8 Trends in Management and Leadership

Introduction to Business6.8 Trends in Management and Leadership

  1. What trends will affect management in the future?

Four important trends in management today are crisis management, outside directors, the growing use of information technology, and the increasing need for global management skills.

Crisis Management

Crises, both internal and external, can hit even the best-managed organization. Sometimes organizations can anticipate crises, in which case managers develop contingency plans, and sometimes they can’t. Take, for example, the sudden death of McDonald’s CEO Jim Cantalupo. The company had a solid succession plan in place and immediately named Charlie Bell as new CEO. Only a few months later, Bell announced that he had terminal cancer. Even though the company had prepared for the event of its leader’s untimely death, surely it couldn’t have anticipated that his successor would also be stricken by a terminal illness at almost the same time. Likewise, consider the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate in 2017. Part of Marriott Hotels’ crisis management plan included relaxing its “no pets” policy and allowing patrons fleeing the storm to check in with their pets because it was the right thing to do.19

Crises cannot be fully anticipated, but managers can develop contingency plans to help navigate through the aftermath of a disaster. For example, consider the challenges that faced Rajiv Joseph, the author of several plays including Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, who was in Houston preparing to open his new play, Describe the Night, at the Alley Theater when Hurricane Harvey hit and flooded the theater a few weeks prior to opening night. The six New York–based actors, the director, the stage manager, and Joseph decided to help in the relief efforts and made their way to the George Brown Convention Center, which had become the central location for relief efforts. When they arrived and the staffers discovered they were theater artists, they were deployed to handle the writing and deployment of public address announcements and manage the incoming crowds. What made the relief efforts successful was planning—matching the skill sets of volunteers with tasks they are best able to perform.20 Even though those in charge of the relief efforts had contingency plans, they still needed to make dozens of nonprogrammed decisions to effectively manage the ever-changing situation.21

No manager or executive can be completely prepared for these types of unexpected crises. However, how a manager handles the situation could mean the difference between disaster, survival, and even financial gain. No matter the crisis, there are some basic guidelines managers should follow to minimize negative outcomes. Managers should not become immobilized by the problem or ignore it. Managers should face the problem head on. Managers should always tell the truth about the situation and then put the best people on the job to correct the problem. Managers should ask for help if they need it, and finally, managers must learn from the experience to avoid the same problem in the future.22 Table 6.6 describes what CEOs and other leaders learned about crisis management.

Managers and Information Technology

The second trend having a major impact on managers is the proliferation of data and analytics in information technology. An increasing number of organizations are selling technology, and an increasing number are looking for cutting-edge technology to make and market the products and services they sell. One particularly useful type of technology is dashboard software. Much like the dashboard in a car, dashboard software gives managers a quick look into the relevant information they need to manage their companies. Most large companies are organized in divisions, and often each division relies on a particular type of application or database software. Dashboard software allows employees to access information from software they don’t routinely use, for example, from an application used by a different division from their own. More important, however, is the ability of a dashboard to show up-to-the-minute information and to allow employees to see all the information they need—such as financial and performance data—on a single screen.

