What’s the manager’s role? Unfortunately managers tend to have a very different answer to that than employees.
Everything most managers do falls into one of two categories: things they’re forced to do, and things they want to do.
But they’re not forced to do many of the things they should do, and they shouldn’t do many of the things they want to do.
So, what should managers do? And please note, this guide is about management, not about leadership. These two are often mixed together, but a manager isn’t necessarily a leader.
What are managers for?
Manager’s role is something most people never seriously think about. And the first answers that come to mind are usually wrong.
Here are the five most important aspects of a manager’s role. The first three are commonly agreed on, though many avoid following the advice. But most managers don’t even want to hear about the last two.
You could compress the manager’s role into, “Enable your employees to work, and then stay out of their way.”
1. Take care of management issues.
Paperwork is precisely what managers are made for (sorry to be so blunt, but let me explain). Imagine a work environment without a person who takes care of the team’s paperwork.
There has to be someone who makes sure everybody knows what they’re supposed to do and where they should be.
But it’s not your job to tell anyone how to do their job. Don’t confuse this with denying help. Don’t micromanage, but be available to help if they need it.
2. Enable others to work.
Taking care of the paperwork is just a tiny portion of this. You need to make sure people have what they need to do their job.
Communicate with other departments to know you’re on the same page. Delegate projects and tasks evenly to make sure everything gets done. The list of simple, but really important, tasks that managers should do is long.
Most importantly, make sure people have ,what they need for their work. And make sure nothing is holding them back.
3. Motivate your employees.
Most managers will intuitively say something about motivating people if asked about the manager’s role. But most managers don’t actually motivate anyone.
Most managers don’t know how to motivate people. And it’s not high on their list of things to learn. What managers often do when they attempt to motivate, actually takes away motivation.
Goals can be good motivators, but only if they’re mutual. Too often managers set goals that aren’t interesting for the employees.
A goal is motivating if reaching it is rewarding. The reward doesn’t have to be money. Recognition is usually the best reward.
4. Give all credit to others.
After a successful project a good manager is forgotten. The team should feel they did it all by themselves without your help. And if your bosses call to congratulate, you tell them they should thank your team.
Your job is only to enable others to do a great job. You can congratulate yourself for hiring the right people, giving them the necessary tools, keeping distractions away, and so on.
Why should you give away credit? Because you only enabled the success. It would be like congratulating the Sun for a good wine.
5. Take all the blame.
This is the part where becoming a manager starts to look like a choice only an idiot would make. If something goes wrong, anything at all, it’s always your fault.
The extreme example: if you need to fire someone, then you either made a mistake hiring them, or you should’ve done something before things escalated into firing.
Never let your boss complain to your subordinates, it’s your job to be the buffer. It’s intimidating to be criticized by your boss. And it’s even more intimidating to be criticized by your boss’s boss.
Besides forgetting (or avoiding) what the manager’s role is, many managers do these common mistakes. If you even avoid these mistakes, your employees will like you.
Top 3 Management Mistakes
- Don’t micromanage. If you tell people how to do their job, it looks like you don’t trust them. If you don’t trust your employees, then hire better employees.
- Don’t ask people to do anything you wouldn’t do. This is the easiest way to destroy motivation and company culture.
- Don’t highlight mistakes, ever. Always find a positive way to explain issues. Show how things should be done, instead of explaining how someone messed up.
As a manager you have a key role in building the company culture. The way you act will quickly reflect to the entire company. I have more experience of managers who don’t understand their role. So, please take the time to understand what you’re supposed to do.
In case you’re wondering what’s the difference to leadership, I’ll write about that later this week.
How would you describe a manager’s role? Do you have experiences you could share? The comments section below is just for that.
And feel free to send this to your boss, if you dare (Co-workers and/or your equals in the company food chain, may be a safer choice. There’s a chance your boss is as unwilling to understand their role, as many other managers are.)