Director, Manager or Technician? Knowing the Difference, Makes the Difference

If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, you will spend your whole life disappointed with our shiny slippery wet friend.

The same thing happens when we evaluate executives, managers or technicians and get confused about their real main responsibilities. We claim to know what their responsibilities are, but the way we act, suggests we don't really know them at all, causing all sorts of problems.

Indeed, the more these roles tend to overlap, the more confusion exists; resulting in a lack of efficiency,  lost revenue, and a negative impact on P&L.

The difference between the three is so basic, yet so many people either miss it or forget it, so let me share my vision (at least) on what the core responsibilities of each role should be:

a) Directors/Executives

l  Be aware and anticipate future trends likely to impact on the business/company, in order to adapt the organization in a timely manner (“timely manner” meaning neither before nor after, as such mistiming is just another example of failure to correctly anticipate the future).
l Ensure alignment, between functions, companies, partners, headquarters, and other stakeholders in the Market.
l  Create an inspiring Long-Term Vision. Build a powerful story of transcendental purpose.
l Challenge initiatives. Coach key people via meaningful conversations.
l Ensure sustainable growth by consistently exceeding business targets and stakeholder expectations.
l Values and Compliance role model, embodying and promoting the right behaviour across the organization.

b) Managers
l  Foster values, compliance and agreed behaviours, ensuring the right cascading down of the same across the organization.
l  Ensure alignment inside the function and also across closely connected functions.
l  Key link between strategy and operative, through tactics design. Act as the principal transmission chain from top level to bottom levels and vice versa.
l Maximize resources available in order to exceed agreed targets.
l  Coach teams via meaningful conversations.

c) Technicians
l  Make things happen from a technical point of view. Propose the way to put into operation all the actions described in Tactics.
l Execute and track technical activities, always being up-to-date with the latest knowledge in the field.
l  Suggest alternative or new ways of working to optimize any implementation.

Most of the time quality performance is not about doing extraordinary things, but doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. This also applies to the clear definition of roles and expectations.

Ask yourself whether your organization (and especially each relevant person) has a clear definition of who exactly should do what.

Remember that doing the job of an under-performer has a double negative impact: we are doing someone else's job (undermining their chances of personal development) and we are not doing our own job, the one for which we are being paid. This is a huge source of inefficiency across organizations. When this happens (because we are reluctant to see / admit /act against low performance), we tend to think we are helping someone but, in the end, we are not helping anyone, we are only reducing the competitiveness of the organization (which may well have a significant negative impact, mid to long term, on all staff).

My suggestion, therefore, would be to: clearly define roles and responsibilities (without overlapping and grey zones) and stick to them religiously. This way, you will avoid a considerable amount of disappointment and enjoy a whole lot more success.

(special thanks to Andrew Dodd, for English corrections. Thanks, my friend :)

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