Fred Luthans and his associates looked at what managers do from a somewhat different perspective. 9 They asked, “Do managers who move up the quickest in an organization do the same activities and with the same emphasis as managers who do the best job?” You might think the answer is yes, but that’s not always the case.
Luthans and his associates studied more than 450 managers. All engaged in
four managerial activities:
1. Traditional management. Decision making, planning, and controlling.
2. Communication. Exchanging routine information and processing paperwork.
3. Human resource management. Motivating, disciplining, managing conflict, staffing, and training.
4. Networking. Socializing, politicking, and interacting with outsiders.
The “average” manager spent 32 percent of his or her time in traditional management activities, 29 percent communicating, 20 percent in human resource management activities, and 19 percent networking. However, the time and effort different individual managers spent on those activities varied a great deal. As shown in Exhibit 1-2 , among managers who were successful (defined in terms of speed of promotion within their organization), networking madethe largest relative contribution to success, and human resource management activities made the least relative contribution. Among effective managers (defined in terms of quantity and quality of their performance and the satisfaction and commitment of employees), communication made the largest relative contribution and networking the least. More recent studies in Australia,Israel, Italy, Japan, and the United States confirm the link between networking and social relationships and success within an organization. 10 And the connection between communication and effective managers is also clear. A study of 410 U.S. managers indicates those who seek information from colleagues and employees—even if it’s negative—and who explain their decisions are the most effective. 11
This research offers important insights. Successful managers give almost the opposite emphases to traditional management, communication, human resource management, and networking as do effective managers. This finding challenges the historical assumption that promotions are based on performance, and it illustrates the importance of networking and political skills in getting ahead in organizations.