A Manager’s Responsibilities
A manager’s responsibilities vary from job to Job and from organization to organization. For example, in one organization, a manager will be responsible for hiring, whereas in another organization, a manager at the same level and with similar status won’t.
To perform as a manager in your organization, you must know what your responsibilities are relative to what you thank they should be. In many organizations you’re expected to “get a fix” on your responsibilities by yourself. Companies just don’t prepare even general lasts of what they expect from their managers. There are several reasons why upper management won’t do so.
Some organizations believe that managers should know their responsibilities without having them spelled out. They reason that the person has already shown, as a worker, that he or she can meet responsibilities. Why not give them a chance to show their capabilities as managers? This thinking represents the ages old sink-or-swim technique. Sometimes the managers can swim, but very often-too often-they sink.
Some executives prefer not to state who is to do what. They believe a good “heave-ho” at the right moment is about all that’s needed. They talk about “doing the job at hand,” about “pitching in with a wil1,” about “showing initiative and resourcefulness,” and about “teamwork”. What they don’t realize is that a team can’t function harmoniously without knowing who is supposed to do what.
Some executives have burnt their fingers trying to lay out a manager’s job. This is likely to happen when executives talk in generalities and try to explain the work situation in a few hastily chosen words. They forget that people often hear what they want to hear and nothing more.
Let’s look at what can happen in this situation. A general manager made his star salesman the sales manager of the company. The manager said, “Juan, I’ve been watching you, and I think you’ll make a good two-fisted sales manager. I want first-class distribution in all the key cities and provinces. You’ve shown you can do it in Luzon now do it nationwide.”
This was just the position Juan wanted, but he heard only “distribution” and “key cities.” He liked to meet people, liked to travel, liked to personally crack an account, and liked the fanfare that went with getting a new account started. So Juan packed his bag and went off to do what the boss told him to do. On the say-so of his boss, he was still a star salesman. Meanwhile, Juan neglected his managing responsibilities. His salesmen didn’t cover their territories, expenses soared, credits and collections became snarled, competitors expanded their operations to reach old and valued jobbers, and back orders of easy-selling items mounted while profitable, quality merchandise remained in the plant warehouse. The boss hadn’t discussed such problems and Juan hadn’t bothered to look upon them as part of his responsibilities. This situation might have been avoided if Juan had known what his responsibilities as manager were.
Let’s contrast Juan’s experience with that of Pilar. Pilar was promoted from assistant office manager to office manager. When the district manager told Pilar of her promotion, she said, “Pilar, I’m happy to see you get this opportunity. Remember, it’s your job now to provide good customer service.”
Pilar was very happy with her promotion and thought a great deal about the district manager’s emphasis on providing good customer service. But Pilar felt uneasy when she thought about the job ahead, so she did some planning and organizing. She and the branch manager developed a list of her new responsibilities from her job description and from the outline of delegation of duties between the branch manager and subordinates. This helped Pilar to put the district manager’s words in perspective. “Providing good customer service” was not, in fact, her job to do; rather, it was Pilar’s responsibility to achieve good customer service through planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling the work of her staff.
You can see that you must have a clear idea of your responsibilities as manager in order to meet them. Finding out exactly what you’re expected to know and do is one of the first steps you must take in developing your managerial ability.
How can you do this? You can begin by stating what you believe your responsibilities are-in your own words. Write them down and think each one through until you’re sure you understand them. Discuss them with your superior and use this feedback to polish your understanding. By doing so, you’ll develop a clearer understanding of the things you’re supposed to do, and you’ll demonstrate to your superior your awareness of these responsibilities. You’ll also become more willing to meet your job responsibilities as a result of “writing your own ticket.”