The value of management

Some look at management duties as just another bullet on a list of responsibilities in a job description. It is a skill that might be required for a position, with associated activities to perform, such as one-on-one meetings and performance reviews.

But management is so much more than that. Management is a value system.

A value is defined as:

  • the importance, worth, or usefulness of something
  • a principle or standard of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important

“Management” must have its own independent value for it to have an impact in your life, the life of your direct reports, and within an organization. Management does not serve its purpose as duties and responsibilities outside a value framework.  

Values do not change with the shifting winds. Values are sustained over time. The value of management, then, is achieving an outcome, seeking optimal effectiveness, and sustaining it over time.

To explore this concept, let’s consider an environment without any management at all. What might that scenario look like? No guidance. No direction. No oversight.

Everyone just doing what they felt best. It doesn’t have to be an extreme situation of incompetents. It can be a scenario in which you have many talented, capable, even brilliant people in the same room, independently doing what they feel is best and initiating what they personally feel is the ideal course of action to get to achieve a goal.

And what outcome do you suppose that scenario has?

Let’s take another scenario. Let’s consider an environment with management present, but only manifesting as a series of actions with no buy-in regarding intrinsic value of management. There are rules and procedures, protocols to be followed. Managers do exactly what the bullets on their job descriptions say they must do to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

Paperwork is completed. One-on-one meetings occur weekly. Reports are filed with HR. Performance evaluations are done on time.

And what is the outcome of this scenario? Following rules, having meetings, completing paperwork… these are all things that take time, and in some cases, a considerable amount of time. What would you have to show for it, exactly?

Final scenario. Let’s consider an environment in which management is established with a clear value system as its foundation – management is there not to just get results, but to sustain results with constant employee growth and development in order to keep feeding the pipeline with high performers. The worth and importance of the management layer is defined – and even better, it’s explicitly communicated to everyone, at all layers. The principles behind the management activity are established.

Let’s take it one step further: Not only does the management layer appreciate the value of management in and of itself, but you only get to be a manager if you understand and agree with the underlying principles of management at the organization. Being a manager, then, is not just a bullet on a list of duties in a job description; it is acceptance and furtherance of the values inherent to the role.

Now, what are the outcomes in this scenario?

The value of management rests in achieving an outcome of optimal effectiveness, sustained over time. You can’t achieve optimal effectiveness over time…

  • If there is no direction provided to talent toward desired outcomes,
  • If there is no value-based purpose to meetings, procedures, and other activity, or
  • If there is no communication and agreement on the outcomes and principles governing individuals’ and teams’ activities.

Management’s job, at any level, is to keep it up!

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