Firstly a manager is responsible for making things happen. For the newly appointed manager this is the first big role change. Rather than having to actually sell products, produce engineering drawings or deliver the meals on wheels, the manager must make sure that other people do these things and do them well. For many first time managers this can be doubly confusing as their role is akin to that of a player/manager, that is they must both undertake some of the activities (often the more complex ones and manage others to do others.
The Manager has to play many roles in his organization which are discussed in detail in this article.
AS A COORDINATOR:
Managers must work to make the take effect of their team's work meaningful. They have to quickly get to know their team's activities, the strengths and weaknesses and ensure that the team is working together, not duplicating each others work. The activities have to be balanced and focused towards an ultimate goal. This is rarely as simple as merely handing out the tasks in a project plan. Team members will each have their own ways of working and some will be stronger than others. There will be tasks that take longer than expected, and there will be regular obstacles and unexpected priorities to deal with.
AS A FACILITATOR:
As well as coordinating the activities of the team a manager must act as a facilitator, bringing together the disparate skills of the team so that team members can share skills and learn from one another. The manager must also act as facilitator in driving the momentum of the team's energy, maintaining good morale and focusing the team on their goals. Managers must encourage others to contribute, and it can be difficult for newly appointed managers to do this without appearing to be too pushy, especially to those who up until recently were colleagues.
Encouraging contributions from others can be a useful skill to practice before officially becoming a manager - to tactfully bring out the positive contributions of one's fellow team members and to ensure that credit is given where it is due, is more difficult than it might seem, but will reap rich rewards in terms of its effect on staff morale and increasing the pool of shared knowledge.
AS A COACH:
Managers are responsible for drawing out the best in their team and ensuring that their staff's efforts become more and more effective. One of the ways that this can be done is through coaching. In this context, coaching means helping others to improve by removing the obstacles in their way. Such obstacles might be-
Lack of confidence;
Lack of clarity over personal and professional goals;
Confusion over which techniques and approaches to take to a situation
A manager's coaching role can blur into other areas of management responsibility, such as training and skills development or ensuring that the team has the right resources to do the job. It is important to remember that the coaching support that a manager can provide is just as important a teaching someone a new skill or fighting for one's share of the resources at budget allocation time.
AS A POLITICIAN:
The world of work is always a political world, and being a manager is a political job. Taking a more political role is often a hidden, unspoken part of management, but it is an important part of one's success as a manager. Managers must negotiate often difficult relationships with all sorts of stakeholders and it pays attention to growing these relationships in all directions. Being political can also mean improving one's personal and professional networks. The majority of new jobs and promotions are gained through contracts and already established relationship, so the successful manager will always pay attention to maintaining and increasing their network.
AS A COMMANDER:
The traditional role of a manager is that of commander or captain of the ship. In many ways this is the role model which most managers are exposed to at an early stage in their career. Command and control is an easy role to all into, both because we see examples all around us all the time, and perhaps because there is something tempting about the power of becoming a manager where people have to do as one say.
However easy it is fall into, the command and control model has serious drawbacks. It can mean that staffs are limited in the degree of initiative they take, and constantly refer back to the manager for instructions, making more work in the long run. In particular long serving or skilled staff may become demotivated if they do not have enough responsibility, or feel that they are not trusted.
SUPPORT FOR DEVELOPMENT:
The above different roles require managers to develop a wide range of skills, along with a reflective attitude and knowledge of their own management style. Managers who receive support in developing these attitudes and skills are often better performers. Managers who are supported in their development:
* have better working relationships with others;
* achieve a higher level of outcomes, making better use of resources;
* contribute more to the organization as a whole;
* stay with the organization for longer.
ROLE OF A MANAGER OF PEOPLE:
* A manager understands and conveys his people the meaning of a system. He explains the aims of the system. He teaches his people to understand how the work of the group supports these aims;
* He helps his people to see themselves as components of a system, to work in cooperation with preceding stages and with following stages forward optimization of the efforts of all stages toward achievement of the aim;
* A manager of people understands that people are different from each other. He tries to create for everybody interest and challenge, and joy in work. He tries to optimize the family background, education, skills, hopes and abilities of everyone. This is not ranking people. It is, instead, recognition of differences between people, and an attempt to put everybody in position for development;
* He is an unceasing learner. He encourages his people to study. He provides, when possible and feasible, seminars and courses for advancement of learning. He encourages continued education in college or university for people who are so inclined;
* He is coach and counsel, not a judge;
* He understands a stable system. He understands the interaction between people and the circumstances that they work in. He understands that the performance of anyone that can learn a skill will come to a stable state - upon which further lessons will not bring improvement of performance. A manager of people knows that in this stable state it is distracting to tell the worker about a mistake;
* He has three sources of power:
* Authority of office;
* Personality and persuasive power, tact.
A successful manager of people develops knowledge and personality and not relies on authority of office. He has nevertheless the obligation to use the authority as this source of power enables him to change the process, equipment, methods, and materials to bring improvement, such as to reduce variation in output.
He is an authority, but lacking knowledge or personality must depend on his formal power. He unconsciously fills a void in his qualifications by aiming it clear to everybody that he is in position of authority. His will be done.
* He will study results with the aim to improve his performance as a manager of people;
* He will try to discover who if anybody is outside the system, in need of special help. This can be accomplished with simple calculations, if there be individual figures on production or on failures. Special help may be only simple rearrangement of work. It might be more complicated. He in need of special help is not in the bottom5% of the distribution of others; he is clean outside that distribution;
* He creates trust. He creates an environment that encourages freedom and innovation;
* He does not expect perfection;
* He listens and learns without passing judgment, merely to listen. The purpose would be development of understanding of his people, their aims, hopes, and fears. The meeting will be spontaneous, not planned ahead;
* He understands the benefits of cooperation and the losses from competition between people and between groups.