Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Manager - The Hardest Job!

by John Berry, Extension Educator, Lehigh Co.

I enjoy the comedy of Bill Cosby and remember his thoughts on being the boss.  His observation goes something like "I've seen the boss's job...and I don't want it!"  For many farm business managers, the tasks of effective management may not come with ease.  As we seek to more effectively utilize and grow our business skills, let's remember some of the differences between being a manager and not being a manager.

Good managers create, not consume, workplace energy.  Recall the four "classic" functions of management - Plan, Organize, Lead, and Control - that you learned in school?  Although these basic functions are fine for taking care of most of your day-to-day management duties, they fail to reflect the reality of many workplace situations, and discount the power of a valuable manager-worker partnership.

Today's manager needs an additional set of management functions that are based on forging a strong employee-employer relationship:

Energize.  Managers often need to be masters of making things happen.  You can be the best analyst in the world or the most highly organized executive on the planet, but if the level of excitement you generate can be likened more to a dish rag than to a spark plug, then you may never have what it takes to create a truly great environment.  Great managers create far more energy than they consume.  Instead of taking energy from the organization, the best managers channel and amplify energy to the organization.

Empower.  Great managers allow their employees to do great work typically by empowering them to excel.  This is a key management function because even the greatest manager in the world cannot succeed all by themselves.  To achieve organizational goals, managers depend on the skills that their employees are capable of delivering.  Effective management is the leveraging of the efforts of every member of a work group toward a common purpose.  If you are constantly doing your employees' work for them, not only have you lost the advantage of leverage that your employees can provide, but you are also putting yourself on the path to stress.

Support.  The key to creating a supportive environment is establishing openness throughout an organization.  In an open environment, employees can bring up questions and concerns - in fact, they are encouraged to do so.  When employees see their managers are open to new ideas, they are more likely to offer suggestions and new ideas.

Communicate.  Information is power, and as the speed of business continues to accelerate, information must be communicated to employees more and more rapidly.  Constant change and increasing turbulence in the business environment necessitate more and constant communication, not less.

Management is not what you do to people; it's what you do for them.  We often give short shrift to the social fulfillment components of work.  However, much research exists that shows employees value the soft aspects of their jobs just as much (and sometimes more) than economic rewards.  Managers who truly manage their employees - who energize them, empower them, support them, and communicate with them - will attract and retain key employees because of the trust and commitment they actively seek to build.

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