What makes a good Manager?
I am wondering about what makes a good manager? Should I read a book on that?
I am wondering about what makes a good manager? Should I read a book on that?
Now that is a good question. This one goes down to one of the roots of the problem of failing companies.
A manager must clearly see his position in the value chain of a company.
A manager is never doing the work of a technician.
A manager is never an entrepreneur.
A manager makes sure that the customer receives the ordered products for the price agreed upon, in the quality agreed upon, and within the delivery time agreed upon. Not more and not less.
Companies often fail because they do not have the right managers.
Technicians often want to provide a better product than agreed upon, just because they have technician mindsets. These products often become too expensive and they take too much time before they can be delivered to the customer.
Being a good manager is in the first place a question of personality. Good managers - different from a good technician and a good entrepreneur - often live in the past. Good managers often love to keep and to organize collections, such as postage stamps or vintage cars.
A good manager prevents the entrepreneur and the technician from scratching each other's eyes out. Technicians are often too slow and not enough flexible in the eyes of an entrepreneur. Technicians often suffer under the pressure of entrepreneurs.
These differences between managers, technicians, and entrepreneurs are just a few of the many differences that exist.
A must-read book about the difference between managers, technicians, and entrepreneurs is Michael Gerber, "The E-Myth".
Here are some thumb rules for managers:
#1: managers never do the work themselves, they use rewards or they tap shoulders and kick reverse sides to get the job done. Learn about what motivates people.
#2: if it is important, create intensity by following up more often.
#3: if chasing over one channel (e.g. email) does not work then chose another channel (e.g. phone).
#4: refuse to take leadership responsibility for technicians that question your job duties and that finally do not comply.
A manager is not a title, it is a role that i am sure everyone will get to play at some time in their lives.
If you ever have to chase youself to get out of bed in the morning, then you are a manager. As long as you have to interact with people (including yourself) to get a job done, you are a manager.
This is why we should all try to learn how to be a good manager.
The Michael Gerber "The E-myth" as already introduced above is a good place to start. It will describe how the 'manager' role or mindset fits into the business and in society.
Personally, I like this book the best,"Powerful" by Patty Mccord. If you work with teams, reading this book will be like sending your brain to a gym session. This book has one simple, but powerful message throughout: The job of management job is simply to create great teams that do amazing work on time.
So in other words:
A manager is an enabler, not a doer. His responsibility is not to do the material work, but it is simply to do whatever it takes to provide an environment for the team members to do good work.
So how to do that?
There several techniques for "providing an environment for the team members to do good work", four of which are already provided by Martin Schweiger above. I would say the thumb rule #1 mentioned is the most important: You need to learn what motivates the people and build an environment from that. Pick up any sales book and read. I would say most of the techniques for converting a client (listening, diagnosing the postitives and negatives, designing a solution) is the same for motivating people. Afterall, if you want people's buy-in and do good work for you, you need to start by making a sale to them, right?
You are responsible for a whole gang of people that you probably didn’t pick, may not like, and might have nothing in common with and who perhaps won’t like you much.
You have to coax out of them a decent day’s work. You are also responsible for their physical, emotional, and mental safety and care. You have to make sure they don’t hurt themselves—or each other. You have to ensure they can carry out their jobs according to whatever rules your industry warrants.
You have to know your rights, their rights, the company’s rights, and the government’s rights. And on top of all this, you’re expected to do your job as well. Oh yes, and you have to remain cool and calm—you can’t shout, throw things, or have favorites.
This management business is a tall order.... You are responsible for looking after and getting the best out of a team. This team may behave at times like small children—and you can’t smack them* (or possibly even fire them). At other times they will behave like petulant teenagers—sleeping in late, not showing up, refusing to do any real work if they do show up, quitting early—that sort of thing.
* Yes, yes, I know you can’t smack children either.I was just making a point. Please don’t email me.
Like you, I’ve managed teams (in my case, up to 100 people at a time). People whose names I was expected to know and all their little foibles—ah, Heather can’t work late on a Tuesday because her daughter has to be picked up from her play group. Trevor is color blind, so we can’t use him at the trade show.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR A WHOLE GANG OF PEOPLE THAT YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T PICK, MAY NOT LIKE, MIGHT HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON WITH AND WHO PERHAPS WON’T LIKE YOU MUCH.
