Monday, March 16, 2015

A Manager's Taks: Make Yourself Redundant

One of the most important lessons after resigning from my position of director of research was that I was replaceable, quite easily actually. Surprisingly, the department didn’t collapse when I left. This may not be great for a manager’s ego but after further consideration, I was wondering whether this wasn’t how it should be. I am also asking myself if the most important job of a manager isn’t to make him/herself redundant or superfluous. That brings up the broader question of how to determine the shelf-life of any leader, all the way up to the CEO.

The most basic task of a manager is to allocate resources. I believe Jack Welch once said that. That applies to a small department and to the entire organization. Resources include money, IT, training and perhaps even most importantly the right people and time. That is the manager’s time as well as time the team needs to work efficiently on their projects and tasks.

Allocating resources is not enough of course because leaders need to inspire and find a way keep themselves inspired. To keep it fresh and to set yourself and your department challenges, the best a manager can do is to review the company’s mission and vision statement and create a departmental mission and a vision statement that supports corporate on its way to achieve the vision.

To achieve the departmental vision and mission, the manager needs to create short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. These will only inspire the team if they are tangible, transparent and achievable. To realize these goals, the leader’s job is to solicit buy-in from his superiors and his department. Good, timely, consistent and transparent communication is the key. That includes regular reporting on how far along the department is as well as frank and open discussions about what works, what doesn’t work and how and who can best fix this.

Supporting and enabling the team and providing positive feedback along each step will get a long way towards achieving goals. This involves daily involvement to ensure execution without micro-managing the team.

On completing important milestones, the manager’s superiors should also acknowledge success. This acknowledgement will be even more encouraging if it happens after a mistake has been identified and fixed. Allowing and encouraging failure is crucial to develop, shape and identify talent. This is how the team learns to run on auto-pilot and how talent is raised.

Once that is achieved, the manager has basically lost an area that needs to be managed. The more such areas a manager loses, the closer he is to achieving a mid-term or long-term goal. The point at which each manager and his superiors should ask themselves whether he should move on is when a long-term goal has been achieved. Either that, you discusses the next long-term goal.


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