- delegate everything so that they can spend their time browsing the internet – oh well, this may be ideal but one that would not last at work for a very long time, that I can guarantee you,
- ask to have their coffee ready by the time they arrive in the office. You are lucky they do because a manager without a coffee is like a steam train without breaks (lol),
- simply make it difficult for people to get their work done,
Whereas some of the captured above preconceived ideas about managers may be true, there is no doubt that their work is crucial to the organisational success. In a nutshell, managers keep their eyes firmly on the ground to make sure things get done. They play different roles and apply various behaviours which I will look into more closely in the next couple of post but today I wanted to focus on the four main functions of management.
PLANNING – is deciding what you want to achieve (= organisational purpose) and how you are going to get there. Planning is a key management function because if you do not plan there will be nothing to organise, monitor and control. The first part WHAT covers developing vision, determining aims & objectives and analysing options & choosing the best one. The second part HOW includes organising work and resources and developing ways of monitoring and control (the next three functions).
Vision – is defining what you are trying to achieve as a manager or organisation. Maybe, it is to enhance customer experience? Or, to increase the number of assets under management of your department. To have a vision you need to know how you want something to look like in the future. Maybe you have just taken over management of the department; work is chaotic resulting in a high numbers of complains. Your vision would be a team of dedicated experts working together to achieve high customer satisfaction. As Roosevelt said: “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground”. Stars are the vision whereas ground represents aims & objectives, which path the way to achieve your vision.
Aims & objectives – I consider them the same thing but some say that aims are more general whereas objectives are more specific. Aim => to improve compliance processes. Objectives => research and choose potential IT solution which implemented would help employees to keep track of legal requirements. Plus, if your objectives are not clear you have no definition of winning.
Best options – would it be better to outsource the compliance process? what are the risks? when should it be done? Choosing the most optimum solution requires thoughtful consideration.
ORGANISING – is deciding which resources are needed to implement your plans and then implementing them in an efficient and effective way. In other words it is organising work & resources. The main resources are: People, Time, Material & Finance. The bigger the organisation the more resources there will be allocated to deal with the selection and recruitment process, the entire finance departments and procurement staff. That said, a 360 degrees awareness and knowledge will only make you a better manager.
MONITORING – “keeping a close eye”, this may be as simple as monitoring the subordinates’ e-mail communication, or, for monthly targets, checking progress every week rather than leaving it unattended until the end of the month. One cannot forget that ultimately the work of the department and the success of the (small) organisation is the manager’s responsibility. From experience I know that monitoring may be the first to be sacrificed when the fire-fighting starts to consume vital energy and time. However, it is important to be mindful that monitoring plays a crucial role in the manager’s success. At this point, I also wanted to add that although monitoring is used primarily to stop any deviation which may occur on the way to achieve organisational goals and objectives I recommend it is also used to catch employees doing something right. Once you spot it acknowledge it. People will be grateful and this way you also increase the level of engagement.
CONTROLLING – by definition controlling function is more invasive than monitoring because it includes correcting any deviations from the plan. It’s the ship’s radar system which indicates whether the direction is right and whether we are where we suppose to be. Monitoring & controlling system can be qualitative and quantitative. Which parameters are monitored would depend on the type of work and the industry you work in. It may be absence levels together with accident level or sales figures. But it can also be staff turnover or number of stakeholders complaints. What you measure depend on what is most important for you as a manager and what is of course in line with the organisational purpose.
I appreciate that in this day and age management work is far from consisting only of planning, organising, monitoring and controlling. It is also far from being perfectly structured and it proves to be more chaotic and fragmented. That is why, taking into account all the madness which management entails, I wanted to remind you of the core function of the manager’s role within any organisation. Save the above graphic and between browsing photos on your iPhone you can quickly remind yourself what managers do.
You do not necessary need to hold a managerial position to be a manager. Work-at-home mothers are a great example of managers. Plus, if you do not manage a team, remember that you can also apply the same four functions to managing yourself – whether you are studying, working, or trying to loose some weight. The above functions are universal and can serve as a great tool in ‘reaching the stars’.
Now, I would love to hear about your managerial experience. What proves to be most difficult in the art of management?