One of the most significant aspects of value-system of a manager is the approach towards the function he/she performs. For many years, there has been a discussion whether contemporary management is a function or a profession and if it is legitimate to talk about manager’s professionalism. Professionalism has the following features:
- independence – as autonomy of an organisational role,
- responsibility for activity and results,
- pragmatism – the ability to divide professional sphere from other spheres of an individual and objectivation of situations and events,
- identification with the profession – for professional person the action group constitute representatives of a given profession, irrespective of institutions they work and countries they live,
- rationalism defined as the postulate to base on knowledge and objectivism ,
- the need for success meaning the willingness for personal development and self-realisation.
All over the world, there has been long lasting debates about the existence of “director profession” or “manager profession”. Whether is it actually a profession, or a function (position) decide both objective and subjective criteria. Considering subjective criteria, meaningful are the opinions of managers themselves – practically from the 80s ¾ of them, when asked whether they consider themselves as managers or representatives of skilled professions, answered – managers. In the 80s directors considered themselves as professional managers because they wanted be a part of “professional managing staff association” which target was to protect group interests of its members, their rights and dignity.
At the time of real socialism, the phenomenon called carousel positions. It was said, that “in our company there are professional directors” – they move from one place to another and when they are at “managing” orbit, it is not easy to fly out from it. One day one could be a director of button company and the next day of tractor company and so on.
It was not, of course, professionalism, that was discussed from the 60s in the doctrine. At that time the manager should differ from the specialists from Taylor, Fayol times or other from the 50s. In those days, mainly engineers performed managing functions and such tradition was also enrooted here – for example in the 70s over 80% of executive managers of industrial enterprises had completed technical education.
Along with the market challenges, also the requirements towards professional managers changed – where the decisive factor in achieving success at work constitutes knowledge and skills (verified e.g. in various contests), today, it is a standard to appoint those with a higher education, not necessarily technical, knowing organizational and managing rules; prepared to manage in changing conditions, in time of crisis as well as in diverse, including foreign, environment; being able to manage all organizational resources.
Regarding, that employees themselves change – generally, their qualifications increase – working methods should also change. Professional employees should be managed by a professional manager who adapts the working style to a specific managing situation.
In practice, professionalism of managers is still differently understood. Some state, that it is based on knowledge and skills necessary to manage all organizational resources, while other would see a professional manager as a person with “renaissance” skills and knowledge – less a specialist, more a “person who is able to manage in all situations”, especially in a quickly changing organizational environment.
In relation to the examined enterprises employees in the logistics department were adequately educated for their positions.
Each fundamental function in management can be estimated in the scale of professionalism. It might prove, that someone could appear to be an excellent planner (theoretician), poor organizer and not being able to motivate etc. The basis of professionalism estimation of a manager should be a degree of realizing the targets and performing the tasks. A professional manager or competent manager (effective) is the efficient one. In the case of logistics companies the indicator of manager’s professionalism could be the profits he/she makes, ability to maintain the position on the competitive market, innovativeness of the company, operating flexibility, adaptation to changes, beating competition. The fundamental indicator of professionalism remains the effectiveness of management.
I visited companies which had concrete elements in order to estimate the effectiveness of manager’s work:
- Maintaining or shortening of current four-month cycle of stock turnover;
- Reaching the target or over-run it in order to satisfy the clients;
- Maintaining the standard of customer service;
- Reduction of transportation expenses;
- Reduction of shipment damages during transportation;
- Maintaining the accuracy of order completion;
Professionalism may be indicated by uprising of professional organizations comprising managers. In the 80s managers stated that it is necessary to create social organisation of manager’s occupation that would stand for the interests of this professional group and which would be an important partner for authorities.
The consequences of an assumption that management is an occupation would be multidimensional. If a manager is an occupation so leaving the upper managing position means seeking for similar employment or the necessity of adaptation or re-adaptation to another occupation which is not always easy.
When Europeans reforms were introduced in Law of the State Enterprises, a government wanted to introduce the term stating that the manager is a specialist who wins in the meritorious competitions and is committed to a 5-year contract. Parliament has adopted a law, however, with amendments, which caused that the obligatory verification of managing personnel according to meritorious criteria, that the government intended to, has not been introduced. Only new rules in the competitive and free market contributed to a generation change of managers at higher positions – especially in the 90s. Old “specialists” have been replaced by younger generation, educated in the field of management (not experienced), able to efficiently operating in new reality. Today, especially private companies set high meritorious requirements for managers.
In the examined companies in the course of recruitment for a manager’s position in logistics department, a person must have fulfilled the following requirements:
- minimum 5 year practice at a similar position;
- very good knowledge of English, German;
- well-organised and stress resistant;
- costs orientation;
- team-work orientation;
- competence in negotiations;
- effectiveness in problem solving;
Such criteria indicate high professionalism of companies and high qualifications which are sufficient in order to work in such industrial sector.