The Ellipses Were Included
One of my favorite running jokes on the American (and significantly more successful) version of The Office, is the title of General Manager of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton branch Michael Scott’s guide on management. Though he never seemed to have complete the book, his title, in my eyes, was perfect: “Somehow I Manage…” The ellipses were included in his version, verbally noted, if my memory doesn’t fail me.
I love a good pun. And, although his inability to complete the book reflects more on his silly incompetence as a character than on the complexity of explaining management, it does beg the question: How does one manage? More importantly, how does one manage well?
What is Management?
The first step in this process is to talk about what the heck management is, anyway. Google’s definition reads: “man-ag-er; noun; a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.”
Whew, that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
A manager is different than an owner, though owners often perform the function of manager, especially with a new business. The owner oversees the entire big, detailed picture of the business’ purpose, future, marketing, successes, failures, and more. The manager makes it as easy as possible for the owner to do this; though, of course, that’s a bit overly simplistic.
A manager oversees staff, whether all employees or certain subsets of staff.
At a coffee shop, for example, the individual stores would likely have General Managers who oversee the bigger picture, including staffing, financial holdings, and scheduling in addition to much more. Then there could be an assistant manager who acts as a go-between for the staff and the manager so that the manager can work on those bigger picture items without unnecessary disruptions; the assistant manager may be in charge of assigning breaks and cleaning schedules.
There also could be a night manager, who is essential as an assistant manager but in charge of the evening staff and closing the store. I was the night manager at a coffee shop for a while. I functioned as a barista and assistant director, collaborating with the manager and the assistant manager earlier in the afternoon, and then I was the manager for the rest of the evening when the General Manager and the Assistant Manager left for the day.
Depending on the type of business, type of owner, even the types of individual managers, different managers will do different things and handle management in various ways. There are some basic, pretty universal aspects of management that are good to keep in mind, however; and, of course, there are some ideas as to how to be a manager who is successful both in the eyes of her staff and her superiors, and even, possibly, herself!
Truthfully, If you don’t keep up with the Houston Business Chronicle, specifically their small business section, you need to. Many times it’s where I get my ideas for blogs for this site or, at the very least, information for the business-focused blogs. The list the five core functions of a manager or leader (including supervisors, team leaders, or any other type of leader person) as Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Coordinating and Controlling.
Planning means laying out goals and the strategies to achieve them. This can refer to day-to-day, shift-to-shift or even hour-to-hour goals, as well as goals for bigger chunks of time, from months to years. As an assistant manager, I would help planning on an hourly basis for who to send on break when to accommodate schedules and typical rush hours. Weekly goals could include making sure staff members were rotated throughout the different stations as well as the various cleaning/task assignments in a fair and balanced way. Yearly considerations would be something like figuring out how to increase sales and so forth.
According to the Chronicle, “planning involves flexibility, as the planner must coordinate with all levels of management and leadership in the organization” and, I would add, staff. Many times, staff have ideas or insight that might not occur to managers and be open to their input is a good way of encouraging their engagement, optimize success and garner their respect and cooperation.
Organizing for me meant creating cleaning schedules; as the Night Manager, I was in charge of making the shop look good as new for the next day’s inevitable massive morning rush. Depending on your particular role as manager, your organizational needs may vary. Managers must be organized to make the day-to-day functioning as smooth, productive and fruitful as possible.
Often, for managers, this requires being several steps ahead of everyone else and will intrinsically be tied to planning. “Organization also involves developing the organizational structure and chain of command within the company.” The organization can be everything from contributing to scheduling and task assignments to literally organizing merchandise or supplies to keep track of inventory and keep a clean, efficient store.
Staffing, like I said, is often up to the General Manager; though, at my coffee shop, which was a chain, they had a hiring manager who distributed new hires to each store as needed. If this is the case for you, even as a manager you’ll need to have an idea of what kind of staffing needs you have or will have, including whether or not all of your current staff members are working out and maximizing the efficiency and success of the store. Staffing also includes performance reviews, promotions, transfers, training, et cetera. I was promoted because my General Manager recommended me to the hiring manager for elevation. I’ve also contributed to conversations about who on staff is working out, who should potentially be let go or re-trained, and who could be promoted.
Coordinating the Collaboration
Coordinating means essentially bringing all of the above categories together for a smooth and successful company function. Whether you’re an introvert or someone with social anxiety, being a manager means team-work, collaboration, and meetings—lots and lots of meetings. That’s where the coordinating happens; you come together with your fellow managers and superiors to coordinate plans for scheduling, raises, staffing changes, events, and more. You also meet to coordinate that information once it is agreed upon with your staff members so that everyone is on the same page and in clear understanding of what’s going on and what’s expected of them.
Controlling has a bad connotation, but it’s essentially a synonym for managing. “Controlling involves establishing performance standards and monitoring the output of employees to ensure each employee’s performance meets those standards.”
None of these categories would be at all successful without my own addition to this list: communication.0
Clear Concise Understandable
Clear, concise and understandable communication is the only way you’re going to be able to understand what’s expected of you, figure out how to achieve that, and communicating your plans, strategies, and ideas with everyone involved. You need to be able to listen to staff and your superiors as well as communicate with them in a way that is respectful of their position and ensures that you understand each other well enough to work as a team and achieve the goals of the company.
Communication often entails being flexible in your communication style depending on who you’re communicating with. As a manager, I had staff who I could be semi-casual with but still trust that they knew what I said was what needed to be done. On the flip side, I had staff that I had to be firm and direct with to guarantee that they took me seriously and respected my word. I always tried to keep a personable relationship with my staff because it’s important to me to be liked; but, it definitely didn’t work all the time when people would try to take advantage of my easy-going nature.
As a subordinate, I always appreciate a manager I can relate to because it makes me feel like they view me as human and understand what my job entails. I am less motivated when a manager seems disconnected from the reality of my position and has impossible expectations because of that remove. Whatever kind of manager you are, don’t forget that your staff is human, individuals and that respecting them can be just as important as getting their respect. Often, respecting them is one of the best strategies for getting them to recognize you.
- Importance of Management
- Why Managers Are So Important to Business Success
- Managing Your Managers: They Are Your Eyes & Ears