I was asked this week, ‘What does a manager really do?’ It was a fairly innocuous, rhetorical, jovial question from a well-paid, senior person.
The graduate switch flicked and I immediately thought, ‘seeing that the company’s goals are met’. After all, it’s the leader’s job to define and create those goals and aims, and it’s management’s job to realise them. Right?
But managing people is rarely a squeaky clean affair. I’m not a huge supporter of lofty job titles as they can often cause internal problems, but anyone claiming to be a ‘Manager’ will find themselves wearing several hats (in no particular order):
- go between
- consultant (to those above and below)
- amateur psychologist
- dispute resolver
- idea instigator
- role model
- decision maker (the buck stops and all that)
- communications expert (surely THE key to management)
- soldier (ever metaphorically fallen on your sword?)
- big brother/sister (you need to eat more, drink less, curb spending)
- policy pursuer
- change agent
- supporter (of others, of the different viewpoint – perhaps the weaker voice)
- challenger (of the status quo)
It strikes me that a manager who only wants to manage isn’t anywhere near up to the job. The seven-letter title is low-balling the variety of commitment needed in all but the safest of environments.