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3 main responsibilities of a manager


How often do you hear from your colleagues, or even say it yourself, I don't know what my manager is doing? Or maybe you're a fresh manager yourself and you also don't know what your main responsibilities are. All answers you're looking for are below.

There are hundreds of books about management. There are a few really good books about management. "The making of a manager" book by Julie Zhuo is one of the good ones. First of all, it's very nicely written: simple, concise, and combines just enough theory with a lot of relevant practical examples. Secondly, it has been written recently and hence takes all the latest work trends and realities into account. Third, the author practised what she preaches in one of the most challenging and dynamic work environments on the planet. Taking all those into account - "The making of a manager" book by Julie Zhuo should be a desk book for all fresh and underperforming managers out there.

The 3 "P"

In her book, Julie gives a simple and ambiguous answer to the forever question - what a manager should do? If you think it's impossible to give a generic answer to this question and the responsibilities of a manager would greatly differ between industries - you definitely need to read this book. The principles of good management apply to any industry or organisation and Julie describes them as the 3 big "P".


The first responsibility of a manager is to provide the answer to the question - why are we doing this? Even if the workers don't explicitly ask this - the sense of a purpose is key to motivating and navigating your people.

In big and small companies alike, there are tons of things people could be doing. Often they could even start working at cross-purposes. This usually happens when there is no strong vision at the top of the company or this vision is poorly communicated by the managers.

A good manager has a vision and a strategy to achieve it. A good manager relentlessly communicates this vision to their team and takes into account their feedback. A good manager makes sure their people know and agree at all times on why they are doing their jobs.


The second responsibility of a manager is taking care of their people. There are several major bits to this: hiring, placing and coaching.


Getting new people on board is probably the most visible and at the same time trickiest responsibility of a manager. The way we hire people is fundamentally broken but we still need to do that and so the main responsibility lies on a manager's shoulders. It all starts with a clear definition of need. But not only functional needs but also cultural and personal fit. A good manager never thinks of their workers as tools or resources. A good manager knows that a new hire can either supercharge their team or make no difference, in the worst case - bring everyone down. That's why a good manager pays special attention to the selection process - striving to learn as much as they could about a potential hire and expose them as much as possible to their future peers and see if there's a good match.


Often this part is overlooked or done without deliberate assessment of all possible consequences. You have a gap to fill and so you put a person into the team or the role that doesn't suit them. A bad placement could be as devastating to productivity as a wrong hire. Someone who is an outstanding performer in one team or role might turn into an average contributor in another. And vice versa. A good manager knows their people. They know them professionally and personally. The placement is done considerably and often reviewed to make sure the best possible environment is enabled for a worker to do their best.


Probably the most neglected responsibility of a manager. It is also a reason very good people leave good companies. Most exceptional professionals out there are driven by constant learning and improvement. They want to get better and they want their managers' help. A good manager recognises this and dedicates a fair share of their time to coaching their people. A good manager knows there are only two reasons someone is underperforming - they either lack motivation (therefore might be placed wrongly) or they lack coaching. Both are prime responsibilities of their manager.


Providing a purpose, hiring and placing the right people are not yet enough for success. People also need to work efficiently together to achieve their ambitious goals. And organising such a work environment is also a responsibility of a manager.

A modern manager is both responsible for the results and the operations of their team. It's up to the manager to make sure their people have all the necessary tools, knowledge and processes needed to excel in their jobs.

The tricky part is that the variables of a productive environment are constantly changing. Some people leave and others are hired. New goals are being defined and new market pressures are applied. New tools and knowhows are being discovered and need to be adopted. All those changes need to be managed. By who? You guessed right - by a manager.

A good manager makes sure their team have all the necessary elements to do their best work. A good manager proactively removes blockers in the team's way and relies on feedback to improve the current processes. Finally, a good manager combines all activities above to turn a group of individuals who happen to be working together into a high-performing, fun-having team that continuously archives success for themselves and their company.

Being a manager is hard

If you do what managers should do. The number of bad managers is huge precisely because being a good manager is hard. Luckily, it's never late to start improving as a manager.
  • Step 1 - admit to yourself and your team where you are and what responsibilities you've neglected
  • Step 2 - remind yourself about the responsibilities you should be doing and start doing them
  • Step 3 - choose one responsibility and start improving it - don't try to fix everything at once
  • Step 4 - get and use regular feedback from your subordinates and superiors alike to improve
  • Step 5 - assess your progress frequently and keep improving despite the unavoidable setbacks you'll experience

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