As a business or organization grows, leadership will find that they cannot manage everything alone. At some point, they will need to hire managers to oversee areas of their business.
Managers are valuable members of an organization. Their primary role is to ensure the smooth operation of an area of a business.
In the 21st Century, business structures are increasingly complex. The complexity of businesses today reinforces the importance of managers for workplaces.
Here are 9 reasons managers are important in 21st Century workplaces:
The Importance of Managers
1. They ensure Smooth Operation of Daily Procedures
The manager’s role is to ensure the day-to-day operation of a business or organization is smooth and orderly.
Without a manager, we might find that there is no one accountable for ensuring everyone is pushing in the same direction. Managers will ensure all staff are working towards a common goal and are following a clear set of standard operating procedures.
When serious problems arise throughout the day, it is the manager’s responsibility to address them. Often, staff members will be required to “escalate” a problem that they identify to the manager if they cannot (or do not have permission to) solve it themselves.
The manager then needs to use critical thinking and problem solving skills to address the problem so that it does not interrupt the smooth operation of the organization.
2. They can Motivate Staff
One of the most fulfilling aspects of being a manager is being able to mentor your staff. A manager acts as a leader whose job is to get the best out of each staff member.
A bad manager might be too harsh, mean or discourteous with staff members. This might de-motivate staff. No one wants to work for someone who is unkind. Staff with low morale might be less invested in the organization’s success and care less about doing a good job.
However, a manager who is too relaxed may also come across problems. If they are not personally motivated, this may rub-off on the other staff members.
A good manager can motivate staff members by mentoring them. The manager will identify the needs and aspirations of staff members and help them meet their goals. Managers can motivate staff by giving them responsibilities and opportunities for development.
Related: 18 Best Leadership Metaphors
3. They act as the Intermediary between Staff and Ownership
Often times, leadership is not aware of the daily issues that arise among staff ‘on the coalface’. The leaders are busy working on higher-level issues like growth strategies, finding strategic partners and managing budgets. They may not be able to keep a close eye on the staff themselves.
Managers often end up being the people who have close contact with both staff and ownership.
It is therefore the manager’s responsibility to let the ownership know when staff are facing serious issues in the workplace. They might also let management know when staff are discontent or have low morale.
Similarly, the managers are often tasked with informing staff of organizational changes, rules changes and strategic decisions made by leadership.
The managers therefore hold an important responsibility linking leadership to staff members.
- Related: The Shannon-Weaver Model of Communication
- Related: Relational Dialectics Theory of Communication
4. They can Identify Bottlenecks in a Business Structure
The manager has a role as an overseer. They are the people who are best positioned to see areas of operations that are causing delays and disruptions. We often call these areas of delay and disruption ‘bottlenecks’.
An example of a bottleneck might be when one section of a production line is working slower than the rest. The manager may find that the entire process is slowed by that section of production, leading to decreased output at the end.
We’ve all experienced a bottleneck when driving in a car. The highway goes down from three lanes to two, and suddenly the cars pile up and the journey gets slower. The same happens in business when one area of operations is less effective than the others.
5. They Delegate Tasks to Ensure Optimal Efficiency
This is another way that the manager acts as an overseer. They need to be able to look at the department they manage and identify opportunities for improved efficiency.
To achieve optimum efficiency, the manager needs to know how to allocate resources and delegate tasks.
To do this, the manager often needs deep knowledge of their staff members. They need to know which staff member would be best placed in which role to get the best results. Similarly, they have the ability to allocate workloads or resources in different ways to get different results.
By allocating resources and delegating tasks effectively, the business or organization can run more smoothly and productively.
6. They set the Tone of the Workplace
A manager is necessary for ensuring a workplace retains a professional, productive and collegiate tone.
Without a manager, there is no leader to look to who can set an example of the expectations of behavior.
Similarly, a manager with poor communication skills might set a poor tone that trickles down to the employees. Examples might include managers who bark orders, appear constantly stressed, swear, or fail to explain their expectations.
By contrast, a good manager might ensure the workplace retains a professional atmosphere by acting as a role model. Modelled positive behavior could include: turning up on time, dressing appropriately, addressing others with respect, and working hard.
