The Manager's Role: From "Forcer" to Facilitator

It seems to me that most people have an old-fashioned view of what a manager does: Force lazy people to do their work.

Maybe we needed managers to do that in the past, when the Industrial Revolution left people stuck in factories where the work was miserable. In cubes in large bureaucracies where you largely did what you were told and didn't ask questions.

That doesn't work at all in the modern office.

Now, people are actually self-motivated.

They don't need a manager to tell them what to do.

They need a manager to open the doors that are otherwise closed to them.

Doors of irrationality, of incomprehensible process, of politics, of turf battles, of culture wars, of unreasonable demands made by people at all levels of the organization.

Doors that, left the way they are, make it impossible to do your job.

The role of the manager is light years away from the leader, in this formulation.

The leader says, "I want this to happen. Make it so!" (A la Patrick Stewart in Star Trek)

The manager says, "Yes ma'am (or sir)" - then figures out how the people involved will be enabled to carry out orders in a world of closed and closing doors.

To do this the manager has to leave their office door wide open and let people in and out all day long. There and in the hallway - shmooze, shmooze, shmooze. Insight into problems comes from the people confronted with them. Answers, too.

Managers don't need to have the answers. We live in a world where there are none. No clear paths ahead.

So we need good managers more than ever. But as listeners, as facilitators. Not control freaks.

But we shouldn't be asking how managers will "control their people" and "make them get the work done."

We should ask how managers will empower the worker and set the people free. So that they can be most productive for the employer.

Just a thought.

Have a great day everyone!