The most basic dimension of people management is the Supervisor. In the
Supervisor role, you ensure that your staff meets all
basic expectations—for example, that employees start work on time,
fill out the requisite paperwork, and follow all other company policies,
such as dress codes. The Supervisor assigns work that employees can complete
in short periods of time, explains how to complete the work, and keeps a
close eye on employees to ensure that tasks are completed correctly and on
time. The Supervisor helps employees quickly become successful at their
The most appropriate time to invoke the Supervisor role is when you have
new employees or when a
difficult or critical task must be completed. Used in the wrong
situation, the Supervisor can easily be perceived by employees to be a
micromanager. Be careful about adopting the Supervisor role with employees
who are experienced and have proven to be efficient at their jobs.
The Motivational Speaker
Part cheerleader, part confidant, the Motivational Speaker represents the
evolutionary step beyond the Supervisor. The Motivational Speaker builds a
strong team by increasing team morale and
individuals' confidence. These management
attributes are critical when the team encounters stressful situations, such
as tight deadlines.
Great managers have the pulse of their staff's
morale and confidence. You should adopt the Motivational Speaker persona
when you feel that your team's confidence in the organization or an
employee's confidence in his or her abilities is waning. If the Motivational
Speaker role is used too often or at an inappropriate time, a manager can be
seen as being disingenuous or out of touch with the realities that the staff
feels. The key to mastering the Motivational Speaker role is knowing
when to listen, when to give a pep talk, and
when to bestow ad hoc rewards.
As employees' abilities grow and employees take on more responsibilities,
the Mentor guides them to ensure that they'll
be successful in situations that might be unfamiliar. Unlike the Supervisor,
who assigns specific, time-bounded tasks and shows employees precisely how
to complete each task, the Mentor assigns higher-level tasks to employees,
gives them appropriate guidance as how to best complete the task, and allows
them a great deal of autonomy.
Adopting the Mentor role is most appropriate when you have one or more
high-performing employees seeking to advance their careers or take on bigger
tasks—for example, moving from deploying Web servers to deploying a
multitiered farm of Web servers. Be careful about being a Mentor to
employees who need a Supervisor; they might feel ignored by a manager who
mentors too often, or they
might feel that their manager is constantly vague and unengaged.
Beyond the Mentor role, the Advocate is the least hands-on of any of the
people-management archetypes. The Advocate implicitly
trusts employees' ability and judgment. The Advocate gives employees
very little guidance and instead obtains resources,
removes roadblocks, and otherwise promotes his
or her employees' work to create an environment in which
employees can grow and succeed.
Adopt the Advocate role when you have star employees who need to have
roadblocks and other distractions removed to accomplish their goals. The
most difficult part of the Advocate role is to not feel threatened by star
employees, but rather to understand that enabling employees to accomplish
great things is one of the highest achievements a manager can attain.
Mastering the Advocate role lets you succeed in one of the most difficult
aspects of people management: managing the star employee.
Adopting the Advocate role requires you to enable employees to act on your
behalf, so you need to be able to trust their judgment. If you use the
Advocate persona with employees who aren't fully confident in their own
abilities or who lack the skills to meet their goals, they'll feel as if
they aren't part of the team.
The most highly evolved people manager is the Captain. The Captain is the
master of all the other archetypes—an
inspiring leader who has the confidence of
employees even when times are tough and challenges seem insurmountable. The
Captain marshals resources, attracts talent,
and creates road-maps that the staff can rally around. You can
assume the Captain role when staff, other employees, and senior management
have respect and faith in your vision and abilities.
3 Steps to Becoming a Complete Manager
Once you understand the five management archetypes,
you can apply them. Here are three steps to help you apply your knowledge of
the archetypes to your own situation and become a complete people manager.
Self-assessment — Ask yourself which archetype
you actively exhibit. Start by listing your
employees and their objectives and mapping out the management style that
each situation calls for. Then ask yourself how confident you are that in
each situation you're doing the things that will help your employees excel.
Employee assessment — Explain the five
archetypes to each of your employees and ask what he or she would like to
see from you with respect to his or her duties. Compare what employees
expect from you to how you mapped out the management style each situation
calls for, analyze the discrepancies, and then adapt your management style
Skill building — Seek mentors from among the
ranks of effective people managers—the Captains in your organization. Pay
close attention to how those managers use the five people management
archetypes in specific scenarios and what the effects are.
Exercise the Correct Management Style
Although there are certainly some bad people managers, more often than not
managers are perceived as being "bad" because they either aren't exercising
the correct management style in the appropriate
situations or are overdoing a certain style. By becoming a more
complete people manager, you can avoid being tagged as a bad manager and
work toward becoming a Captain yourself.