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Welcome to the exciting world of management studies
A new series on management education. All about what it means, the ground covered, the options available to a student and how good it is as a career. But first, what is management?

The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work."

Management education has assumed tremendous reputation in recent times as an attractive career option. Many professional graduates in streams, including engineering and technology, opt for business school programmes, with a view to furthering their job potential, and deriving better job satisfaction. Management offers one of the most exciting and rewarding careers for the right persons.

Often a question is raised as to what exactly is management. Is it just managing institutions? Does it call for special skills, apart from common sense and dedicated work? In order to perform well as a manager, should one undergo the rigours of institutional training in this discipline, as in medicine, engineering, architecture, geology, physical therapy, or biotechnology?

Management has been defined variously. Some say that it is just getting things done through people. However, there are certain core concepts pertaining to management. It involves a variety of functions depending on the circumstances. The important functions of management are: planning, organising, leading and controlling/coordinating the work of members of an organisation. The available resources will have to be deployed most effectively. This comprises human, material, financial, and intellectual resources. The basic process involves setting objectives and achieving them through effective strategies. Storing information, monitoring, and taking steps for course-correction are integral parts of any managerial effort. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Judging a manager
How well a manager performs is judged by how well he/she gets things done, utilising the resources on hand. He/she has to be a go-getter at all times. He/she should have fine people skills.

Often one has to emphasise what management is not, since there is a lot of misunderstanding about the structure and functions of management. It is not an agglomeration of general theories and description of procedures. It is not just an exercise in qualitative appreciation; it involves structured quantitative estimates, analysis, and derivation of the best courses of action.

Is it necessary for people aspiring to occupy managerial positions to learn theories of management? Is not some experience in the line sufficient to come up as good managers?

The response to this question is that one should have a sound theoretical background to take up the challenges offered by the complexities of modern management. The theories do help us to appreciate what is relevant and what is not, and also to prioritise the areas that have to be focused.

Objective analysis of management problems and their solution, handling people, budgeting, assessing financial implications of various operations, effective communication, and building relationships become easier with the strength given by theoretical study of management science.

We should bear in mind that sound theories in management have not come from armchair intuition, but from the results of case studies by experienced experts in real life situations in different environments.

Managerial functions
We mentioned certain functions of management. Let us look at these in some depth.

Planning: Planning involves thinking ahead in respect of the goals and objectives to be achieved and the actions to be taken in a systematic manner based on sound logic and feasible methods. We may come across confusing terms such as goals, objectives and tasks.

Goals are often general statements, but objectives are more specific. Goals may be likened to a mission.

The Hindu - Education Plus - Monday, December 18, 2006