Tag Archives: reporting relationships

You Are Not a Manager So People Can Report To You

“Yes, but shouldn’t these people be reporting to me?” Ted asked.

“That depends. Functionally, their roles produce results you are interested in, but are you prepared to be their Manager?” I replied.

“I think so. I think they can report to me. I think I can hold them accountable for producing those results. I think I can check up on them to make sure they are working,” Ted proposed.

I smiled. “I know, you think being a manager is all about people reporting to you, and you, telling people what to do. But are you prepared to be their Manager?”

Ted gave a glance sideways.

“Your most important role,” I continued, “as a manager, is to bring value to the problem solving and decision making of your team. Are you bringing value by telling them that their reports are due on Friday and then reminding them Monday morning that their reports are late?”

Ted was still staring, but putting the pieces together. “Well, no, not when you put it that way.”

“Then, how, as their Manager, do you bring that value? And are you committed to bring that value? Are you willing to commit the time to bring that value? The answers to these questions will determine whether you should be the manager of this team.”

Looks Good on Paper

I was looking at Sydney’s org chart. I could see a familiar pattern.

“We have been working really hard on this,” Sydney explained. “Every manager knows who reports to them, so there should be no confusion. And every direct report has a manager.”

“I am just looking,” I said, “how many layers, or levels do you have on this chart?”

“That’s what took so much time,” Sydney replied. “We have 112 employees, in twelve layers. Pretty good job, neat and tidy.”

“Well, it all fits on one page,” I observed, “even though it’s a big piece of paper. Where did you get this printed?”

Sydney laughed. “The problem is, it looks good on paper, but not so good in reality.”

“Oh?” I said, with a diagnostic look on my face.

“Yes, like the guys on the shop floor. They all report to a Team Leader, Justin, best equipment operator we have. We told Justin, from now on, if they have a problem, you help them solve it. If they have a question, answer it. And at the end of the day, all the work needs to get done.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

Sydney took a breath. “The guys are now complaining that Justin is breathing down their necks. They say they already know how to do their jobs and that if they have a real problem, Justin is no help, they have to go to the supervisor, anyway. What’s worse, even Justin’s productivity is suffering, eight out of the last ten production days have been short to the work orders.”

“So, what do you think you are going to do?”