Roles of managers are changing

The roles of managers are changing and there are some trends here, no doubt. You can study this trends just by reading job announcements. Here are some examples of shifting roles of managers as communicators:

The manager is going from being manager to coach and mentor.

Leaders today shall focus more on helping their employees grow as individuals rather than giving orders. I'm not saying that we shouldn't give orders. A good manager is somebody that is both clear and caring. Mangers must be very clear on what rules we have as a group, what is accepted and what is not. He or she should also be very clear on what our task and objectives are.

Leaders are responsible for giving big picture and context

Employees want direction more than anything. They need a clear purpose and a context to fit in to. Why are we doing this change? What will it lead to? How will it improve my life? As a manager you need to be able to address this issues. It doesn’t mean that you must have all the answers, but you need to give room for discussions. One of the top reasons why most change programs fail, is because the organisation has not been committed to the “why”.

Managers must therefore be able to give the big picture and the context in which we operate. I would say that this is probably the most important roles of managers.

Responsible for sorting, prioritising and adapting information

Many organisations have large Intranets and other sources of information. When I left Ericsson in the year 2000 we had an Intranet with over 6 million pages and over 3000 sites, we sent and received over 1 million emails per day. This might sound extreme, but trust me, it’s the way it is in many companies and organisations today.

So, where does this leave the employees? Well, I presume that you don’t want your employees to surf the Intranet all day long, trying to find the important stuff. Your job would be to help your employees to sort and prioritize the information. Many managers make it a habit to print out information from the Intranet and from other sources that they believe would help employees to understand the big picture, and then leaving copies in the coffee room or on the billboard.Others write weekly letters where they summarize information they received or stumbled across during the week. The more work you (or somebody you assign) put in to this the more time your employees can spend on their actual work. Maybe the most important roles of managers is to go from producer to reducer

Translating big picture messages to something meaningful

- How does an organisational change in an other department effect us?

One of your important tasks, as a manager, is to translate big picture messages into consequences for your employees. And this could also be one of the most difficult tasks because you might not understand it yourself. There are some good tools to use (I will publish some of them here soon).

Making the job make sense

What it all boil down to is that everyone wants to know how they fit into the big picture. Your job as a manager is to show people how they contribute to the larger picture. By setting goals and following up on results, by talking about the world outside the department or group etc.

Why it doesn’t work

If you are having problems making it work. Take a look at the list below. Here is some of the reasons why managers fail in their role:

  • Unclear management roles and expectations.
  • Many managers doesn’t take the role as translator, explaining for their employees.
  • Managers don’t feel that they have enough time – think, it is the information departments role!?
  • It is not clear what the responsibility for communication actually means
  • Employees don’t see the vision, are not given the right questions that engage and create involvement.
  • Managers are not being measured on their communication skills

”How are employees supposed to be able to contribute if they not are given the right premises and managements view on development?”

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