From the Ask Tom mailbag -
What is your feeling about a manager only managing one person?
Here is the scenario. We have a Product Manager accountable for new product development research and portfolio creation. Suggestion was to have a Marketing Services person, accountable for the creation of marketing collateral and advertising campaigns, report to the Product Manager. This Marketing Services person would be the only report that the Product Manager would be supervising.
My fear is that the Product Manager, also accountable for major business development activities centering on future business and product development, will be engaged in production type work involving market assessments and research for new product development. The Marketing Services role will be of little help in this work.
The Marketing Services person is accountable for today’s activities rather than future. In some ways it would seem distracting for the Product Manager to supervise the Marketing Services role.
Personally I think the Marketing Services role should report to the Marketing Manager, who is better suited. The Marketing Manager would then have seven direct reports. Better use of resources.
This is a classic example of organizational design, that contemplates whether the structure between the roles should be a managerial relationship or a cross-functional relationship.
There are some fundamental questions that must be answered first?
- What is the level of work in each role described?
- Which manager is accountable for the output (quantity, quality, within timeframe, using allocated resources) of the Marketing Services role? You describe who reports to who. Wrong question. We all report to lots of people. The central question is which manager is accountable?
- Which manager is in the best position to bring value to the difficult problems and difficult decisions made by the Marketing Services role?
- Is the work assigned to the Marketing Services role by the Product Manager full time or part time, and is the duration of that work forever, or in defined projects that start and stop?
The answers to these questions will help determine the appropriate structure. We will take them one at a time over the next few days.