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Why Don't Managers Manage? - Looking After Their People is Part of the Job

Aug 17, 2007
Implicit in most jobs with the title manager and people reporting to them is the responsibility of managing their people.

However, for many, this is often seen as an extra chore that gets in the way of doing their functional job such as selling, accounting, marketing or manufacturing.

"The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say "I". And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say "I". They don't think "I". They think "we"; they think "team".

They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but "we" gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done." Management guru, writer and educator, Peter Drucker.

We tend to promote those people who are good at their jobs to "manager". It is normally the functional aspects of their jobs they are good at and, after promotion, they have to start to learn how to manage.

While businesses usually have systems in place to assist in the functional performance, help on managing the people is often not available.

An excellent model for getting this in perspective is John Adair's Three Circles model.

This model proposes that the manager has three key areas of responsibility and they are all equally important.

1. Achieve the task
2. Manage the team or group
3. Manage the individuals

Doing all these well is challenging. But that is how it should be. This is how one business can excel over another. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

There area few key issues to addressed for each of the key responsibilities and we list these below so you can check that you have them covered.

Achieve the task
Has the task been defined in terms of objectives for the business and the team?
Does the team know how their contributions link to the needs of the business?
Does the team have the resources necessary people, money, equipment, systems?
How clear are the timelines and plans?

Manage the team or the group
Have plans been agreed so the team knows what has to be done?
Are there measures in place for the team's contribution?
Are the team members clear on their roles within the team? Do they know what this means?
Is there the right mix of abilities and competencies in the team?
Have they received training in working together?
Does the team get feedback?

Manage the individuals
Has each individual's required contribution to the task, both technical/specialist and team role, been defined along with a measure?
Does the individual have the skills to do the job?
Does the individual require training?
Does the individual receive feedback?
Are there adequate rewards for achieving the task financial and non financial?
Are the individuals' needs being met in terms of their own aspirations and career goals?

If a manager is addressing all these issues and being open with team members and seeking their input, there is a good chance that the performance of the team will be way ahead of those where only the functional responsibilities are being addressed.

What is more, the sustainability of all these areas is increased. Relying on doing just one factor well is high risk.

Not only will performance be increased but recruitment to the team will be easier and staff retention greater. A major contribution to the bottom line on all counts.
About the Author
Paul Phillips is a Director of Horizon Management Group; a specialist human resource management consulting firm. He has over 30 years experience in HR and, while based in Australia, has worked in a number of overseas locations. www.horizonmg.com
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