Related: 23 Qualities of a Good Teacher
7. They can Reduce Operating Costs
Cost-cutting opportunities are apparent in nearly every business and organization. With organizational growth comes bureaucracy, mistakes, and redundancy that needs to be re-examined on a regular basis.
The manager is in a good position to identify areas for cost reduction. They may find that a position on staff is no longer needed (or not with the cost). They may identify ways to automate processes outsource them to other organizations. Or, they may identify smoother ways of operations (see: identifying bottlenecks above).
However, a manager needs to know that reducing costs cannot come at the expense of quality or safety. Due diligence must be taken to ensure cost-cutting exercises do not harm the organization’s long-term goals, the experiences of clients, or the well-being of the remaining staff.
8. They ensure Long-Term Success of a Business
Many small businesses are reluctant to hire managers. A manager can be a large cost burden for the business owner.
However, longer-term growth and success may be dependent on the utilization of a manager. The managers make sure the day-to-day operations of a business continue to run smoothly while leadership works on higher-level growth strategies.
By working with managers, leadership can put in place standard operating procedures that make sure minimum standards are adhered to.
Furthermore, the managers are often the people involved in hiring and firing decisions. When a manager is given responsibilities for hiring, they are also given the responsibility for choosing team members who will be in the organization for years to come.
Their decisions are therefore deeply important for the workplace’s future.
9. They Liaise with other Departments to Ensure Effective Operations
When there are multiple managers in an organization, they need to be able to work together. Communication between departments relies on managers maintaining ongoing relationships with one another.
Managers will often have group meetings to discuss how they can support one another, align their operating procedures, and work together to ensure the organization runs smoothly.
Without this management-level communication, elements of large organizations may operate in bubbles with completely different standards and procedures. This, in turn, will create inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and differential customer experiences.
So, What Makes a Good Manager?
With these 9 points on the importance of managers, you might be asking: what are the characteristics of a good manager?
Here’s a few examples of good managerial skills:
- Emotional Intelligence: A manager needs to be able to understand everyone’s perspective. They need to be able to empathize with their staff and ensure their staff are content and feel valued. This requires emotional intelligence.
- Leadership: A manager has to lead. This includes setting an example of good work ethic, taking command when decisions need to be made, considering others’ input before deciding, and showing people how to improve.
- Problem Solving Skills: Every day, problems arise that managers need to address. Often, staff don’t have permission to address higher-level problems, especially ones that involve financial considerations. Therefore, managers need to step in and make a decision with the authority and insight they have from managing financial and higher-level aspects of the organization.
- Flexible: No day is the same as the last for a manager. Someone calls in sick, the finances take a hit, or something breaks. These are all the manager’s job to deal with! Sometimes leadership above you will make a strategic change that requires your attention. With all of these moving parts in your job, you need to roll with the punches and make adjustments to the daily running of the organization to steer the ship through rough waters.
- Multitasking: Taking a step up to management means that you no longer have one standard procedure to follow every day in your job. Instead, you’re overseeing resources, staff, clients, finances, stocktake, etc. all at once.
- Organization: Because you have so many tasks to manage, you need to be organized. Organizational skills include planning ahead, being able to keep accurate records, have a procedure for storage, and putting in place standard operating procedures. When you’re organized, you will have a more in-depth understanding of the business, be prepared for when things change on a dime, and be less stressed overall!
- Delegation: You’ll have a lot of tasks to oversee – far too many than you can do alone! It’s the manager’s job to spread out various tasks to employees. You need to know how to delegate instead of micromanaging and doing everything yourself. When delegating, you need to know who can handle the extra workload and who will do the job most efficiently.
- Big Picture Thinking: A manager needs to know what’s best for the whole organization. Unfortunately sometimes that means letting go staff or cutting back on hours to ensure a business stays financially viable.
A manager is important for the smooth and effective operation of complex workplaces. They are also invaluable for ensuring staff and leadership work together effectively. To achieve their goals, managers need emotional intelligence, problem-solving skills, and strong communication skills. These 9 points on the importance of managers are even more important in the 21st Century when organizational structures are becoming more complex.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]