Managers are one of the backbones of a company. They facilitate efficient operations in their company area to achieve company goals and objectives, which vary from day-to-day operations to long-term goals and milestones. According to Julie Zhuo, author of The Making of a Manager, a manager’s job is “to get better outcomes from a group of people working together.”
What is a manager?
Oxford Dictionary defines a manager as “a person who is in charge of running a business, a shop or a similar organization or part of one.” However, if you’ve ever had or been a manager, you know that this definition is a very broad and technical meaning of what a manager does.
A manager is responsible for:
- Leading/managing a team
- Assigning work that will achieve company goals and objectives
- Controlling a budget
- Hiring and staffing
- Coaching team members
- Providing performance reviews
- Providing feedback to employees
- Supporting team members’ well-being
- Asking for feedback from employees
Empower your team
Encourage your team to contribute to conversations, offer feedback, and track their action items with a meeting software like Fellow.
12 reasons why managers are essential in an organization
Without managers, the above responsibilities would fall onto CEOs. A Harvard Business Review study found that “CEOs worked an average of 62.5 hours/week.” This results in no time leftover for managerial tasks such as those listed above. Managers are essential to an organization as they are the middle people between the CEOs and employees that create a team to help carry through crucial goals.
Here are 12 more reasons why managers are important to an organization:
- Play a role in decision-making
- Facilitate work
- Set goals
- Hire and train new employees
- Coach and develop teammates
- Responsible for team performance
- Help prioritize tasks
- Are motivating through mentorship
- Are key communicators
- Act as unblockers
- Set the workplace tone
- Think about the big picture
1 Play a role in decision-making
Decision-making can be difficult, especially when there are conflicting opinions. So, having one person to make the overall decision will help decision-making processes go more smoothly. For example, if your team is split 50/50 on a decision, the manager would choose which decision best helps the team reach their goals.
Managers also have a key role in translating upper management’s goals to their team. So, when decision-making, managers consider both employee and upper-management perspectives to ensure the best decisions are made.
2 Facilitate work
One key skill that managers need to have is the ability to delegate. As a manager, you will have a lot of tasks, so delegating some of these tasks to your team will help lighten your load and assign your team productive work.
Another tip to facilitate work is to choose the right person for each task. Every team member has their own unique set of skills, so use these skills to your advantage to assign tasks based on who will produce the most effective outcomes.
Marcus Buckingham, Harvard Business Review contributor, describes good managers as checkers players and great managers as chess players. This analogy demonstrates how all the pieces hold the same values and strengths in checkers. And while it takes strategy to win a checkers game, the pieces are seen as interchangeable. However, in chess, each piece holds its own values and strengths. In this game, the strategy is to move the pieces based on their strengths, not interchangeably. Thus, as Buckingham said,
“Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack.”
3 Set goals
Managers are essential to communicate upper management’s goals to employees. They translate CEOs’ expectations and goals into feasible work that their employees can accomplish while also keeping in mind employees’ goals.
For instance, if the CEO’s goal is for the marketing team to boost organic traffic, the manager would work with their team to create sub-goals – such as creating more social copy — to achieve the larger goal of more organic traffic.
4 Hire and train new employees
According to Zhuo, “because prospective candidates are generally interested in talking with senior leaders, you [managers] have an advantage when it comes to finding and closing talent.” A good manager knows what skills are needed to produce the most effective outcomes. Therefore, it’s the manager’s responsibility to hire the right candidates for their team.
Further, not only should managers hire their employees, but they should also train them. When employees aren’t trained correctly, there’s a higher chance of mistakes, unproductive work, and overall failure to complete goals. This is also a very frustrating experience for the employee, because they want to succeed but aren’t provided with the necessary training. Therefore, managers should take it upon themselves to train their employees to ensure efficient performance.
5 Coach and develop teammates
According to Manuela Bárcenas, Head of Marketing at Fellow.app, “as a manager, you are more likely to have a productive and high performing team if you’re helping those individuals develop professionally and grow as professionals.” Bárcenas says that managers’ roles aren’t just to assign work to their team, but also to understand their team members’ short- and long-term goals. This is important so that managers can provide the necessary resources and coaching to help their team members achieve these professional goals.
6 Responsible for team performance
Managers are also essential for an organization because they create a high-performing team. One way that managers create high-performing teams is through regular one-on-ones. During 1-on-1s, managers provide constructive feedback to their employees to help them grow. These meetings are also an excellent way for managers to help their employees brainstorm any problems that affect their performance.
