top of page

But what is My Job? The Confusion that Permeates Organisations

The confusion around roles and responsibilities has no limits and it runs through every layer of organisations. There is clarity at the team members' level, however, getting to a supervisory level you find everyone is being confused. Organisations don't have a clear understanding of what these layers are supposed to do so here it is. 

The job of the supervisor is to supervise and manage the performance of the team members. These guys are there to train employees and make sure they are technically adept at carrying out a great job. They mostly focus on competency (skills, knowledge, and behaviour) and daily task completion of every individual. 

The job of the manager is to supervise and manage the performance of the team. These guys are responsible for communicating goals and targets, constantly measuring them and keeping the team on track to achieve those. They build teams through conscious hiring i.e. what type of skills, knowledge or behaviour is missing from the team and recruit accordingly. 

The job of the leader is to supervise and manage the performance of the organisation. Contrary to popular belief, leaders don't have to be close to their people because these guys are responsible for organisational performance. They have to look at the business and prepare strategies, growth plans, financial resources etc. which they communicate to the managers and help them break down into actionable plans. I don't want leaders getting involved with Jennifer arguing with her colleague instead or that engagement surveys are low. Instead, I expect them to focus on the financial aspects of the business performance i.e. conducting business deals, acquisitions, partnerships etc..

Now you might gasp:

"But employee engagement is the business of the leader." No, it is not and I will tell you a secret, no leader has ever cared about it simply, because it is the job of the managers and supervisors. 

Their quality of behaviour, level of knowledge, skills, experience, and behaviour are what determine employees' experiences with the workplace. They are the one that creates employees being engaged or disengaged not the leaders. So if we want to "blame" anyone for this, it must be supervisors and managers. Leaders have more important things to worry about. HR should be working with managers and supervisors in addressing engagement-related matters and let leaders deal with the business. Leaders, however, will outline strategic vision and goals for what employee experience should look like and provide support and resources to make that happen but it is the job of the supervisors and managers to execute it. They have to take care of the people, not the leaders.

Nobody seems to understand these basic principles of hierarchy so, we have built companies where supervisors and managers worry about task completion, leaders worry about the business and nobody is taking care of the people.

Tasks are secondary and tertiary to people management this is what supervisors and managers don’t get. People need their attention and tasks need their technical skills. The reason supervisors and managers spend their time doing tasks is because they were promoted/rewarded for their technical skills, not for their attention to people. It turns out that supervisors and managers are extremely important to every business. Unfortunately, it is not seen like that. 

The reason leaders spend their time on the business and not on their people is because that is the job of the supervisors and the managers. Leaders are actually aligned with their roles. Imagine a CEO who is more concerned about the people than the business's performance. I have seen it, it's a fail. Balance is crucial and layers with distributed responsibilities bring balance but we need to understand it. So when you hire or promote, maybe you should be asking the question; do you like to manage people or organisational performance? Based on the answer you should make the decision. 

PS: When a leader is more focused on the people side of the business is because he/she doesn't know how to do the job. Go and be a supervisor or a manager because leaders do business. 

Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:

14 views0 comments


bottom of page