What is a manager?

By April 23, 2014 October 14th, 2014 All members, Management

Remarkably, over the past few days I have been asked no fewer than five times, “what is a manager?” Help is at hand!

What is management?

Before we can ask ‘what is a manager’, we need to ask ‘what is management’. The dictionary definition is “the control or administration of an organisation or group of staff.” In practice, it includes one or more of these:

  • Coordinating internal and/or external resources to produce a complex deliverable
  • Helping people to work together to effectively deliver stuff
  • Helping people work together towards a common organisational goal
  • A check on consistency of approach and expenditure, usually through agreed processes
  • Developing individuals skills in a way that enhances their contribution both now and in the future
  • Resolving conflicts and poor performance issues
  • A helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect

How much of each of these your organisation has (or needs) depends upon things such as size, age, sector, complexity of deliverables and culture.

Benefits to an organisation of having managers

Managers do the process of management. No organisation can do without management of some sort, if it is to survive. Effective management saves time, effort and costs.

In small organisations, the manager is usually the overall business leader as well. A significant challenge for most people!

As your organisations grows, the amount of time needed to be an effective business leader will become less as the time needed for management increases. This point varies according to the organisation, but signs that you need a manager other than yourself is when people start doing their own thing, acting in unexpected ways or not delivering what and when you expected them to.

When organisations get very large, they will often have layers of managers. Be aware that this can create bureaucracy i.e. additional processes that over time may not add value.

Good managers

  • Have broad experience of a business area similar to yours
  • Have Empathy i.e. the ability to see the world through other people’s eyes
  • Have excellent communications skills (written and spoken)
  • Are assertive
  • Are well organised
  • Delegate effectively
  • Command respect, but not fear
  • Like people
  • Know how to develop other people
  • Understand goal setting and planning
  • Have a ‘light touch’

I have been mentoring existing managers and high value individuals to become managers for over 20 years, mostly in technology and engineering.

Almost anyone can be trained and/or mentoring to become a good manager. Some just take longer than others!

More information

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