Or to put this differently:
Why on earth can’t your otherwise competent, intelligent and knowledgeable manager(s) do their job as you expect them to?
And how come that when it’s your managers job to make a difficult decision, they often don’t and you have to get involved?
If I’m describing a situation that occurs in your business, then you’ll know how frustrating it is, not to mention the extra time you end up putting in to help your manager in addition to the time you’d normally expect to provide as support.
So, how can you help your manager(s) to do a better job of ‘managing’?
There are generally two parts to the solution.
Firstly, remove all fear from them, that if they make a bad decision you’ll be unhappy with them – and all that entails.
This is not too difficult to do. Once you agree clear boundaries to your manager’s area of responsibility and you define their authority to operate within those boundaries, you and they understand that you will fully support them in whatever decision they make, you’ll find that most managers will do a significantly better job.
Secondly, most managers in a small business don’t fully understand their role or what they are there to do. They may not have had the role of a manager explained to them, so they aren’t too sure what they are there to do or what’s expected of them.
If you never had this explained to you when you were a manager, perhaps in a small business, then you might find it a challenge explaining it to your own managers.
I meet and work with a lot of managers during my business coaching and I’ve found that by working on these two points – the managers fear and helping them understand more clearly their responsibilities, you will have progressed towards having a manager(s) that does a far better job of managing.
If you’d like help your manager(s) better understand their role and improve as a manager, I’ve summarised an approach you may wish to consider. It’s in three parts:
- The Manager’s Role
- The Manager’s Tasks
- Program of Improvement
The Manager’s Role
The President of the Managers Association once defined management as “Management means developing people, not organising things.”
But surely, this is not sufficiently inclusive in describing all the different types of manager that exist – General Managers, Production Managers, Service Managers, Sales Managers, etc.
What then is the specific function of a manager? What distinguishes the manager from the supervisor, the administrator, or the entrepreneur? Let’s look more closely at the functions of managers.
- They make decisions – but so do others.
- They check-up – but they’re not the only ones who check-up.
- They motivate – but the trainer, sales manager and seminar leader also does this.
- They plan – but there are specialists for this too.
So what can we apply to the manager, that is exclusive and a characteristic of the manager alone?
And here it is:
Managers exist to initiate changes and to see there are prompt reactions to those changes.
If there were nothing to change: if there were no changes demanding reactions from companies and organisations, then managers would be unnecessary.
In short – to manage means, to change.
There are specialists in all companies – editors, salespeople, finance people, administrators, marketing people, all doing what has been set out for them.
By contrast, managers take action when things don’t develop normally, or when something needs to be changed. They are the ones who make changes.
Managers are there to ensure that something new happens, despite human laziness or a lack of interest from some of those involved. They ensure that their bit of the business goes in the right direction and operates in the right way. They react to something new appearing on the horizon that requires a reaction, e.g. competitor activities.
So, it seems clear that managers are in the world to change it – and when we look carefully, we see that many of them do it effectively and with remarkable efficiency.
The Manager’s Tasks
So, what’s the role of a manager?
Well, only one thing is certain: that a manager is destined to do the best they can with the tools at their disposal and with something that’s basically imperfect.
The manager’s role entails three functions:
What’s a manager in the business to do?
- Set Objectives. The best possible objectives for today and the foreseeable future, for others and themselves.
- What specifically does the manager want?
- What innovation needs to be put in place and adopted?
- What are the gaps in the market that can be exploited, to the benefit of our company and team?
- See to it that the objectives are fully achieved within the timescale allowed, despite all difficulties and issues.
What’s expected of managers in the way of achievements?
Basically, there are two:
- Correct, bold decisions based on where the business is heading in the future.
- A fully committed, motivated and co-ordinated team. Not only the team under their control, but also colleagues, suppliers, customers, the public, etc.
What’s the relationship between the manager and their environment?
The manager has three main relationships in their work environment:
- To the people they set in motion;
- To the information they receive and convert into decisions;
- To the time they consume to get their team to act and convert information into decisions.
When you sit down with your manager(s) to take them through a program of improvement, consider discussing these three elements with them:
Program of Improvement
Dealing with other people – motivation.
As a manager, you are the ‘centre of energy’, a ‘guiding beacon’ operating at the heart of the business. Your task includes influencing other people, to work with them and get them pointing in the right direction.
To this we can add – handling people correctly. Not only your team of subordinates under your control, but upwards as well e.g. your boss.
Dealing with information – making decisions.
This includes distinguishing the essential information from the non-essential. Bear in mind that you are not judged what you did or how you did a task, but on the outcome of your decisions.
Invariably, dealing with information properly is all about understanding the situation that is presenting itself (especially when it’s confused) and then having the courage to make the right decision.
Dealing with oneself.
How can you plan and utilise your time more purposefully and avoid becoming a slave to your job?
Much of this is about working efficiently with the time that’s available.
I hope you find this helpful.