19th May 2016

The Role of the Manager

This week I heard an assertion that the term manager no longer has a place in the lexicon of business and that as such the term was finally dead.

Over recent years the role of the manager has changed and changed significantly. As the people who are managed have changed so the style of management has had to change and adapt from the old ‘command and control’ model that prevailed for much of the last century to a newer, fresher ‘manager as coach’ that we are seeing more often today.

Working practices have also changed with people working across time zones and across multiple locations.

The assertion was made that we don’t need managers we need leaders. The art and science that we call management is relatively young, probably not even yet 100 years and when we think of the changes that we have seen in the last 100 years it is hardly surprising that management styles and practices have had to also change.

However like so many things while the best practice, the methodology may be changing the overall purpose remains the same.

The main task of the manager/ leader in business is to get people working together efficiently, because businesses are all about people working together efficiently to provide something of value to the customer.

The better we can do that, the more efficiently people can work together, the higher the output, the lower the unit cost. So whatever we call the person and the mechanisms by which we help people to work together efficiently, the more productive that process is the better the business will be.

I always teach people to ask ‘what is the process?’. As much as anything management is a set of processes enhanced by great people skills.

I wonder how efficient our processes are and how agile they allow us to be as a business unit.