A few synonyms listed in a thesaurus for manager are controller, overseer and administrator. These words create a picture of a manager as someone who stands over employees and gives orders that they have received. But management positions involve more strategic planning, communicating and people skills than most people realize. People that fall into the trap of believing that executives are the visionaries, managers are the enforcers and employees are the doers set themselves up for failure.
Today, every member in an organization can be called upon for any of these roles. Management roles are most often the roles that are stereotyped incorrectly. Here are a few common misconceptions about the managerial job function and the realities associated with them:
Misconception: Managers need to focus on getting things done the quickest and cheapest way possible.
Truth: Effective managers focus on setting checkpoints and milestones. The management role is all about moving ideas from conception to reality. This process begins with a plan. Without a plan to move forward, ideas will never turn into concrete products or services that create a return on investment for an organization. A manager’s checkpoints are the link between the executive’s strategic planning and the employees that execute these plans. Effective managers must be able to see a plan, break it into parts and set realistic milestones. If a manager dives into a project without setting milestones, he or she may rush through it, creating poor customer service experiences or products.
Misconception: It is an executive job function to track progress.
Truth: Effective managers track progress because they have direct contact. Managers must have a system in place for tracking the goal progress because they are closer to the day-to-day operations than executives. Tracking allows managers to identify problems before completion dates. It allows managers to step in and make corrections if employees are not completing work correctly. Tracking also gives managers an opportunity to identify if something is not working. Effective managers can save their organizations time and money by identifying and stopping inefficient processes. When executives track progress, they may not receive progress reports immediately because they are often not located close to warehouses and retail locations. Managers have quicker access, giving them the ability to make quicker decisions.
Misconception: A manager’s job is to manage processes first and people second.
Truth: Effective managers take time to understand their people first. Managers must engage their employees so that their employees are excited to do their jobs. Employees who feel that their managers understand them perform better than those who do not. Managers who understand their employees know their strengths and weaknesses well. They can increase efficiency by assigning tasks based on these strengths and weaknesses. Managers who know their employees well also can identify training and development needs quickly.
Misconception: Managers receive communication from their bosses and pass it on to frontline employees.
Truth: Effective managers facilitate the free flow of communication in all directions. Managers are the link between executives and frontline employees. If managers do not communicate effectively and consistently, they withhold knowledge that executives need to make decisions. They are also withholding information that can help frontline employees perform better. Managers must constantly facilitate the free flow of information. They are responsible for reporting the status of projects to executives. They should make sure employees understand feedback from other managers and executives. A manager’s goal is to keep everyone in the loop.
Effective management is more than just making sure products are created and sold. It involves being concerned with frontline employees’ development and facilitating the flow of important information throughout an organization. Organizations must get rid of old-school ideas and misconceptions about management and hire managers who connect and communicate.
What do you think characterizes an effective manager?