So, I’ve been thinking about management training recently, and while I’m collecting my thoughts, I thought it would be good to talk about what ‘management’ is, at its most fundamental.
I’m going to make some assumptions here:
– Management is about the art of helping people to work together towards a common goal
– We’re talking about ‘good’ management, which is trying to do the above in a positive and sustainable way
– The things we’re going to talk about will be relevant to all organizations with some sort of hierarchy, and perhaps some without
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, manage.’
– A paraphrase of a quote from George Bernard Shaw
The quote above, while flip, has some interesting truth to it. I would argue that, beyond perverse financial incentives, those who decide to go into management from an individual contributor (IC) role do so because of some competitive advantage pushing that choice. Likely one of:
– They are better at managing then at being an individual contributor (leading to the quote above)
– They are better as an IC than as a manager, but they are better than anyone else at being a manager (competitive advantage)
– They are better as an IC than as a manager, but they are afraid that any one other than them chosen to be manager will be worse (and/or they want control over their work environment/process)
So, having some idea of why people ‘get into’ management, what is ‘management’?
Like we said above, ‘management’ is the art of helping people work together towards a common goal, in a positive and sustainable way.
To me, this includes the following components:
– Helping people work together towards the goals of one’s team
– Helping people work together towards the goals of the larger organization
– Helping people and the organization as a whole improve goals and process
– Helping your team (and yourself) achieve career goals
– Keeping your team (and yourself) happy
Now that we have some categories, we’ll continue next time going into a little more detail. Thanks for listening. 🙂
 And feeling super-pompous about it. Luckily, I have good friends who will tell me when I’m full of it. 🙂
 I use the word ‘helping’ here, a relatively positive word, and probably suitable for working with one’s direct reports, or in a truly psychologically safe environment. Sadly, most environments are not that, and people must often be convinced to do what is in the best interests of the organization (and often must be convinced to do what is in their own best interest, too). ‘Convincing’, or ‘getting’ might be used in other environments, but even in those environments, I think ‘helping’ is still a healthier and more productive choice.
 Public, private, etc…
 There are some organizations where the structure is such that one can only advance in one’s career (read payscale) by advancing in ‘management’. Some would say that most large organizations are like this to some extent. This discussion, while important, is out of scope.
 I have much to say (and many books have been written) about the ways in which organizations do non-optimal things, decide on non-optimal goals, or otherwise lose their way. (My favourite book which touches on this is ‘The Goal’, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt.)
 It’s incredibly important to support your team, and do the best you can to ensure their success. In general, you become successful when your team is successful. There will be points where this diverges, though, and it’s important to know when those are, as you and your team members will be healthier with healthier boundaries.