29 Management Basics
John Spacey, December 22, 2022
Management is the practice of directing teams and controlling processes and resources. The following are foundational basics of management that may serve as a useful guide.
AuthorityManagers are typically granted authority based on elements such as their level in a hierarchy, job title, job description and their mandate from upper management.
DelegationManagers delegate action items to their team. You can also delegate authority or you can require that decisions requiring authority be approved by you.
ResponsibilityResponsibility is the duty to do work. This can be delegated by a manager.
AccountabilityAccountability is the duty to answer for success and failure. This can't be delegated. When you ask your team to do work on your behalf, you remain accountable.
Team MeetingsManagers typically hold regular team meetings that serve to orchestrate team efforts. This is tracked with a team status report that lists open projects, action items and issues.
Direct ReportsDirect reports are employees that you manage such that you are accountable for their performance and productivity.
Matrix ManagementIn many cases, your direct reports may be assigned to other managers and projects beyond the scope of your authority. This is known as matrix management. In this case, you still manage the employee using feedback from their stakeholders.
Goal SettingThe primary way that you assign work to employees is to agree to a set of performance goals. These are often designed to be SMART meaning that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Performance ManagementPerformance management is the process of evaluating employee's against their performance goals. This is the basis for incentives and promotions. Low performers enter a performance improvement process.
Employee FeedbackEmployees are provided with regular feedback, particularly regarding performance problems whereby a poor performance review should never be a surprise.
Stakeholder ManagementThe job of a manager is to deliver value to the stakeholders of their team. Stakeholders can include upper management, business units, customers, employees, investors, partners and regulators. Stakeholder relationships and communication is a primary management responsibility.
Change ControlChange control is the process of accepting requests for work from stakeholders and prioritizing this work.
Commitment ManagementThe primary way that managers fail is by overcommitting to work or taking on work that is low value or doomed to failure. Commitment management is the process of pushing back against excessive or low priority work while pursuing high value work at a sustainable pace.
Managing ExpectationsManaging expectations is the process of clearly communicating to stakeholders what you will and will not deliver such that your commitments are unambiguously documented and understood.
Expectation SettingExpectation setting is the practice of making work assignments clear including requirements, deadlines and expectations for work quality.
Issue ClearingAs manager, you will help your team to clear issues related to their action items, projects and goals.
Incident ManagementIncident management is the initial process of managing operational problems whereby you seek an urgent fix that may not be permanent.
Problem ManagementProblem management is the process of addressing the root cause of incidents whereby you find a permanent fix.
Internal ControlsInternal controls are systems, processes, procedures, rules and checklists that help to standardize work.
ToilToil is work that is repetitive and low value. Managers typically try to automate or outsource toil to improve team productivity.
ProductivityProductivity is the amount of value produced in an hour, week or month of work. Managers work to measure and improve productivity as this is the basis for all value created by your team.
EfficiencyEfficiency is how much value you get for a unit of a resource. Managers try to use resources efficiently by eliminating waste.
Cost ControlManagers may seek cost reductions. If a team is growing, cost increases are diligently controlled.
Due DiligenceDue diligence is the care that can be reasonably expected in a situation. For example, the duty to carefully interview and investigate candidates before hiring them.
Management AnalysisManagement analysis is the process of developing data, information and knowledge that is relevant to your goals. For example, a gap analysis that identifies shortfalls in a business process.
Business Process ImprovementThe practice of measuring and improving business processes.
Management AccountingManagement accounting, not to be confused with financial accounting, is the process of measuring an organization. For example, measuring the turnaround time of a process.
Team CultureTeam culture are the intangible elements of a team such as habits, politics and employee satisfaction. These are beyond the direct control of management but can be shaped with a process of leadership. For example, setting the expectation that team members treat each other and stakeholders with respect.
Relational CapitalRelational capital is the value of your relationships. Managers build relationships, influence and establish political capital. This is required to fight for your team in a competitive environment.A more extensive and complete management guide can be found here.
Management GuideThis is the complete list of articles we have written about management guide.
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