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A Manager's Role During the Game

Each member of a football team has a role to play, whether it’s the starting quarterback, or the back-up tight end. Each person on the team must do their part in order to be successful. The same holds true in business.

The “game” I’m referring to is the one managers play every day. Are we decision-makers or are we advice-givers? It’s a question that doesn’t have one definite answer as different situations dictate the role we play. Each one of us has played this game and understands the dilemma it can present. Hopefully, as managers we can embrace both roles and impact the game.

Let’s first start with the decision-maker role. In this role, your job as a manager is to make a decision based on the facts in front of you. This can be simple decisions such as where to post a job opening or how to support the United Way campaign. However, there are other times when you may be asked by your manager to make a decision on how to change a process or even the decision on whether or not to fire an employee. In all of these scenarios, your role is to make an informed decision based upon the facts, past experiences, and even just relying on your “gut”. Being a decision-maker can require you to put your neck on the line at times. On the flip side, this role can be very rewarding. Think about the amazing feeling you would have if your decision just saved the company a large amount of money.

The other role that managers play is the role of an advice-giver. This role is one where we give our professional opinion on a subject to our manager and ultimately they make the decision. Our opinion may be based on our past experiences, or may require us to do some research and provide our manager with the information we have found. So often, people give their managers advice that they think the manager wants to hear. But managers place far greater value on honest advice, particularly when that advice goes against his/her own thought process. I think the reason most advice givers just tell the manager what he/she wants to hear is because the advice giver wants to be valued by the manager. The trick to being valued is to be able to deliver the counter advice in a professional, non-threatening, constructive delivery.

Most people are great advice-givers because they don’t have to suffer the consequences of the final decision. The advice-giver role, on the surface can seem like the “easy way out”. However, if you dig deeper into being an advice-giver, I think as managers we need to take this role very seriously. For instance, assume you have a situation in which your advice could have a major impact on the company, down to the company’s ability to continue to operate. That’s not advice a person should give lightly.

As you can see, when we get “into the game” our roles as managers can be very challenging. These roles can have major impacts, both positive and negative. Additionally, the “risk versus reward” factor can’t be ignored. As a manager, I challenge you to look at the roles you play and to ensure that you are considering all aspects of that role. Don’t take your role lightly, even in what some would consider small decisions.