What Managers Can Learn from Malik


What is a manager and why does he or she have a lot of accountability? Their job is to add to the overall success of the organisation holistically even across services and divisions. That is the big picture everyone should keep focused on. It does not add value to the organisation if one particular part of the organisation excels while others are falling apart.

Today we are taking a look at what Prof. Dr. Fredmund Malik teaches about effective management in business. In this article I am not differentiating that a manager is a different role than a leader is. In the optimal case a manager is always also the non-authoritative leader in a certain sphere.

About Fredmund Malik

Fredmund Malik is an Austrian economist with focus on management science and the founder and chairman of a management consultancy in St. Gallen. Malik applies systems theory and cybernetics to analyse and design management systems.

Organizations and Teams Need Clearly Defined Goals

Goals should be designed individually and should be meaningful for the whole organisation. On the other side not every employee needs to be assigned with a goal beyond their task. The essence here is a  to find the balance on quality and quantity of distributed goals and not just make up irrelevant objectives for the sake of having an objective.


Around 70 to 80% of a manager is dedicated to and owned by others, which limits his or her availability significantly. Concentrate on preparing core deliverables in top quality and reduce wasteful activities as good as possible. The only way to leverage your remaining time is by following good practices on prioritisation and critical thinking. Every time you set a priority on a task this is a small decision you are taking. Don’t underestimate that.

Put the Organisational Interest in Front of the Personal Interest

Analyse matters thoroughly and create your own path to a solution. Often the proposed means and ways are not the optimal ones and you can rely on your experience and knowledge to prepare action items yourself. Who you assign such items with depends on available time and talent. It does not always need to be put together by yourself. Ask yourself “What is this really about?” and “What is the actual goal that should be achieved here?”. Concentrate on core business and activities. If those are in good state you can overdeliver as much as you are able to.

Concentrate More on the Output than on the Input

Delegation is not about randomly assigning people with tasks but about utilising the strengths of individuals and building out on existing talent. You need to know your team and their individual expertise as well as their interests. In best case scenario you can assign tasks that are at the intersection of these two factors. If you don’t consider the interest of staff they can certainly deliver a great product but if that happens regularly they might be considering a job change.

Trust and Control

Another tightrope walk of management is the balance of trust and control. Matters like this heavily rely on the rapport you have with the team and maybe even differentiate on the level of individuals but you need to find a mode that both you and the team can work with. A possible way of setting a good environment for working up is by defining the mode together with everybody. If the team members know they are due to send an update every week and are diligent about it, you don’t need to chase based on authority either. You save time and prevent negative impacts on rapport if this is working out.


Being a manager you need to clear the path for your team. Remove obstacles and administrative hurdles as good as possible. You’re not there to boss people around so you have nothing to do. You know that – but make your team feel it as well.

The Intrapreneurial Manager

It might not apply to all management positions out there but a manager should be also involved with financials and budget planning. You need to account for upscale and downscale alike. Think entrepreneurial about your team, as if you where a service provider within a company. Such shift of mindset is also known as Intrapreneurship. If that is alien to you, you’d might find this Forbes article by Dan Schawbel interesting.

Continuous Improvement

Be open for critique and continuously try to improve yourself. There is no perfect state but you can improve every day. Reserve some time in your week (or even on monthly recurrence) for actively analyzing things that did not go so well recently and prepare for a counter action to achieve a sustainable improvement.


Everybody can be a manager whether they studied it or not. You need to learn as much about it as you can and follow the rules you set yourself. Walk the talk – because nobody is going to follow your rules if you don’t.

Further Reading

YouTube: Prof. Dr. Fredmund Malik on Management by Objectives

Photo credit: Rory MizenVenessa Miemis / Goza Lewis

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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