This post is inspired by my random pontifications as I'm closing upon the completion of my MBA in April. Being an MBA candidate has been very exciting; the finish line is near and now is the time to keep the momentum up! Well, I was thinking one day about some of the tasks I had to do as a manager and tasks done to me by managers. Some management processes are simply in place as the nature of the organizational beast. Other times, they are implemented by the managers themselves as a personal lever. In either case, I find that there exists (at least!) five management tasks that are truly wasteful and destructive to organizational values.
Five Wasteful Management Tasks
- Scheduling is perhaps my biggest pet peeve when it comes to the misuse of managerial resources. It doesn't take a manager to schedule. In fact, it is a double waste as this takes away from a manager's productivity and ability to attend to business unit issues on a daily basis and forces them to do something less profitable to the company at large. Scheduling is better performed by an internal call center department. Having a department specifically dedicated to the scheduling, pulling, and pushing of human resources on a day to day and hour by hour basis under request of the managers of each business unit centralizes human resources when it comes to labor hours. It also allow the manager to be a manager, not his/her own secretary per se. The way I see it, managers are paid and tasked as stewards of business units. They add value by their very presence, their ability to maintain healthy operations and optimize them over time. It is their job to develop and cultivate the growth of excellence in their business unit, and, to bear the weighted duty of problem solving when the proverbial fecal matter hits the fan. Companies are far better suited in freeing managers to do their job and not bear down upon them tasks better suited for a separate department which can by itself already create far more value across the organization than an over tasked manager repeated in series throughout the chain of command.
2. Performance Assessment Robbery... Oh, sorry. I mean "reviews."
- Let's face it, yearly reviews tend to have some element injected into the process where the most deserving employees are typically docked just enough points to rob them from a meritorious raise. WHY is this generally ubiquitous across nearly all organizations? Honestly, I have no good answer. Everyone says this is to cut costs. But, I think not only does it do that, it discourages good staff (possibly decreasing their productivity) and honestly puts them at risk of leaving the organization, lowering the human capital available to the firm. This is truly a stupid process. If employees perform well, reward them! Don't take from them simply because it is the thing to do. If times are tough, say so. People will get it. But, this underhanded way of cutting people off at the knees.... Ugh! Makes me mad.
3. Intra-departmental Politics
- While maneuvering through external politics is absolutely a critical function and required skill of a manager, making sure everyone is playing nice in the playground is an infantile and rather ridiculous task given to management. I found that one of the most insane and ridiculous tasks I had to do as a manager was playing teacher for kids to play nice with each other. Honestly, if the policies were in place, I'd have a better solution. GO TO HR! That is what HR is for. It is wasteful for managers to play mediator between team members for petty differences. Now, for professional disagreements, there is definitely a duty upon the manager to resolve the issues. However, when things are truly petty... that is when they should go the proverbial principal. Go. To. HR! Deal with it there and don't come back until you do. The workplace is no place for personal drama.
4. "The budget"
- Corporate accounting is usually in charge of accounting these days. Having managers re-double their efforts on the numbers, in my opinion, is a little redundant and qualitatively backwards. Corporate accountants are highly trained for the very specific purpose of making sure the budget will fit operational goals. The job of the manager is to fit their operations within those parameters, and if unable, to put in a request/report for variance. Nevertheless, I've seen this redundancy occur (typically in larger organizations) by where both accountant and manager go over the same budgetary considerations. Unless the manager needs to serve as an accountant for lack of one, this just seems silly. Wouldn't it be a better use of resources for the manager to dedicate themselves to the operational aspects of their business unit if they have the support elsewhere? I'm not saying for managers to ignore their own budget, I'm simply saying there is no need for two people to do the same job when one is clearly better at it -AND- is going to be the final say anyway. A manager's responsibility over the budget should be operational; the accountant's responsibility should be financial. That is where they should meet and those are the grounds they should work from.
- Surely, there are meetings where management level staff need to be present. However, my experience is that the majority of meetings exist because they always have. Some meetings can be attended to by line-staff or senior-staff as a better allocation of resources. Why? Well, first the staff member will feel privileged to go to a management meeting to represent the manager, the team members, and the department at large. Secondly, many "meetings" are merely grumblings on the daily grind of things. Managers tend to know less about this than those who are already in the front line. Who better to represent concerns and bring solutions to issues than front line staff? Also, so very many meetings can and should be done virtually; either through live digital means or through shared online documents. Really, the purpose of meetings is to conglomerate ideas; if this process can be done with more agility, why not do it?
So, those are my top five pet peeve management tasks which I think should simply be erased off the face of the earth if possible. Now, certain firms will require cross-functionality because of size, scale, or leanness. In which case, sure, having a manager schedule because the business unit is the manager and two other team members... that makes perfect sense. In that same situation, the manager should certainly also serve as the accountant if there is no further infrastructure in their firm. However, should the firm be of scale and have the available resources, doesn't it simply make more sense to have value added across two business units than for double the value to be taken from one, by making managers perform tasks outside of their true purpose and cut value to a fraction? I think so! But, that's just me.
Just my thoughts until next time!