October 23, 2013| 0

Management and employees à la Peter Drucker

Dr. Gerhard Steinke, Ph.D., CISSP
October 18, 2013

Joe Maciariello, Director of Research at the Drucker Institute, worked with Peter Drucker and knew him well. Joe spoke at Management as a Liberal Art: Insights from Peter Drucker, Our Christian Faith and the Practice of Management, a workshop held the day before the Christian Business Faculty Association’s annual conference began at Olivet Nazarene University. Joe co-authored Drucker’s Lost Art of Management with Karen Linkletter, published in 2011.

Joe expanded on a few of Drucker’s well-known views of management, discussed his Lutheran upbringing, and provided insights into his worldview and theological understanding. He also described Søren Kierkegaard’s profound impact on Drucker’s understanding of and deep respect for people as individuals.

Drucker believed that managers must hold individuals in high regard because they are responsible and accountable to a higher power (the Christian God). As management learned more about people and the human condition, he believed it would lead them to want to value and develop their employees. Individuals need meaning and purpose in life, and Drucker believed some of it would derive from their contributions to work. If an organization realized that it was providing employees with meaning and purpose in addition to work, it would encourage the organization to invest more deeply in developing individuals’ skills and abilities; and listen to and encourage innovative ideas. And employees who found meaning and purpose in their work would be energized to work with more enthusiasm, loyalty, and commitment to help realize the organization’s vision and mission. This sounds like a description of human flourishing!

In the opposite spirit, when work demands too much time and energy and overtakes other priorities in an employee’s life, it may be that God is saying it’s time to leave that organization. Speakers at the workshop included successful business leaders who shared their own stories. Gloria Nelund, a senior Wall Street banker, and Shundrawn Thomas, who worked at a Wall Street investment firm, both told how they left their positions at times of high achievement. Their reasons were partly a result of employers’ expectations, and partly a desire to give more time and energy to personal priorities.

Can God make a difference in how we manage people? Drucker’s answer is a resounding, “Yes!” And it begins with knowing the human condition, treating employees as valuable individuals, and helping them toward greater meaning and purpose in their lives.

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Dr. Steinke is Professor of Management and Information Systems in SPU's School of Business and Economics, where he has taught for more than 20 years.

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