Management Development For Competitive Advantage

Written by Joe Driscoll

November 27, 2009

You have been doing your job so well that your are going to be promoted. Instead of doing the work that you have done so well, you are now going to be asked to supervise and direct others in doing that work. Welcome to management!

Most managers, whether newly appointed supervisors, sales managers, or business owners, achieved their management position because they succeeded in doing “things” well. Success in management is different however, the emphasis shifts from “doing the work” to “getting things done through others”.

The people that you will now be responsible for supervising most likely don’t do the job as well as you did (if they did, they probably would have received the promotion). Unfortunately however, you are now held accountable for the work that will be performed by people less skilled than yourself. It’s no small challenge.

Accountants, engineers, nurses, machine operators, and sales people all must adapt to a new role when they begin to manage the work of others. The new role is no longer that of the “doer”, you now must take charge of all the “doings”. It is no longer sufficient to be responsible for your own time, you now must manage other peoples time.

In your former role you received the satisfaction of knowing when your work was done. Management is much like motherhood, the work is never done. The work of the supervisor is intangible, there is no finished product to admire. This lack of tangible output often tempts the new supervision back to the role of “doer”, but this temptation only complicates making the transition to becoming an effective manager.

And perhaps one of the most difficult transitions of all concerns how your performance will be evaluated. As a “doer” you were evaluated on what you did, now, as a manager, you will be evaluated on what other people did.

A well run business has a responsibility to provide a healthy and challenging work environment for its employees. The profitability of a business and its responsibilities to its employees are mutually compatible. Neither objective is well served by promoting people into management and supervisory positions without proper training. Their performance will suffer, their personal job satisfaction will be effected, and the relationship between the people they supervise and your business will deteriorate.

Most people view their relationship to their work through their “boss”. If you want that relationship between your employees and your business to be good, you must insure that all the “bosses” are properly trained. Any union organizer will tell you that the relationship between the first line management and the employees is one of the factors with the greatest impact on unionization.

Training managers is not a panacea for all the problems within an organization. Hard work, co-operation, and good intentions are equally important. But, hard work without training and preparation is a prescription for frustration. While training is not the solution, it is a prerequisite for maximum performance.

You see it in sports all the time. Raw talent will dominate in the early years. But talent will only get you so far. When the competition gets stiff, only those who are willing to work hard with the proper training and preparation succeed. Is your business competitive?

In competitive business situations, the talents and resources of the competitors within an industry are often quite comparable. It maybe difficult to achieve and sustain a 2% advantage in operating costs, however, a 20% increase in management effectiveness is usually obtainable. Management development is a tool for strategic competitive advantage.

The term “management” covers a broad spectrum of responsibilities. The spectrum goes from “doing” to “getting things done” to “deciding what to do”. It begins with supervision, includes middle management, and ends with the chief executive.

People enter the ranks of management because they do things well. They move up the ranks of management because they get other people to do things well. While success at one level is generally a prerequisite to promotion, it is by no means a predictor of performance at the next level.

Top managers achieved their positions because they were able “to get things done through others”. Now the focus of their attention must shift to deciding “what needs to be done”. Planning. This is the strategic challenge for the top management of businesses of all sizes.

Management is a learned discipline. There are no naturals. Because its your business, develop your managers for a lasting competitive advantage.

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