Role of a Manager

Dr Vijay Sangam, 12:22, 23 Jul 2010

Carter McNamara defined organization as, “Basically, an organization in its simplest form (and not necessarily a legal entity, e.g., corporation or LLC), is a person or group of people intentionally organized to accomplish an overall, common goal or set of goals. Business organizations can range in size from one person to tens of thousands.”

Organization means people.  In order to direct a group of people towards a common goal, we need a manager.  Who is a manager? Is there any difference between Manager and Management?

In my opinion, management is, “a strategic activity of setting the goals for the organization and effectively Planning, Managing, Controlling and Supporting people and manage other resources to achieve the targeted objectives.”

As people are very precious element of the resources pool, we need a person who can manage all resources including humans in a most effective way to contribute to the success of management.  And that person is the Manager. Hence, I would define a Manager as, “a person responsible for making things happen with the help of a group of people he is responsible”.

Is there a difference between a Manager and a Leader?

The basic difference is that a Manager will have subordinates and where as a Leader will have followers.  And the manager is appointed and the leader is chosen.  Can a manager become a leader?  Certainly, but very rarely!

As we are discussing about the role of a Manager, let me share my thoughts on how a manager can be effective in making organization efficient.

Manager of Deliverables

Manager’s primary objective is to manage and achieve targeted outcome of a given task.  Performance of a manager will be measured periodically based on certain key parameters.  Is this is the only task of a manager?  No.  S/he has to manager their routine jobs such as, selling products, executing logistics plans, administering human resources etc.  As we all know that Manager is responsible for a group of people, he may have to excel not only as an individual team member but also collectively as a team manager.  He has to make the team deliver the targeted results and also contribute to the team’s success.

In short a manager will have a dual role as an individual team player and as a team manager.  Manager is responsible for planning and developing a strategy and also executes the same with the help of his team.  Manager should be ideally a visionary, who can see tomorrow and develop contingency plans in advance to counter any adverse results.

In lean organizations, we come across managers and people managers.  A manager need not be a people manager.  S/he is given the title of a manager to reflect his/her hierarchy level with in the organization.  S/he may not manage a team.  As explained above, s/he may not handle the duel role.  However, s/he would be responsible for managing the outcomes.

Manager as Coordinator

The manager has to effectively play the role of managing the team to deliver meaningful and fruitful results.  The manager should understand individual strengths and weaknesses of the team members and allocate work efficiently to extract the best out of the team.  The work allocation should be balanced and at the same time aligned to the corporate goals.

Manager should ensure that the structure of the organization allows it’s basic activities to be carried out; giving directs; defining responsibilities; making decisions and backing these up by an efficient system and training the staff.  Every individual will have his/her own style of doing things.  However, it is the responsibility of the manager to make sure that this group of individuals adopt the standard process in delivering the tasks.  I feel this is a very critical responsibility of a Manager.

Manager as Catalyst

As well as managing and coordinating the activities of the team, a manager must act as a facilitator.  Understanding diverse skill set of the team and taking advantage of the same to achieve the common goal is the most critical function of a manager. The manager as a catalyst must focus on maintaining team harmony and make use of team’s energy to achieve the given task within set parameters.  Manager also becomes a change agent as a facilitator.  As humans feel uncomfortable if they are drawn out of their comfort zones, it is the responsibility of the manager to educate the team about the objectives of the organization and encourage them to hone the unexplored capabilities of the team.

Contributing and adding value to the process is different.  Contribution is merely delivering identified tasks.  However, the manager should make sure that each member delivers value addition in order to gain competitive advantage for the organization.

The manager as coach

An efficient manager will understand the ability of each individual in the team and extract the best of out of the team.  A team may consist of brilliant who may be haughty, average guys who may be conservative and good guys but technically week.  Manager as a coach should make sure that brilliant guys share the knowledge with technically week team members and act as a change agent to draw the conservative team members out of their shell/own world and make them adapt the change.  As explained earlier manager has a duel role, he should skilfully make use of his/her time to perform the individual duties as well as efficiently make use of team strengths to address weaknesses and at the same time stand out as a change agent to drive the new thinking.  The goals are mere milestones, the journey to achieve those milestones is critical.  The manager as a coach may have to make sure that the journey is enjoyable and mutually profitable.

In order to succeed as a coach, the manager should develop curtails skills and they include:

  • Listening Skills,
  • Clarity in communication to avoid barriers,
  • Negotiating Skills,
  • Developing empathy,
  • Ability to influence others.

The manager as politician

In short a manager should also be a  juggler. As often office environment is politically contaminated, the political skills of the manager will rescue him/her from a critical situations.  Managers are required to often engage in negotiations with the key stake holders of the organization.  Being politically correct would help the manager to end up with best possible results through such negotiations.  Being politically correct will help managers to get things done from cross functional team in order to achieve his team’s goals.  Getting things done through a formal process is highly challenging in a matrix organization.  Manager who is able to maintain informal channels and get things done informally is considered as successful manager.  Further, manager in the role of a politician should be able to resolve the conflicts within the team without hurting any one’s emotions.

The manager as a Leader

As mentioned earlier, seldom managers are leaders.  Ideally, managers should be leaders in order to take the organization into next level.  We have seen some illustrious leaders who managed their teams efficiently to achieve the glory; they include Henry Ford, Jack Welsh of GE, Steve Jobs of Apple Computers, Michael Dell of DELL Computers, Ratan Tata of TATA, Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani of Relliance industries and many more.  All above mentioned illustrious leaders could be considered as a business leader, but they do manage large teams in achieving the shareholder’s expectations.

Power is bestowed on a manager in order to manage the teams effectively.  In my opinion the manager should put to use the “power” in order to extract the best possible results from the team and not to threaten the team to succumb to his/her authority.

A true leader would empower the team to discharge their duties effectively and help organization to achieve the targeted goals.  A true manager should never be worried about sharing the wisdom and making each team member a leader.  A true leader will never feel threatened working with an intellectual group of team members. A true leader and successful manager will provide Direction, Motivation and Guidance to the team.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter F. Drucker

Writing a conclusion for any article is challenging.  Let me try my best here.  “Managers are made and the leaders are born”.  In order to make a leader organizational culture & vision plays a vital role.  If a particular manager is not successful, it is not individual responsibility.  It is the collective failure of the organization.  Manager thrives if right environment exists in the organization and they will never remember that they have power to command the team.  They will get things done without even thinking about the power.  Right Culture, Training, and organizational support will create a successful manager if that individual has the right attitude.

Cartoon Source:

Leave a comment

Please rate*

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *