Key Responsibilities of Management

L. Douglas Mault

February 2006

Let us examine four key responsibilities of management. Executing these responsibilities will enhance your performance as an owner or senior manager.

Seek Out Opportunities. Although it is easier to react than act, activity is paramount over passivity. If you wait for opportunity, you are wasting time, energy and resources. Opportunity may knock only once, but you can find it as often as you look for it.

Opportunities can be found anywhere, but the best and potentially most rewarding ones are found in the marketplace. Management by walking around is not enough; you must manage by walking around "outside” with, for example, your customers.

In many cases, opportunities are disguised as problems. No matter our emphasis on perfection, we will make mistakes, as will our competitors. When a mistake is made, turn it into an opportunity. Handle it in such a way that your customer marvels at your professional response and resolution.

Too often we find our focus on yesterday and today. Although opportunities may be found in reviewing the past or dealing with today, they are most often found by focusing on the future.

Provide Opportunities. Knowledge does not equal action. Knowing of opportunities is not enough. It is far more important to be pro-active, capture the opportunity, present it and explain it to the organization in simple terms.

Once opportunities are captured, they must be translated into goals, objectives, plans and programs. These must be finite, objective, measurable, manageable and achievable. In other words, decide and agree on the desired outcomes.

Provide the Tools. Determine the tools, resources and support needed to reach the goals and objectives and to carry out plans and programs. If they are suitable to the tasks at hand, provide them to the organization.

Do not make the assumption that people know how to use the tools properly. Be sure to provide adequate, professional training in their use.

Finally, require that they be kept in proper working order. Preventive maintenance is always less expensive than the cost of lost production.

Eliminate the Excuses. If the organization is not structured to ensure success, restructure it.

If working conditions are unsuitable to success, change them.

If additional information or knowledge is needed, get it and share it.

If people do not understand the goals, objectives, plans or programs, explain them again. If they do not understand how to properly use the tools provided, train them again. If, despite explanations, training and support, certain people, units, departments or divisions stand in the way of success, move them aside or out.

Finally, measure performance and outcomes, not "hard work” and hours on the job.

In any endeavor there is no substitute for performance. As an owner or senior manager, it is not enough to tell people what they must do. You must exhibit the performances and behaviors you want your employees to emulate.

All organizations inevitably take on the characteristics of the leaders. People will do what you do, not what you say. Your success is in your hands.

About the Author
L. Douglas Mault is president of the Executive Advisory Institute, Yakima, Wash.