What Does a Manager Do?
By: Bob De Contreras
One of the very important roles in a
company is that of the manager. Management includes group leaders, who sometimes
play the role of both manager and individual contributor, to section manager,
director, vice president, senior vice president, executive vice president and
chief executive officer. Each of these positions has a different scope of
responsibility, but they all have several things that they do in common.
foremost, they are all managers, even if some of them perform individual
contributor work. We define a manager as having three fundamental roles. First,
a manager is a leader. As a leader, the manager establishes and
directs the vision and mission of the team. In this capacity, the manager is the
source of visionary strength of the department and keeps the staff on a
consistent track to achieving the vision. Second, a manager is a project
manager. In this role, the manager is responsible for directing the
operational activities of the team by scheduling the utilization of the
department’s resources, including people and capital equipment. In this way, the
manager gets things done through the efforts of the people on the team. The
manager is responsible for establishing and executing the project plan that is
necessary to achieve the team’s mission. Third, a manager is a coach,
and as such picks the people for the team and improves the performance of people
through ongoing counseling. As a coach, the manager works with people to help
them become greater contributors by helping them improve their efficiency and
roles, a manager performs several duties that are very important to the
successful functioning of any team.
Strategy – The manager puts the
strategy in place to achieve the department’s vision and mission. In this
capacity, the manager works with team members to develop a strategy and
plan. Then a process is put in place that will be used to execute the
strategy. In most cases, this process is an element of the company’s overall
development process for purposes of developing your products.
Organization – The manager gets
the department organized to implement the process and guides all the project
activities using the process. All the schedules are established, laying out
the tasks that have to be performed to deliver the department’s product and
assigning the necessary resources to the people on the team.
Priorities – The manager
establishes priorities for projects and tasks and makes decisions required
when they have to change.
People – Making sure that the
right people are placed in the right job assignments, and that people get
further training to do their jobs is a key duty of the manager.
Solutions – The manager
facilitates problem solving, as needed, by directing the process of problem
solving with team members, lending expertise to the process.
Delegate – A very important duty
is to delegate responsibility and accountability. In doing this, the manager
gives people a clear role and a set of responsibilities, empowers them to
act, and holds them accountable for results. This is the art of management.
In getting the best out of people, a manager gives people the responsibility
they deserve, then coaches them in their work in order to make them the best
they can be, and finally holds them accountable for producing the results
that are expected.
Enable – A manager takes care of
people’s needs. The manager is an enabler for and ensures that people get
what they need in order to do their jobs. This includes equipment, training,
assistance, coordination, and time.
Communicator – One of the most
important duties is that of a communicator. The manager not only
communicates important information needed for people to do their jobs, but
also information that is necessary for people to understand the context of
their jobs. People generally want to know what the company vision and
strategy is. They want to know about markets, customers and competitors.
They want to know about key company initiatives and how it effects them. The
manager’s job is to make sure that people know what is going on and how they
Policy – The manager represents
the company and its policies. To the people in the department, their manager
is the company. Managers are familiar with company policy, communicate
policy to employees, and represent the management of the company.
Relationships – Building
relationships is a key aspect of the manager’s job. The manager’s job is to
establish positive and effective working relationships both inside and
outside the company. One of the value-added aspects of a manager's role is
that the manager knows people and can call upon their assistance to help the
department get its job done.
Environment – The manager
establishes and supports working relationship principles by creating an
environment where people can count on each other. It is important to know
what one can expect from another. The manager’s job is to coach people to
help them understand how the team operates and to give them the
understanding of each other’s role on the team.
Objectives – Establishing goals
and objectives for people is a key part of being a coach. As part of the
performance management process, the manager establishes performance goals
and objectives for people. This is a very formal part of the manager’s job.
Establishing the objectives for people and then letting them know how they
are performing in meeting the objectives is management’s bread and butter.
To get their best performance, people have to understand how they are
performing and be given the coaching necessary to improve. Ultimately, the
manager has to formally appraise the performance of their people. This
formal review becomes the determining factor for compensation changes and
Recognition – People need to be
recognized for a job well done. A manager makes sure that people are
recognized for their contributions and extraordinary efforts on the job. The
recognition should be timely. Recognition can take the form of anything from
a sincere thank you to a substantial monetary award. The important thing is
that people feel that they are appreciated for their extra effort.
Mentor – A manager is a mentor.
In this capacity, the manager advises people on their career goals and helps
them get the job assignments needed to move their careers forward. Although
people are responsible for their own careers, the manager can be a valued
advisor in career planning.
Manage Upward – Finally, a
manager manages upward. That is, the manager keeps higher levels of
management informed of their department’s progress that effect their
commitments. In addition, the manager advises upper management on key issues
and helps in the decision making process.
This is not
an exhaustive list of management duties, but it represents some of the most
important ones. These are the kinds of things that one should regularly expect
from management as they play out their three roles of leader, project manager
What Does a Manager Do Case Study
By: Bob De Contreras
What do managers do? The business schools tell us they
perform the five basic management functions of planning, organizing, staffing,
directing and controlling. And, these are the skills that aspiring new managers
are taught. But, what about all the other skills that are discussed in the main
article in this newsletter? Skills like strategy, priorities, relationships,
delegating, environment and others?
This begs the question, what do managers not know to do? A recent conversation
with a client was on this very topic. The CEO was asking for help with how to
get one of the team leaders to be more effective. There were issues visible
with interpersonal relationships at the office within the team and cross teams.
There were issues with dealing with prospective clients and existing clients.
There were issues of this employee being viewed as too aggressive and
demanding. There were issues of getting projects completed as well as delivered
on time. The CEO was asking us to coach the employee.
Before we agreed to work with
this team leader we had a talk to discuss the team leader’s view of management
and requirements to achieve success. We quickly discovered that the team leader
did not know the importance of interpersonal relationships in getting the job
done. This team leader actually believed that team members and non team members
had to help on any request just because of his positional power. He didn’t
understand why people didn’t want to come in early or stay late to work on
project deliverables. He didn’t understand why he needed to be polite with
other people. He had never heard the old adage that it’s easier to get
something done by offering honey rather than vinegar.
We discovered that these
attitudes spilled over onto how he dealt with clients. He was just as
assumptive and demanding with clients as he was with the other people internal
to his own company. But, at the same time he accepted every demand that a
client made – no matter how unreasonable. By accepting these demands he was
agreeing to have his company staff work long hours to meet unfair demands.
These extra hours cost the company profits.
The team leader ended up
doing a lot of the work himself. He didn’t know that he should delegate much
less how to delegate. Sadly, this team leader had never had a manager who
coached him in the art of delegation. He never had a manager who coached him in
the necessity to trust people who you delegate to. He never had a manager who
After this discussion with
the team leader we were back talking to the CEO. What we determined was
required was coaching for the CEO and all the managers. For the CEO it was
coaching on how to be a coach. This CEO has the experience and knowledge to
help his management team learn and be successful. What this CEO didn’t have was
the knowledge on how to coach his management team. We put a plan in place to
help him become a better coach.
We also put a plan in place
to work with the entire management team that focused on:
The combined effect of the
better coaching from senior management and improved skills in all the managers
allowed this company to improve customer satisfaction, employee productivity,
revenues, margin, and in the process all the employees had more fun. It only
took six months of dedicated work to see the improvements, but in the end the
company was improved from top to bottom.
Brought to you by:
Bob De Contreras
RTBA | Cary | Greensboro | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | North Caroliina
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