Friday, February 19, 2010

Why be a manager?

Often as I observe managers in various coaching roles or in development workshops I ask myself why some people become involved in management? I read the research and I understand that money is way down the list of performance motivators yet there are times when I cannot help myself from forming a belief that many people become involved in management because (a) it pays more or (b) their ego doesn't allow them to turn down the offer.

How many really understand the role of a manager and what is expected of them? Back in the 1930's the granddaddy of modern management, Henri Fayol developed a set of management principles and activities which have guided managers for the past 80 years. At the same time I believe these same principles and actions, which truthful in what it is managers need to do along the way, have created a management 'thinking' that is flawed.

In 1982 Fernando Flores wrote in his Harvard thesis about conversations, commitments and trust. He was writing about the workplace of the future. The gap between how you think about Fayol and how you think about Flores is a chasm - one that many managers appear unable or unwilling to jump over!

In a recent workshop on decision making where we were exploring Roger Martins model of Integrative Thinking one participant observed, 'all this decision making seems very time consuming'. This person was being truthful, good decision making is time consuming. It involves two or more people in a conversation. To this persons credit she was also open to exploring the possible consequences of taking a short cut approach to decision making. The questions remained at the forefront of my mind. Why would someone who considers decision making conversations to be wasteful and time consuming want to be in a management role?

I believe the prime role of managers is to develop the potential of their team or workgroup and the individuals within that group. Nothing more, nothing less. What does this imply? Firstly the role of manager is to align workgroup activities and outcomes with organisational strategic outcomes. Secondly the role of the manager is to develop the capacity of the team to perform the tasks required to acheive the outcomes. Thirdly the role of the manager is to allocate or delegate tasks to ensure an equitable and effective distribution of work. Fourthly the role of the manager is to monitor implementation, coach people through being effective, review progress and provide feedback. Sure, inside these four groups of management tasks are preparing budgets, creating rosters and a heap of individual tasks.

Are you in a management role? How well can you assess yourself against the following:
1: How well is your workgroup aligned with organisation direction and outcomes?
2: How capable are your people in achieving those outcomes? Do they have the necessary experience, skills, resources and support?
3: How well is work delegated, by firstly yourself, then your supervisors?
4: How well do you monitor progress, follow up, offer support and resources, remove blockages, provide coaching and provide positive constructive feedback?

If you rate yourself as low on any of these four then I recommend you contact me and we can work together to help you develop those four areas of management. If you do not want to be proficient in any of those four areas of management then you need to review the reasons why you want to be a manager.

Are you in your role to develop people to achieve maximum performance and effectiveness or are you in there for the money and to satisfy your own ego? If you are there for the money or for ego then the only person you are serving is yourself. You are greedy and your greed will feed your incompetence. The best people will see through your greed and incompetence and will leave or refuse to work with you. This leaves you only those that don't care - and they will make you look worse still.

Let The Journey Continue
John Coxon

Taking You From Frontline Manager to CEO

Skype: john_coxon
Facebook: johncoxon1
Twitter: john_coxon


Tony Mayo said...

A useful conversation; thanks for posting it. I also admire Flores and offer coaching for executives here:

FWIW, Flores wrote his thesis at Berkley, not Harvard

JC said...

Hi Tony, thanks for stopping by. Appreciate your support and thank you for the correction on Flore thesis. I have been quoting Flores for a number of years in my work and cannot recall where I read he had completed his thesis. It's interesting how something can become ingrained and habitual until it is bought to our attention. The update is appreciated. Please keep in touch and feel free to share your ideas.
John Coxon

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