Many years ago, early in my career, I was meeting with a client in Canada where we were discussing the characteristics of a good manager. My friend made the observation that the true hallmark of a good manager is “He does himself out of a job.” This means the manager has groomed his staff into running the department smoothly even when the manager was absent from the office. I accept this premise and have passed it on to others over the years.

“Doing yourself out of a job” is not as easy as it may sound. The staff has to be well trained and organized; everyone should know what their duties and responsibilities are and eager to execute accordingly. In other words, the manager has to train and inspire the staff to be conscientious workers. Further, the manager needs to delegate responsibility and empower people. If one person drops the ball, another should know how to pick it up and run with it without being asked.

Another part of this philosophy is to groom your people for succession whereby the manager realizes he will not be in this particular job forever and in order to maintain continuity, while minimizing disruptions, it is necessary to prepare for his inevitable replacement. After all, the manager may want to go on to bigger and better things himself.

All of this means the manager needs to invest in his workers, to cultivate their talents and gain their trust. This is more than just teaching skills and developing the organizational infrastructure, it is also a matter of possessing good interpersonal relations/communications.

This approach to management is uncommon regardless of the organizational entity, be it corporate or nonprofit in nature. Because of our inclination to practice “Micromanagement,” whereby the manager personally directs the actions of others, such a scenario is unlikely in today’s workplace. Power hungry “control freaks” refuse to let go of the reigns. Consequently, should the manager be promoted, transferred or fired, the organization experiences disruption and upheaval which, of course, is counterproductive.

As to my friend in Canada, he eventually went on to bigger and better things himself. When he finally departed, his old department was prepared for the transition and hummed along without missing a beat. His successor picked up where he left off and made some changes to the department to reflect his style of management. Nonetheless, he was smart enough to maintain his predecessor’s philosophy and that particular management position has changed over many times over the years, all very smoothly. Basically, they all did themselves out of a job.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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