Management Success Series Tip #4: The Two Jobs of Management

Breaking News: Managers actually have two jobs!   Previously in the Management Success Series, we talked about influence and visibility as key managerial traits.  In Tip #3, we discussed common sense and the need to adapt amid a constant state of change.  There’s an added layer of complexity that good business leaders and managers need to understand.

Early in my career, I had a boss who frequently used the phrase:  “Workers do the work; managers make sure the job gets done.”  This statement is true to some degree.  As stated in Tip #3, at the basic day-to-day level, managers are supposed to prioritize tasks to ensure various assignments are completed on time.  To do so, managers evaluate due dates, criticality and workloads.  You also resolve employee conflicts, meet budgets and redeploy your team in times of crisis.   Like conductors of an orchestra, you coordinate the speed and intensity of your team, making sure everyone is in tune and on the same beat.  That’s what managers do, right?  Get the job done?

Many managers fulfill this visible day job well, keeping their organization’s affairs in line.  Unfortunately, many leaders do not realize they also have a “night” job that people don’t see:  managing the careers of others.  As a manager, you are in charge of your employees’ growth as well as ensuring the job gets done.  It is easy to get sucked into the latest crisis, and there is a time when you need to.  But having the discipline to carve out time away from the latest fire fight to exclusively invest time into developing people pays you back in dividends.

Get to know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and provide challenging assignments to each of them that will help them learn.  Although you may have your top performers who can handle anything you throw at them, it doesn’t mean you should.  Rather, consider giving more difficult assignments to your less experienced employees or to those who could stand to benefit a given task.  Be open with them.  Talk to them about why you are giving them a certain assignment and what you want them to take away from it.

This approach helps instill trust in your employees who will appreciate that you are giving them new opportunities.  In addition, routinely challenging your employees keeps them engaged and interested.  In short, crafting solid development roadmaps for your people increases the overall capability of your team.  As the skills of your entire team improve, you will be able to accomplish more.

So it comes down to this:  “making sure the job gets done” as my old boss would say isn’t enough.  As a manager or business leader, you are not only responsible for getting the job done but also for taking time away from those efforts to improve your organization’s abilities.  In this world where budgets are getting tighter and tighter, you need to maximize the resources you do have.  If you don’t invest your time into your people, you’ll struggle to do your day job.

For further reading on managing the unique skills and strengths of individuals, see ‘A Baseball Approach to Management.’

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