Whilst the organisation and the role may change, and the work of different departments even inside the same organisation may be different (the Production Departments has a very different feel to that in Finance) the one common factor is that the role and responsibilities of the Manager are likely to be very similar. Every managerial job that you apply for has the same areas of responsibility; forget the tame Job Description and stimulating Person Specification, the job ALWAYS entails managing four areas of responsibility.
The most difficult aspect of any managerial job at any managerial level as this is the one aspect of the role that CANNOT be predicted or programmed and where there are rarely any fixed notions of style or rules of engagement. This can be exciting but is frequently the cause of major personal stress where the style of the manager is inappropriate to that of his/her staff and where the achievement of operational goals falls down. Operational rules and procedures can and do apply (standard Induction programmes, Company Policies on Sickness and absence, etc) but this is only a small fraction of the interpersonal skills and attributes needed by the modern manager. There is no alternative but to learn and adapt your style as the role develops and as your experience grows. Key areas emerge and really define themselves; critically important topics include motivation, delegation, interpersonal style (because we naturally like some people more than others) and leadership style. Staff expect to be managed; this can be either with a soft touch which staff will readily accept as long as their goals and what is expected of them is communicated effectively or through overt and visible use of sanctions and punishments (which rarely brings results). Ask yourself the difficult question “Honestly, knowing who I am and how I do things, would I like to be managed by me?”
All organisations perform something regardless of whether this is profit, service provision or not-for-profit. The exact definition of this will vary enormously; different departments have their own views of this, as does the staff within those departments. Managers manage the process of getting results; no organisation can afford to have a lax approach towards this and history is littered with examples of businesses that have had a terrific business idea which has been lost amidst the ineffective management of the very service they were trying to provide. Ask yourself on a regular basis; Is the system efficient? Is the system effective? Am I meeting my targets? Where are the problems? How do my customers feel about my service? If you are not facing the above questions better watch out for the approach of the Personnel Manager!!!!
Managers manage resources; a little like the male fixation with fast cars and the levels of performance they give. How big is my budget? How much can I spend? How big is my budget compared to the budget in xxxxx department? Will I be underspent at the end of the year and how is this perceived – will I have a smaller one next year? What happens if I overspend? Critically you need to manage all of the resources at your disposal; People are a resource as is Information and the key question needs to be “Are all available resources working well and where can I improve?” Have no fear – inappropriate use of resources, of all kinds, always leads to a quick exit ……… the professional Football Leagues management turnover is evidence of this.
Of course I am a brilliant communicator; my staff are involved and know more than enough to allow them to do their jobs well and I am famed as a brilliant man-manager with my door permanently open to allow in staff who can discuss any concerns that they have and I am a popular and well-respected …..
This is the one area that managers regularly get wrong and where considerable work is always required. We always think we are better at communication than we actually are.
Personal communication systems are a nightmare because few can divorce body language from verbal communication (the Baby-Faced Assassin) and staff will always look for the things that are not being said rather than what actually is being said. Managers frequently take the easy way out and just send a memo which is either excessively detailed so that staff will not read it or ignore it or a one line communication is issued that says nothing and invites no further comment of any description. Communication with “The Boss” mirrors this; information is provided for upstairs only when they ask for it in a system where a certain management style is prevalent; where the style is more open and consultative there are generally better lines of communication.
There again we could just put out data…