I’m a Manager, I Manage People

Ok, stop.  I mean it.  Stop this moment.

Is a manager supposed to manage people?  NO.

You, dear manager, are supposed to focus on creating an environment that enables people to excel at their job.  I’m not making this up.  Take some time to read the work of Deming and Senge, you’ll see that I’m not off my rocker.  Then again, as a manager, how come you haven’t read their work?  Oh, that’s right, you were probably just promoted into a management position and asked to figure it out on your own.  Don’t worry, that’s what happened to me as well.  There is hope for us.

I’m sorry you’ve been misled and that the prevailing management theory in use is still from the Stone Ages.  I’m sorry, very sorry.  I have a confession.  I was also brought up (or is it brainwashed) to think and act that way as well.  Yes, I do find myself at war with myself at times as the flesh wants to revert back to “old way”.  So no, I am not judging you.  I’m challenging myself as I challenge you.

Trust me, there is a better way.  A way that makes work more enjoyable for everyone.  I’ve experienced it.  I need for others to experience it.  While we’re at it, let’s stop talking about “empowering people” as well.  I think we can do better.  It doesn’t reflect well on us.  It suggests we have power to give others power.  What’s that?  Hubris?  I used to use that word all the time.  I’ve stopped. I think we all need to stop. And since we’re stopping the use of words, why don’t we quickly add “resource” to that list.  But this could all be wishful thinking on my part.  Old habits die hard, don’t they?

But I got sidetracked there, the point of this post is to remind us (managers) of what our focus should be on if we really want to make a difference in our organizations.  Focus on the system.


7 Replies to “I’m a Manager, I Manage People”

  1. I get your point about not using the word “empower”, however, it often seems fitting for the environment(s) I am within. Otherwise, if I am doing what is not expected, or not doing what is expectedI feel that I am bucking the system or even putting my job in jeopardy.


    1. HI @Rose – empower suggests that one person has power to give another power that the individual did not have. maybe that’s the case but I like to think people always have power. conditions may (or may not) allow them to use their power. so I prefer to think in terms of emancipation i.e. removing restrictions that prevented people from operating.


  2. Great point – I like to put it: create an environment where everyone has the freedom to perform and opportunity to contribute. Empowerment is in my mind still useful and needs to be based on a dialogue – what empowerment do you need to do your job. Can we talk about empowerment 2.0 – not given, but required? Br, Morten, http://www.42stc.com


    1. Hi @Morten – Empowerment often carries with the notion one person has the power to give others power. I suppose that may be right. I believe people in leadership positions should use their “power” to remove the obstacles that are preventing individuals in the organization from operating to their fullest potential.


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