7/12/12

Do We Even Need Managers? Or Should We Make Them Disappear?


A lot of employees think of management positions like they are the ultimate goal in their professional life; like they offer maximum satisfaction and that they prove and reward outstanding performance. Lots of companies offer hundreds of related trainings and thousands of management books sell in book stores every day. 

Students and fresh graduates hope and dream to become managers while parents teach their kindergarten kids that being a manager is like being the king. The last one is a bit exaggerated, but you get the idea.

Reality check: do we really need all these managers? Wouldn’t the employees who actually do the real work be better on their own? Are all this time, money and effort to grow and use managers really necessary? So much money invested in trainings, so much time, so many preparations and in the end even more money to pay all these people…does the company get anything back?

All managers reading this post will reply for sure that “yes, they are really needed”. But my post is not for you, sorry guys, but for the people you manage. It’s one of my tricky HR FAQs – do we really need managers around? Most employees with non-management positions may reply “of course not, we can manage ourselves just fine”. So, how is it?

The answer is in the middle, both are right, we actually need managers “yes, sometimes” and here’s why:

-          We need people in a company who are required to continuously check, analyze and adjust the big picture; all of you specialists know your tasks very well, but are too busy to know everything in the company; someone has to know all the processes (not necessarily in detail) to be able to confirm the right direction of the company and to implement  any required changes;

-          You need someone more experienced to confirm that you are doing a good job, to guide you and to help you improve. Why you may ask? I can decide myself or I can ask a colleague. But…your assessment is subjective and your colleague may not be honest; a manager may not be fair, but if you need improvement he will make sure you actually do it; you may be postponing trainings or forgetting about them; a manager will make sure you do all that is needed on time;

-          You need someone to represent you in front of the company owners (if a company has 3000 employees, not all of them can go to owners directly – imagine the queue) and why not propose salary increases for you to reward your performance; have you thought that you may not have the suitable speech to convince and that your more experienced manager may know better how to present the situation to have costs approved? In the eyes of the owners, it’s all about the costs and the profit. You need strong arguments to have things your way. Do you have all of these arguments ready?

-          You need someone to do the dirty job, the things you don’t like. Have you thought how many tasks managers have that they don’t like but which someone needs to do. Just a few ideas: tons of reports, answering in front of the company board for things that weren't achieved in your team, carrying out disciplinary actions for your team mates that don’t do their job (and whose job you need to do sometimes and of course you don’t like it), doing your job while you are sick or on vacation, meeting sales people from various partners, wasting time in conferences and meetings, staying overtime to meet with partners from a different time zone, traveling all the time (it can get annoying after a while, don’t imagine business traveling is all that fun, leaving your home and family for weeks and so on);

-          We need managers to represent the company in front of partners and clients and to take responsibility for any failures concerning signing contracts and closing deals; if contracts are not signed and clients are gone, guess what happens to your job. Do you feel strong enough to do this task?

-          You need someone to mediate any conflicts between you and your team mates for the job to go on and work to be done;

-          You need someone to see your needs (material needs, development needs, motivation needs) and take care of you. Do you always feel strong enough to have your own back?

And the above are just a few. The list can go on. My point is that delegating tasks to non-managers is ideal. This makes them more responsible and engaged. However, managers are also needed as they bring experience, decision making skills and strength to the company. They connect employees and company owners and are mediators in various situations. Wondering about me? Just for your own curiosity, yes, I am a manager and yes, I feel and hope people need me :)

Take care,
Geo

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