Lately there's been a big push for non-traditional business set-ups. Just google any buzzword like ‘millennial culture’, ‘innovative disruption’, or my personal favorite, ‘corporate synergy’, and you’re bound to get a million articles on why you should turn against the typical enterprise set-up.
While most of these are passing crazes with little tangible value, one trend has proven it’s here to stay – less managers, more do-ers.
Managers are an interesting breed. They usually are brought in to provide leadership for their team, communicate with executives, and to be held accountable for the success or failure of whatever group they’re in charge of. They play an important role in a big company – until there are too many of them.
According to an , managers can account for about 33% of payroll, and far less of production. They add incredible overhead as a business grows, and contribute to a never-ending cycle of support staff and supervisory needs. There are a couple major issues this cycle causes.
The retail industry does a great job of demonstrating these issues. During my time in retail management, I was right in the middle of a chain of managers. I reported to a floor manager who reported to a store manager, and supervised a series of counter managers who managed their consultants. As you can imagine, there were a couple big problems with this set-up:
- It was wholly and totally inefficient. It was time consuming for employees to ask a question, then wait for it to pass through four levels of management before an executive decision was made. Additionally, we spent more hours writing/conducting/approving/getting approval for reviews than we did selling and servicing our customers.
- It reduces an employee’s ability or willingness to try something new. An empowered employee is a creative and hardworking employee, but one who knows their every move is being recorded is much more hesitant to be innovative. My counter managers were resistant to embarking on new campaigns, because they knew if it failed, I’d be obligated to report the failure without a chance to explain how or why we took that route.
Unfortunately, this is all too familiar of a story. But it seems like businesses are beginning to catch on, and are looking for ways to re-design how their managers interact with the company
Here are some ways you can make sure you’re an effective manager:
1. Communicate with Purpose
How many times have you sat in on a meeting, where you spent 58 minutes waiting to give your 2 minute update? Meetings should result in decisions and actionable items, so don’t call a meeting unless you’re confident that will be the end result. If you have/need updates, email is a great tool.
2. Make sure your specialty isn’t ‘management’
Some people are brought in as managers with no experience in an industry, but lots of experience in motivating, teamwork, and public speaking. While these are all wonderful skills to have, a valuable manager also has tangible skills and can lead their team by example (not with icebreakers).
What if your manager challenged you to develop a new marketing campaign, but knew nothing about marketing himself? A manager should provide guidance and collaborate with team, instead of being there to police the employees on getting things done.
3. Know what success is…and be an active part in getting there
For every campaign, sales target, or other endeavor your team begins, you should know what metrics to look for to determine if your team was successful or not. And they should know it too! If you’re looking for new customers and your team thinks you want dollars, they may not be prepared to accomplish what you (and your boss) are looking for. Once you know, and have articulated, what your objectives are, empower your team to get there in any way you can. Remove potential barriers to their success, lead by example, and provide guidance as needed.
If you’d like to do some reading on the subject, there’s a great book called that really explains the ‘talk less, do more’ mentality. This bestseller is approachable, straightforward, and chock-full of ideas to get you moving so you can become a better, more effective manager today.