Once upon a time in a far away land, managers were managers. They shouted at you, shuffled papers and banged their fists on the desk. Life was simple. A leader spent most of their life behind a podium creating history, and a coach wore a track suit and blew a whistle. But not any more, the new manager is a multi headed hybrid capable of all sorts of magic.
Are you a multi-headed manager? If not, you should be. You better make some changes mighty fast before you find yourself catalogued in a museum display, dusty and covered in cobwebs, with children pointing and laughing at you.
Do you know your roles as a manager and when they are relevant?
We all know that leading and managing is not the same gig (and if you didn’t, you do now, ok?). The fact is, though, sometimes as a manager you will need to lead and sometimes as a leader you’ll need to manage. Fair enough – We can expand our work repertoire.
But what if I told you there are at least four other common roles that a manager may have to slip seamlessly into which are not exactly management. You need to know when they’re applicable and how to apply them. Did you know that coaching style management is the new must be, and is an essential in driving employee engagement in this brave new enlightened world.
Management is an intriguing vocation. In the vast majority of business disciplines you’re required to have an educational qualification denoted by a string of letters on your business card before you have credibility, let alone before you’re let loose in the workplace. Imagine an accountant with no qualifications (maybe you can), or a lawyer, a scientist, an HR manager and so on. But when it comes to managing people, you can get started Monday morning, 8:30am sharp with no qualifications and no related formal education. I did – 25 years ago – and whatever you might think about that, managing people is no easy role.
Tune the engine for a sweet song
Lets talk about some of the different roles you need to be aware of, understand, and be conscious of when you’re out there amongst your team managing away to your heart’s content. From day to day they (your team) will be displaying different behaviours, have a different set of needs, be struggling or excelling, be engaged or disengaged – all depending on a lot of different stimuli to which they’ve been exposed. You need to know where to be in relation to what’s going on, how they are feeling and performing and what you’re trying to achieve. You need to be aware of yourself and your team, so become alert. Managing is the task of tweaking an engine for optimum performance.
Managers versus leaders
So I said that a manager and a leader are not the same thing. The HBR article “Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders” provides a great definition of the difference between managers and leaders, and here’s an excerpt. Check out the full article for more detail.
“Leading people vs Managing work. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.”
Now, I know that makes a leadership role sound much more sophisticated and exciting, but not so. Both are absolutely necessary and when done well, both are as complex and challenging. Good leaders don’t always make good managers.
So as a simple summary, a manager controls, a leader influences.
So what or who else do I have to be – I thought I was simply a manager when I took this job?
Well, put on your track suit and get out your whistle, sometimes you’re going to need to be a coach.
A Coach is responsible for enabling another person to uncover their inner ability and capacity, and to help them engage that ability in the pursuit of their goals. A coach is like a miner looking for gold. They are not the gold themselves and they don’t supply it. The gold is within the coaching counterpart and the coach uses careful questions and listening as their tools to mine for the gold. The Eureka moment belongs to the coaching counterpart.
A great example of when you’ll need to be a coach is when someone is working on their professional development, or when they are struggling with a challenge and you don’t have the technical capability or experience to advise or mentor them. Ah, now there’s another one, Mentoring.
So now I have to be a mentor, I’m getting dizzy
I thought I could just rock up and tell everyone what to do then sit in my office and look scary.
A Mentor role is similar to coaching and so is often confused with it. The big difference is that a mentor role includes a significant imparting of knowledge in order to assist someone less experienced in their field of expertise to reach their goals and aspirations more quickly.
A mentor conversation will include a discussion around a problem or an opportunity, and then suggestions by the mentor on how the mentee may fast track their journey through a path with fewer obstacles. Having said this, a great mentor won’t hand over the gold nuggets on a platter and will help the mentee to find ways to solve their challenges and meet their opportunities. There will always be personal growth in a mentee/mentor relationship, otherwise mentoring becomes a little like a training session.
Uh oh, here we go, not a trainer as well
A Trainer role is one where you simply need to impart new knowledge that will underpin the development of a new job skill or will prepare an employee for a new job with new skills. And truth be said, it’s far from simple and that’s why in most companies, training will be conducted by the internal training professionals or in their absence and for very specialised subjects, the training will be outsourced.
Finally, there are times when a manager needs to provide counselling, but be cautious. You should know your personal and appropriate limitations.
Now I’m going to need counselling
A counsellor, yes, you may be required to even be a counsellor. Yes, you’re a manager, a sometimes leader, coach, mentor and trainer, but counselling is another set of skills and is not to be taken lightly. You need to know when an employee needs none of the above and actually may need a counsellor. Relevant issues may be personal and/or work related. These issues may be impacting the employee’s psychological health, their general well-being, perhaps their performance or even their safety. They will often impact not only the employee’s morale but that of their team mates. It is essential you recognise when the most appropriate course of action is support from a suitably qualified professional. Many organizations now have Employee Assistance Programs to provide this support to their employees free of charge and anonymously.
I’m not a monster, I’m a multi headed manager, and I am happy with that
OK, so the Multi headed Management Monster is definitely in order for a person aspiring to best practice management. It’s really important you know these roles exist and how skilled you are and should be in each, and where and when to seek support for each. This article only scrapes the surface of what you need to know as a manager, but it should make you aware that you play many roles in your day to day management activity. There are times when it’s not appropriate just to manage and you should know this and adjust your approach accordingly. You should have a sense of what role is appropriate and understand your limitations and manage your behaviour accordingly. Good Luck.
I would be really pleased to see your thoughts in the comments section below.