The Expectant Duties of a Manager

All managers at all levels of every organization perform some basic functions. However, the amount of time a manager spends on each one depends on both the level of management and the specific organization. Some of these functions include planning, organizing, directing and much more.

1. Planning: Planning of the enterprise is carried out by the manager to determine the market niche to find out if the product will sell, as well as the location of the workshop, labour, types of product(s), capital required, etc. This management function also involves mapping out exactly how to achieve a particular goal set by the enterprise. For example, if the enterprise’s goal is to improve the company sales, the manager first needs to decide on what steps are necessary to accomplish that goal. These steps may include increasing advertising, inventory, and sales staff. These necessary steps are developed into a plan. When the plan is in place, the manager can follow it to accomplish the goal of improving the sales of the enterprise.

2. Organizing: After a plan is in place, a manager needs to organize his or her team and materials according to the plan. Assigning work and granting authority are two important elements of organizing. He also sets up the business structure and the authority structure i.e. who reports to whom, etc.

3. Directing: Directing means the leadership style adopted to get work done. It implies establishing policies, coordinating the work of staff, coaching staff, motivating staff, and assigning work to different staff as needed, etc.

4. Staffing: After a manager discerns his area’s needs, he may decide to beef up his staffing by recruiting, selecting, training, and developing employees. A manager in a large organization often works with the company’s human resources department to accomplish this goal.

5. Leading: A manager needs to do more than just plan, organize, and staff her team to achieve a goal. He must also lead. Leading involves motivating, communicating, guiding, and encouraging. It requires the manager to coach, assist, and solve problems with employees.

6. Controlling: Controlling means measuring performance against the standards of the enterprise. It involves setting standards, setting production targets, checking production on daily, weekly, and monthly basis to ensure that the business is reaching its targets; monitoring expenses for production, transport and communication, checking expenses against revenue generated to ensure that the enterprise is healthy, giving feedback to staff to improve work quality and work standards. He also takes any corrective actions necessary to make sure that his area’s plans remain on track.

What Every Manager Should Know Before Becoming a Manager

Whether you’re the CEO or a supervisor, you will learn many lessons throughout your career. One resounding lesson learned by some managers is when to let go. Let go of what? You may ask. In previous articles, I talked about three levels of performers in a corporation – high performers, average performers and under performers. Then there is another group that can be one person or more, the apathetic. This person or group can alter the course of the entire company, especially if he or she is in a key position. Many managers are afraid to let go of apathetic employees.

The apathetic person may come to work everyday. They even complete tasks throughout the day, week, month and year. However, they typically don’t care. In fact, they sometimes tell you they will complete a task with the intention of never doing it. In other cases, they will tell you they are not going to do aspects of their job. At the same time, they may take on responsibilities that make them appear indispensable, which puts management in a tough position.

By making themselves appear indispensable, they are in a position to play politics. They cleverly move their way up the corporate ladder. They smile and present themselves as the nice guy who goes the extra mile for the company. Except, the entire organization can suffer because of this one person. If there are several apathetic people, the impact is greater.

While this apathetic politician, maneuvers his way through the enterprise, others in the company notice the benefits of being apathetic. They begin to see the company has unspoken policies: if you appear indispensable, you can get out of doing your job. As a result, they emulate that behavior.

In time, the corporate culture of the entire organization begins to emulate the apathetic person. In desperation, management hires new enthusiastic people with the hope they will infuse the culture with their upbeat mentality. Over time, the new people observe the unspoken policies and are consumed by the existing culture of apathy.

Even though many people emulate the apathetic person, they know he should be fired. The manager, on the other hand, believes he can’t do without that person, especially if it’s a long time employee or executive. And the culture of the enterprise spirals down further into apathy.

There are companies that no longer exist because of this apathy trap. Employees become increasingly resigned. Customer service, product development and innovation suffer. Therefore, the sales force no longer believes the company can deliver. Sales drop. And the best employees left a long time ago.

If the manager fires the apathetic person when this first starts, the company can avert this destructive path. To management’s surprise, employees will be relieved and wonder what took the manager so long.

While it appears to be a tough decision for any manager to fire an apathetic, it is in the best interest of the entire company to spot apathetic people and take corrective measures. If that doesn’t work, let them go.

Five Steps for Making Better Decisions

What you decide to work on, what you decide to improve, which projects you decide to undertake – these decisions make all of the difference in your organization’s success.

Traditionally, people have often thought that if they had more data they could make better decisions.

But we’re all familiar, no doubt, with the taunting acronym, “TMI” (Too Much Information!) that is commonly directed at those who “over-share” personal details. Similarly, in today’s business world, the flood of data can make many decisions more complex… and the decisions made by considering all of this data are not always better!

In fact, the decision-making process is rarely studied and improved, and in a study of 500 managers and executives it was reported that “only 2% regularly apply best practices when making decisions, and few companies have systems in place to measure and improve decision-making over time.”

If this sounds familiar, you might consider these five critical steps to improving your organization’s decision-making process for complex decisions:

Start with a clear goal or objective – a good understanding of the problem and objectives. This step will help an organization refrain from starting with a compelling idea and backing into the rationale.

Widen the alternatives you are considering – As the French philosopher, Emile Cartier, put it, “There is nothing more dangerous than an idea, when it is the only one you have.” A single idea is dangerous because when we focus on our current option, other and quite possibly better alternatives are outside our spotlight. Yet our natural inclination once we arrive at an idea is to stop looking for alternatives and devote our effort to convincing ourselves and others that this is the right decision.

Know what you know and what you don’t know – Behavior economists assert that human beings are wired to give much more weight to information we have than to information we do not have and by doing so, we mis-calculate our risks and opportunities.

Achieve distance & perspective before deciding – A third condition for good decision-making is emotional distance. If you were the outsider, with no emotional stake in past decisions, what advice would you give yourself? Bringing in other perspectives, suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders can also help provide different perspectives on the decision to be made. Another way to gain distance is to imagine the impact of the decision one year in the future or even five or ten years.

Take a hard look at the uncertainty – One way to combat uncertainty is to figure out what you do know and use that to “bookend” the decision: what would be the outcome if all the bets go against you, and what would it look like if everything fell into place. This can help you evaluate if there is more upside opportunity or downside risk. You might also test and learn from small experiments before going whole hog. Find ways to test the waters or test some key assumptions to reduce the range of uncertainty to arrive at better decisions. The greater the uncertainty and risk associated with a decision, the more valuable these small experiments will be.

Learn & Improve

If you follow the steps above, your decision-making will likely improve. However, to accelerate organizational learning, write down the decision made and why. Schedule a follow-up at an appropriate time in the future to evaluate and take corrective action if necessary. In this way, you’ll learn from the decision process and make your next decision will be even better.