Lessons Leaders Learned about Managing Crises
Howard Schultz
Chairman, Starbucks
Learn from one crisis at a time. After the Seattle earthquake of 2001, the company invested in a notification system that could handle text messaging. The night before Hurricane Katrina hit, Starbucks sent out 2,300 phone calls to associates in the region, telling them about available resources.
Gary Loveman
CEO, Harrah’s
Make life easier for your employees. Before the storm hit, management announced that in the event of total entertainment disaster, employees would be paid for at least 90 days. The decision was meant to provide employees with some certainty during a very uncertain time.
J. W. Marriott
CEO, Marriott
Communicate for safety. Marriott moved its email system out of New Orleans before Katrina hit. As a result, employees were able to communicate with each other and vendors to get food and water to affected areas. A massive publicity campaign (Dial 1-800-Marriott) helped the company find 2,500 of its 2,800 people in the region.
Geno Auriemma
University of Connecticut Basketball Coach
It's about doing it in a way that it can't be done any better. That is the goal every day.
Danny Gavin
VP, Brian Gavin Diamonds
“Create an unforgettable customer experience” may sound like a cliché, but this is our golden rule. Despite waist-high water and treacherous conditions, we had several international orders that needed to be shipped the Wednesday after Hurricane Harvey hit. FedEx and UPS had ceased operations around the Houston area during the storm, but our CEO Brian Gavin was determined to deliver an outstanding customer service experience. That’s why he drove with the packages in hand to the nearest FedEx store that was open: College Station. The standard three-hour round trip ended up taking five hours.
Bob Nardelli
CEO, Home Depot
Prepare for the next big one. After each catastrophic event, Home Depot does a postmortem on its response efforts so that employees and managers can become more experienced and better prepared. Before Katrina hit, the company prestaged extra supplies and generators, sent 1,000 relief associates to work in the stores in the Gulf Region, and made sure that area stores were overstocked with first-response items such as insecticides, water, and home generators.
Scott Ford
CEO, Alltel
Take care of everybody. When Katrina hit, Alltel was missing 35 employees. When the company had found all but one, managers used the company’s network infrastructure to track her phone activity, contact the last person she had called, and work with the army to find her.
Paul Pressler
CEO, Gap
Empower the workforce. Gap had 1,300 employees affected by Katrina, and one of the biggest problems the company faced was getting people their paychecks. The company, which had extended payroll by 30 days to affected employees, now encourages all employees to use direct deposit as a means to ensure access to their pay.
Jim Skinner
CEO, McDonald’s
Be flexible with company assets. McDonald’s had 280 restaurants close in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but shortly afterward, 201 were already open. During the crisis, McDonald’s converted its human resource service center into a crisis command center. The quickly formed help center fielded 3,800 calls.
Robert Baugh
COO, Chiles Restaurants
With Hurricane Irma approaching, Baugh communicated with staff for several days before the storm to prepare and to find out which employees would be evacuating, which would be staying, and which had special needs. The Chiles Group used Hot Schedules, a platform all employees log into, to create a timeline to secure all three restaurants (since these restaurants have lots of outdoor seating and outdoor bars, it was a huge chore) and to broadcast when the restaurants would reopen. Team leaders were responsible for communicating with their members. Vendors and chefs were told earlier in the week to reduce food orders to minimize loss. Freezers and refrigerators were packed with hundreds of bags of ice.
Table 6.6 Sources: Danny Gavin, “Customer Service Lessons Learned in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey,” Forbes, September 26, 2017; Jay Steinfeld, “5 Lessons Learned from Hurricane Harvey,” Inc., September 21, 2017; Susan Burns and David Hackett, “Business Lessons from Hurricane Irma,” 941CEO, November-December 2017; “New Lessons to Learn,” Fortune, October 3, 2005, pp. 87–88; AZQuotes, Accessed February 25, 2018,

Such integrated functionality made dashboards extremely popular. A Gartner commentary suggests that companies put data and analytics at the heart of every company business decision.23 Despite the increasing popularity of dashboard technology, the control tool has some drawbacks, such as focusing too intently on short-term results and ignoring the overall progress toward long-term goals. And some employees might bristle at being monitored as closely as dashboard tools allow.

Nonetheless, companies are seeing real results from implementing dashboard software. Robert Romanoff, a partner at the law firm of Levenfeld Romanoff in Chicago, uses dashboards that aggregate data from clients, strategic partners, and internal staff from the mailroom to the boardroom to improve what he calls the 3 Ps. The 3 Ps are process efficiency, project management, and strategic pricing.24

A sample dashboard software is shown. On the screen there are many frames that contain bar graphs, numbers and statistics, color coded boxes, etc., all expressing data about software brand usage, total number of followers, key words, etc.
Exhibit 6.9 Marketing and sales professionals are increasingly turning to advanced software programs called “dashboards” to monitor business and evaluate performance. These computer tools use analytics and big data to help managers identify valuable customers, track sales, and align plans with company objectives—all in real time. A typical dashboard might include sales and bookings forecasts, monthly close data, customer satisfaction data, and employee training schedules. This example tracks customers attending the Consumer Electronics Show so that the buzz created by influencers can be measured. How does information technology affect managerial decision-making? (Credit: Intel Free Press/ flickr/ Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

Managing Multinational Cultures

The increasing globalization of the world market has created a need for managers who have global management skills, that is, the ability to operate in diverse cultural environments. With more and more companies choosing to do business in multiple locations around the world, employees are often required to learn the geography, language, and social customs of other cultures. It is expensive to train employees for foreign assignments and pay their relocation costs; therefore, choosing the right person for the job is especially important. Individuals who are open minded, flexible, willing to try new things, and comfortable in a multicultural setting are good candidates for international management positions.

As companies expand around the globe, managers will continue to face the challenges of directing the behavior of employees around the world. They must recognize that because of cultural differences, people respond to similar situations in very different ways. The burden, therefore, falls on the manager to produce results while adapting to the differences among the employees they manage.

How a manager gets results, wins respect, and leads employees varies greatly among countries, cultures, and individuals. For example, different cultures have different approaches to time. American, German, and Swiss cultures, among others, take a linear view of time, whereas southern European counties such as Italy take a multi-active time approach, and many Eastern cultures, such as China, take a cyclic approach. An American manager with a linear view of time will approach scheduling planning with a different approach than colleagues with a multi-active or cyclic approach.25 Despite differences such as these (examples of which can be cited for every country in the world), managing within a different culture is only an extension of what managers do every day: working with differences in employees, processes, and projects.

Concept Check

  1. How can information technology aid in decision-making?
  2. What are three principles of managing multinational cultures?
  3. Describe several guidelines for crisis management.
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