When people are interviewed for, and appointed to, managerial positions with subordinates, they are seldom told about the unwritten responsibilities that form part and parcel of the task of managing a team of people.

Whether the new appointee will be able to rise to the challenge presented by these unlisted responsibilities remains to be seen. These responsibilities relate to guiding, coaching, mentoring and training the staff, giving clear direction and assistance, and the sharing of knowledge and experience freely with the staff, as and when necessary.

In many instances, it is assumed that anyone applying for, and appointed to, the position of a “manager with subordinates” knows, understands and accepts the full role of the manager, including these unwritten responsibilities. A further assumption is that the new manager is competent in this field of management and is willing and able to perform these duties. Are these assumptions always valid?

No, unfortunately not and there will be some candidates that are more suited to the role than others. Ideally, the recruiting officers should always ensure that the candidate knows, understands and accepts these responsibilities during the interview and appointment process. They should also check work references from this perspective in order to verify the candidate’s competency and experience in this regard. This does not always happen, and the result is that the new appointee may be a mismatch in a very important area of responsibility, namely, that of investing in his/her staff. The price for this mismatch is often the loss of loyal, hardworking employees.

Some managers have the skills and technical knowledge required for the job, as well as the ability to fulfill these unwritten responsibilities, and they do so with passion and dedication, knowing that these tasks are every bit as important to the overall success of the team and that of each individual member, as attending to all their other duties.

Other managers are highly qualified specialists in their particular field of expertise, who have no time for these unwritten responsibilities. When appointed to managerial positions with subordinates, the specialist will certainly get the job done; in fact they are key role players as they bring their expertise to the table, but at what price? The price is usually paid by the staff, as their growth and development does not receive any attention. The specialist usually performs best in a consulting role to the business, and is generally happier without subordinates.

Both types of managers are important and have their place on a well balanced team; both are necessary for the overall success of the business. A little extra due diligence when recruiting them can ensure that they are appointed to positions where they can work to their strengths. It will also save the company the trouble and the cost of replacing good staff lost in the fallout and trying to up-skill the specialist to fit a role that does not come naturally to him/her.

The same differences can be noticed at all levels, not only at managerial level. Some people are naturally inclined to helping others to succeed, sharing of their knowledge and experience freely; others are technical specialists in their particular field of expertise. Which one are you?

Knowing your strengths empowers you to choose positions that suit you best, ensuring that you enjoy a productive and rewarding career.

This article was published on Women Inc, the complete resource for the working woman. Women Inc offers articles on entrepreneurship, management, personal effectiveness and issues beyond the workplace (www.womeninc.co.za).

Small Business Forum

The Small Business Forum is an independent network of entrpreneurs and small business owners established to encourage and support the creation, growth and development of small business in South Africa.

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