“I’ve learned that as a manager, one of your key responsibilities or an area you can have an impact is having 1-on-1s with your team and helping them make decisions during those meetings.” – Bárcenas.
7 Help prioritize tasks
Another important thing that managers help with is prioritizing tasks. Without prioritization, employees can become disorganized and complete less important tasks first. Thus, managers are essential as they assign their employees work based on how time-sensitive or crucial the task is.
8 Are motivating through mentorship
According to Marianna Tu and Michael Li, Harvard Business Review contributors, “mentorship and sponsorship are critical to employee retention and satisfaction.” Their article, “What Great Mentorship Looks Like in a Hybrid Workplace,” mentions the two components for effective mentoring: building rapport and creating clarity of purpose.
In terms of building rapport, Tu and Li define it as building “mutual trust and respect, a shared understanding of one another’s values and perspectives, and strong communication.” Tu and Li say that this connection is critical to retaining employees. Switching gears to clarity of purpose, Tu and Li say that “infusing a clear sense of purpose in the mentor/mentee relationship creates excitement and momentum to solidify the relationship. Without it, mentorships can become nice friendships, but will not help employees reach their goals.”
9 Are key communicators
Zhuo also talks about the importance of managers identifying and communicating what matters, saying “your role has broader scope, which means that you’re able to see across a wider variety of work and spot patterns that your reports might miss.”
Additionally, as the middle person, managers must maintain communication between upper management and employees. For example, if upper management implements new policies or objectives, it’s the manager’s job to communicate these things to their team.
10 Act as unblockers
Blockers are the things that hinder us from completing our work. Managers are vital to an organization because they have the necessary skills to act as unblockers and solve problems for their team so they can continue their work. One way that we at Fellow deal with blockers is by adding them to our meeting agenda. When one of our team members adds a blocker, we brainstorm ways to help this employee solve their problem as a group, with the manager’s lead.
11 Set the workplace tone
Setting a positive tone in your workplace is essential to foster a psychologically safe environment and culture. Good managers know how to achieve this healthy environment by listening to their team members’ needs and checking in on their well-being.
“Psychological safety is a capacity to feel safe to express your boundaries, trust others to recognize your legitimate concerns, speak up about your fears, issues and what needs to change – all without the risk of being shamed, undermined, or penalized.” – Dr. Soracha Cashman, Cognitive Neuropsychologist and Coach.
12 Think about the big picture
Good managers think about the big picture. This means considering the long-term effects of decisions. According to Bárcenas, “think about what the team’s goals will be in the upcoming future and how the team will be structured in the future.” This thinking ahead will help managers make effective long-term progress.
Bárcenas suggests asking the following questions when thinking about the big picture:
- What skills are the team missing?
- Who else should we hire to grow our team in the right direction?
- What is the big goal we are trying to accomplish as a team?
Essential skills of managers
The difference between leadership and management comes down to 7 distinguishing factors: leaders think vision, leaders align people, leaders think ideas, leadership is a quality, leaders inspire, leaders look to the future, and leaders shape company culture. Thus, leaders should have both leadership and management skills to be good managers.
Here are 5 skills to help you become a better leader, according to Forbes:
- Goal setting
According to Bárcenas, “as a manager, part of being a good communicator is understanding how to communicate in different ways depending on your team members’ personalities and preferences.” For example, some employees will be very expressive and prefer face-to-face conversations, while others may be more reserved and prefer text-based communication. In all, good managers know how to communicate with each employee to maintain effective communication.
3 Project management
Project management skills are essential for managers to start and finish a successful project effectively. With the help of their team, managers are constantly jumping from one project to the next. According to Harvard Business Review, “the project manager identifies the central problem to solve and determines, with input from the sponsor and stakeholders, how to tackle it: what the project’s objectives and scope will be and which activities will deliver the desired results.” This is essential for managers because they have to support their team by helping them solve issues and complete projects.
The final essential skill for managers is finance skills. While leading their team, managers must be able to follow their budget. This means learning where to invest money – resources, employees, etc. – to get the most effective outcomes. While this may seem simple, learning which areas the budget will impact the most can be difficult and take time to learn. Nevertheless, mastering your finance skills will allow you to get the most out of your budget and grow your team.
The bottom line
Simply put, without managers, organizations would fail. Managers play a huge role in the industry by producing growth with high-performing teams. In all, managers will always be a crucial part of any business by playing a role in tasks like decision-making to hiring and training new employees.