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The six responsibilities of every manager

Posted: July 16, 2008 1:46 a.m.
Updated: September 16, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Countless books and articles have been written about the tasks of those in management. The majority concern themselves with planning, organizing, controlling, coordinating and leading, which means everything in theory and nothing in practicality to the manager responsible for getting things done.

Who is a manager? Managers come with different titles, including president, vice president, CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO, CLO, general manager, director, supervisor and lead. The one thing all these titles have in common is that they are responsible for the proper supervision and management of the employees reporting to them on the organizational chart.

What should managers actually do everyday? To begin, they should be filling the role of management, which means manage, not to do the work of those they supervise.

If the goal of a manager is to accomplish things through the efforts of others, the manager needs to stop being the “best technician” and start being the “best manager.”

In the world of the auto mechanics that means stop using the wrench and start making sure that people that are supposed to be using the wrench are trained in the best use of it.

Second, managers undertake the responsibility of protecting the assets of the organization. That begins with the people who work there, protecting the employees physically, mentally and emotionally so that they can do the best possible work with the least amount of risk to themselves.

This means providing a workplace that is safe from those elements that have no place at work: harassment; bullying; violation of laws; unsafe conditions; gossip, rumor and innuendo; unfair labor practices and all those things that hinder an individual from doing their job.

If a manager at any level or title is not capable or interested in protecting human assets, they have no place holding a position in management.

Third, following the protection of people comes the protection of other tangible and intangible assets, including reputation, equipment, the physical plant, copyrights, patents, trademarks, client lists and other confidential information that would hurt or damage the organization.

The fourth responsibility of every manager is to serve as an example. That means setting an example to all those in the company, not just to those who report to them. This is because managers are always being watched by those around them — at every level.

While it may sound almost childlike to mention, the kinds of example setting that a manager must be willing to do includes: being on time; being organized; being focused; not gossiping; working hard; following through; providing consistent and accurate feedback; setting clear expectations; not playing favorites; not only following the organization’s policies and procedures, but explaining and defending them as necessary.

The fifth responsibility is communicating. Managers serve as a conduit from those in leadership positions to those that are not. That means information goes up and down the conduit. A responsible manager cannot be blocking or editing messages.

The sixth responsibility of a manager is to become a better manager. That means continuing to learn. Why is this important? If employees see that their manager is investing in his or her own learning, they will accept the idea that this is something they should be doing for themselves. Lifelong learning is something employees need to get comfortable with; no job is guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Why is this important? Why write this article? It has been statistically proven that the relationship between the employee and their immediate manager is linked to both profitability of the organization and to employee retention.

Most managers need help to become better at what they are supposed to be doing. Don’t let another day go by without thinking about how your managers can become better at what they are being paid to do. Then, take action to make it happen.

Kenneth W. Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums in Valencia, bringing business owners together in facilitated peer advisory boards. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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