Mandy sulks if left to answer the phones at lunchtime and loses customers. Chris is great in a team but can’t motivate herself to do anything solo. Ray drinks and shouldn’t be allowed to drive anywhere.
As a manager, you are also expected to be a buffer zone between higher management and your staff. Nonsense may come down from on high but you have to a) sell it to your team, b) not groan loudly or laugh, and c) get your team to work with it even if it is nonsense. You also have to justify the “no pay raises this year” mentality even if it has just completely demotivated your team. You will have to keep secret any knowledge you have of takeovers, mergers, acquisitions, secret deals, senior management buyouts and the like, despite the fact that rumors are flying and you are being constantly asked questions by your team. You are responsible not only for people but also for budgets, discipline, communications, efficiency, legal matters, union matters, health and safety matters, personnel matters, pensions, sick pay, maternity leave, paternity leave, holidays, time off, time sheets, tight deadlines and leaving presents, industry standards, fire drills, first aid, fresh air, heating, plumbing, parking spaces, lighting, stationery, resources, and tea and coffee. And that’s not to mention the small matter of customers.
AS A MANAGER, YOU ARE ALSO EXPECTED TO BE A BUFFER ZONE BETWEEN HIGHER MANAGEMENT AND YOUR STAFF.
And you will have to fight with other departments, other teams, clients, senior bosses, senior management, the board, shareholders and the accounts department. (Unless of course you are the manager of the accounts department.)
You are also expected to set standards. This means you are going to have to be an on-time, up-front, smartly dressed, hardworking, industrious, late-staying, early-rising, detached, responsible, caring, knowledgeable, above-reproach juggler. Tall order.
You also need to accept that as a manager you may be ridiculed—think The Office—and possibly even judged by your staff, shareholders and the public to be ineffective and even superfluous to the carrying out of the actual job in hand.* *
If this all makes you feel a bit bleak about being a manager—don’t be. Managers are the stuff that runs the world. We get to lead, to inspire, to motivate, to guide, to shape the future. We get to make a difference to the business and to people’s lives. We get to make a real and positive contribution to the state of the world. We get not only to be part of the solution but also to provide the solution. We are the sheriff and the marshal and the ranger all rolled into one. We are the engine and the captain. It’s a great role and we should relish it—it’s just not always an easy role.... And all you wanted to do was your job....
Luckily there are a few hints and tips that will have you sailing through it looking cool, gaining points, and coming up smelling of roses. These are The Rules of Management—the unwritten, unspoken, unacknowledged Rules. Keep them to yourself if you want to stay one step ahead of the game.
Management is an art and a science. There are textbooks of thousands of pages devoted to how to do it. There are countless training courses. (You’ve probably been on a few.) However, what no textbook contains and no training course includes are the various “unwritten” rules that make you a good, effective and decent manager—the Rules of Management. Whether you are responsible for only one or two people or thousands—it doesn’t matter. The Rules are the same. You won’t find anything here you probably didn’t already know. Or if you didn’t know it, then you will read it and say, “But that’s really obvious.”
Yes, it is all really obvious, if you think hard enough about it. But in the fast-paced, frantic, just-about- coping kind of life we lead, you may not have thought about it lately. And what isn’t so obvious is whether you do it. It’s all very well saying “But I know that already.” Yes, as a smart person you probably do, but ask yourself honestly for each rule: Do you put it into practice, carry it out, work with it as standard? Are you sure?
from Richard Templar, The Rules Of Management - A Definitive Code for Managerial Success
just one more thought that I had when I wrote an article about the future virtual law firms:
A virtual environment makes that “little kingdom” set-up less likely to happen. In a work environment that is based on a division of labor like in our firm, the transition from brick-and-mortar to the cloud suddenly brought clear definitions of interfaces between responsibilities, and that firm-wide: we have no longer individuals who co-operate on the basis of a set of mostly unspoken rules, we have instead positions with clear sets of instructions that have to be followed in order to provide the required result. These positions are filled out by a team of people with similar expertise and experience, each individual wearing several hats at the same time, thereby being able to provide backup when needed. The former managers became more like workload balancers, and we have started to automate their load balancing work where possible. In such an environment, individual performance can easily be checked and compared. That reduces space for office politics. And no more coffee machine meetings are needed to be part of the gang.
Today, in a virtual law firm environment, it is just about doing your work reliably, and you are good."
here is a job that requires a lot of management skills: Air Traffic Control
Air Traffic Controllers are there to help the air traffic and not to demand submission.