I’ve been on a rant lately, about the trendy topic of managers being extraneous.
If I had to guess where this perennial nonsense came from, I’d have to say it comes from entrepreneurs who can’t really deal with the fact that their cultures have to change as their companies get bigger. They always want to be the visionary leader, followed by a pack of employees so inspired that they just do their jobs with passion and intensity. They want their companies to retain that cutting edge, breakout, startup feel and having a layer of management just seems so…..meh.
Here’s the deal: visionary leaders are great. They’re inspiring. The world definitely needs the visionary to peer into the future and read the tea leaves and set the strategy and launch the culture. Managers, though, are the ones who execute. They make sure everything’s on course with the employees and the vendors, with the various departments and budgets. They bring back news from the front about why the client’s campaign isn’t finished by deadline and why it will be next time. They deal with the employee who—several layers of contact away from the visionary leader—seems to somehow lack that missionary zeal that the people hired in the first wave had.
But, the argument goes, what about self management? After all, robots will be doing all the automatic jobs and it’s only the really smart, mature, creative people who should be hired to do the other jobs. Yeah…. So, I don’t know about you, but I’m a grownup. I own a home; I run a business; I help other people with their businesses; I eat healthy most of the time and I recycle. But there have still been years when I was sitting in a line of traffic at the post office at 10:38 p.m. on April 15th because I barely got my taxes done. None of us is 100% accountable to ourselves and all the things we need to get done every day which explains why we have business coaches, life coaches, physical trainers, nutritionists and regulatory agencies.
The problem, I think, is first that people don’t have respect for the role of management. They don’t respect and understand all that goes into effectively helping a group of employees interact successfully with each other and the organization and clients or customers to get things done. That’s a skill set all its own. Generally speaking, leaders aren’t great managers, and vice versa. Secondly, maybe the leader didn’t invest the time or resources to make sure the managers knew how to do their jobs well. I’ve written about the importance of setting managers up for success. Very few of us are born with the fabulous manager gene. A manager who hasn’t been trained to manage is, I grant you, extraneous.
Companies have tried to get rid of managers. Mostly they failed. But if you want help figuring out how to maximize the effectiveness of your management team, we’d be glad to help.
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.