Becoming a manager and moving into management brings a lot of change.
This article provides a basic checklist for managers to sense check their position so they’re aware of the most important fundamentals of management.
This article asks you an initial series of questions to better help you understand your role and self-check to ensure you’re delivering what you should.
- Know your place
- The law of the land
- Your management style
- The checklist
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Know your place
The business, a legal entity
No matter where a business starts some basic rules have to be established.
The company to become an entity on its own has to file paperwork and become legally recognised as an entity.
The people setting up the company are directors and become legally responsible for the business.
The business establishes in and operates within the laws of the land and must obey the myriads of laws. If the company messes up ultimately the directors are to blame.
In Ireland this is the Companies Registration Office https://search.cro.ie/company/CompanyDetails.aspx?id=400703&type=C
Where you fit in
So once established the company needs people to run it. This is where money comes in and creating something out of nothing.
Directors need to be masters of all trades. If they are not they need to hire in other people to help. When there are too many people for one person to look after, a manager role is created to look after smaller groups of people. If the business is successful the roots of the tree grow divide and extend leading to more and more managerial roles appearing.
The very end of the root is the employee, a manager keeps the roots together. Managers keep groups of managers together until the system scales up to the directors.
So before you take on a management role you need to know where in the system the management role fits and what you need to do for that role.
Question 1: What is the job description for this role?
Who you directly report to, either another manager or ultimately to a director, is something you need to know from the outset.
No matter how far down the root system the managers first job is, know the company structure and where you fit in it. An organogram can help.
Question 2: What is the organogram for the business?
What do I have to do?
At the start of any job there is a job description. This forms the contract of employment. We “the company” will pay you “the person” to do the following.
Job descriptions vary from very specific to wildly general but here are the general things to expect.
- You generally understand the type of work done by the people you’re managing
- You understand what your manager or director needs you to deliver
- Realising you’re managing a team and not working in the team is difficult
- Reporting and paperwork is now a lot more important than just focusing on the work
- There are new skills you’re going to have to learn and apply to your role.
When people work for a business they generally fall into one of two approaches, a workhorse or a creative.
A person who’s job is to watch a process line complete the same task day in day out in a factory is very different to an employee who is paid to draw illustrations for a news paper. The difference is choice.
The factory worker is very different to the artist, yet both can show signs of creativity and repetition in equal measure.
The job description for a manager is very different than that of an employee.
As a manager you have jobs to be done by your team and your team need to deliver the work for you.
Each person has a job description as well, so you need to know the job description of your team as well.
Question 3: What are the job descriptions for my team members?
At this stage you have some paperwork which gives you a much better idea of your place within the business.
The law of the land
The actual laws
Every country has laws and they apply to every business. If your business works internationally then you must also consider the laws of the land you work in as well.
Law is a big area and its very easy for people to miss bits. There are great websites to help out and well worth a review. In Ireland the biggest help in my opinion is:
Remember that as a manager the Human Resources (HR) department will be able to help you deliver against these laws.
Your business can also lean on companies like Penninsula who can provide expert HR consultancy on the area. https://www.peninsulagrouplimited.com/ie/
The directors of the company will set out some guiding principles on how the business is to operate so some key words come up frequently. Often people see these very high level of statements as too broad or a waste of time yet when a 50:50 call is to be made they should direct management thinking.
- Vision – Big picture of what you want to achieve.
- Mission – General statement of how you will achieve the vision.
A companion statement often created with the vision and mission is a statement of core values.
- Core Values – How you will behave during the process.
Once you have identified what your organization wants to achieve (vision) and generally how the vision will be achieved (mission), the next step is to develop a series of statements specifying how the mission will be utilized to achieve the vision:
- Strategies – Strategies are one or more ways to use the mission statement in order to achieve the vision statement. Although an organization will have just one vision statement and one mission statement, it may have several strategies.
- Goals – These are general statements of what needs to be accomplished to implement a strategy.
- Objectives – Objectives provide specific milestones with a specific timeline for achieving a goal.
- Action Plans – These are specific implementation plans of how you will achieve an objective.
A manager at any point needs to be able to explain from the top down these laws. It is frequently surprising to me how often managers do not know how to explain all of the above for their role within their company.
Question 4: What is the vision, mission, core values and strategy I need to deliver against?
Your Management Style
The right style for the right time.
Your team will greatly influence your management style. Some people do well when they are given free reign yet others will abuse opportunities. As a manager you must adapt to your team and make an objective call on what you’re going to use. Knowing the approach can help you make decisions. People are not computers and will react in very different ways to different approaches.
There are three major types of management style : Autocratic, Democratic, and Laissez-Faire.
There is a good write up available on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Management_style
Question 5: What management style best describes how I intend to operate?
Having chosen a management style it is important that your team understands as employees what their place in your team is. Sometimes referred to as group behaviour there is an imperative to ensure you as a manager understand which one you’re going for and to discuss it with your team.
Family: An autocratic approach for a business. There are pecking orders, hierarchies, and by its nature a dictatorship
Tribes: A democratic approach everyone has a job and is needed but the chief dictates whats going to happen
Organisation: The Laissez-Faire approach is distant and leaves people to manage themselves with a reduced sense of connection to a manager.
Question 6: Which group behaviour best describes your desired approach?
A quick sense check
Firstly you’re already a good manager if you’re looking to better yourself.
The area of psychology is enormous and very few people have formal training in it as a result most people will use approaches they have experienced.
You’re the manager the head of the group an automatic democratic / autocratic position as a result you need to know yourself first.
Having a manager or director to report to allows you the comfort of someone to ask consequently if there are no answers forthcoming you will need to create that path.
This is why I chose the motto, aut viam inveniam aut faciam which translates to if there isn’t a way, I’ll make one.
Before starting any job or if you feel lost in your job the six questions above will give you a very firm foothold to get started with. There are no right or wrong answers just answers and for this reason it can give you a sense of comfort.
Management can be very lonely as you bear the burden of responsibility above all remember you are not alone. The rewards when management goes right are some of the highest highs a person can experience.
Managers assume the challenge of leadership and as a result get paid more money. Yet a manager must understand their own motivations and psychology allowing them to revert back to the plan when things become “complicated” or “confused”.
Take the six items above write them down in one place and ensure they’re always available to hand.
There are professional training courses available which cover many of the topics introduced here even up to Masters level qualifications http://bit.ly/2v9ZepV
Business has been around long before psychological theories have been and you don’t have to study but it can help when things get difficult or complicated.
Experience is a massive contributor to learning and as a manager you pick up a lot from interacting with people, sometimes more so than from academic learning.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be adding to these sense checks as I use them on myself regularly and ensuring the learning objectives of formal management courses are covered.
You are not alone.