Editor’s note: Bill Warner is founder of Paladin and Associates, an executive advisory team that works with startup and mature companies to eliminate the roadblocks to success.
_______________________________________________________________________________________One of the very important roles in a company is that of the manager. Management includes group leaders, who sometimes play the role of both manager and individual contributor, to section manager, director, vice president, senior vice president, executive vice president and chief executive officer. Each of these positions has a different scope of responsibility, but they all have several things that they do in common.

First and foremost, they are all managers, even if some of them perform individual contributor work. We define a manager as having three fundamental roles.

First, a manager is a leader. As a leader, the manager establishes and directs the vision and mission of the team. In this capacity, the manager is the source of visionary strength of the department and keeps the staff on a consistent track to achieving the vision.

Second, a manager is a project manager. In this role, the manager is responsible for directing the operational activities of the team by scheduling the utilization of the department’s resources, including people and capital equipment. In this way, the manager gets things done through the efforts of the people on the team. The manager is responsible for establishing and executing the project plan that is necessary to achieve the team’s mission.

Third, a manager is a coach, and as such picks the people for the team and improves the performance of people through ongoing counseling. As a coach, the manager works with people to help them become greater contributors by helping them improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

In these roles, a manager performs several duties that are very important to the successful functioning of any team:

  • Strategy — The manager puts the strategy in place to achieve the department’s vision and mission. In this capacity, the manager works with team members to develop a strategy and plan. Then a process is put in place that will be used to execute the strategy. In most cases, this process is an element of the company’s overall development process for purposes of developing your products.

  • Organization — The manager gets the department organized to implement the process and guides all the project activities using the process. All the schedules are established, laying out the tasks that have to be performed to deliver the department’s product and assigning the necessary resources to the people on the team.

  • Priorities — The manager establishes priorities for projects and tasks and makes decisions required when they have to change.

  • People — Making sure that the right people are placed in the right job assignments, and that people get further training to do their jobs is a key duty of the manager.

  • Solutions — The manager facilitates problem solving, as needed, by directing the process of problem solving with team members, lending expertise to the process.

  • Delegate — A very important duty is to delegate responsibility and accountability. In doing this, the manager gives people a clear role and a set of responsibilities, empowers them to act, and holds them accountable for results. This is the art of management. In getting the best out of people, a manager gives people the responsibility they deserve, then coaches them in their work in order to make them the best they can be, and finally holds them accountable for producing the results that are expected.

  • Enable — A manager takes care of people’s needs. The manager is an enabler for and ensures that people get what they need in order to do their jobs. This includes equipment, training, assistance, coordination, and time.

  • Communicator — One of the most important duties is that of a communicator. The manager not only communicates important information needed for people to do their jobs, but also information that is necessary for people to understand the context of their jobs. People generally want to know what the company vision and strategy is. They want to know about markets, customers and competitors. They want to know about key company initiatives and how it affects them. The manager’s job is to make sure that people know what is going on and how they are affected.

  • Policy — The manager represents the company and its policies. To the people in the department, their manager is the company. Managers are familiar with company policy, communicate policy to employees, and represent the management of the company.

  • Relationships — Building relationships is a key aspect of the manager’s job. The manager’s job is to establish positive and effective working relationships both inside and outside the company. One of the value-added aspects of a manager’s role is that the manager knows people and can call upon their assistance to help the department get its job done.

  • Environment — The manager establishes and supports working relationship principles by creating an environment where people can count on each other. It is important to know what one can expect from another. The manager’s job is to coach people to help them understand how the team operates and to give them the understanding of each other’s role on the team.

  • Objectives — Establishing goals and objectives for people is a key part of being a coach. As part of the performance management process, the manager establishes performance goals and objectives for people. This is a very formal part of the manager’s job. Establishing the objectives for people and then letting them know how they are performing in meeting the objectives is management’s bread and butter. To get their best performance, people have to understand how they are performing and be given the coaching necessary to improve. Ultimately, the manager has to formally appraise the performance of their people. This formal review becomes the determining factor for compensation changes and promotions.

  • Recognition — People need to be recognized for a job well done. A manager makes sure that people are recognized for their contributions and extraordinary efforts on the job. The recognition should be timely. Recognition can take the form of anything from a sincere thank you to a substantial monetary award. The important thing is that people feel that they are appreciated for their extra effort.

  • Mentor — A manager is a mentor. In this capacity, the manager advises people on their career goals and helps them get the job assignments needed to move their careers forward. Although people are responsible for their own careers, the manager can be a valued advisor in career planning.

  • Manage Upward — Finally, a manager manages upward. That is, the manager keeps higher levels of management informed of their department’s progress that effect their commitments. In addition, the manager advises upper management on key issues and helps in the decision making process.
  • This is not an exhaustive list of management duties, but it represents some of the most important ones. These are the kinds of things that one should regularly expect from management as they play out their three roles of leader, project manager and coach.

    Paladin and Associates: www.paladinandassociates.com