Thursday, 21 June 2012

Embrace the Manager's Equilateral Triangle

Embrace the Manager's Equilateral Triangle

by Phillip J. Boucher

There seems to be a skewed view about what a manager's actual job functions entail. Directing staff, applying company policies and procedures, and keeping the revenue stream incoming are considered to be at the top of the list. However, the responsibilites and obligations of a manager go far beyond this thinking.

A well-rounded and effective manager is one who embraces the concept of the Manager's, or Managerial, Equilateral Triangle. This position model encompasses the three most important parameters of every single managerial position. This new model is controversial and many managers and businesses may find the concept strange or unusual, but when put into practice, is an effective way to manage company, customer, and employee relations.

The Manager's Equilateral Triangle is based on the geometric equilateral triangle in which all three sides, all three points, and all three angles are exactly the same. One side, point, or angle has no more or less importance than the other two. 

On the one side of the triangle is the manager's loyalty and obligation to the company. They are required to manage policy and procedure, implement change, oversee employees and supervisors under their authority, deal with unusual situations, and generally keep their department running smoothly so the revenue stream is constantly increasing.

The other side of the triangle represents the manager's loyalty and obligation to the customer. Everything the manager does and oversees must be in advocacy of the customer, to ensure adequate stock of products, efficient and effective execution of service, and to provide an exceptional experience for the people who gladly part with their money in return for something that satisfies their needs or wants. 

The third side of the equilateral triangle is the manager's loyalty and obligation to the supervisors and employees under their authority. The manager must ensure that staff have proper training and the right tools and materials for them to do their job effectively. There must be a consistent application of communication between all managers, and information must be consistently delivered to staff. The manager must back up their employees in all aspects of management direction, oversight, and employee performance. The manager must be an advocate for the employee as well, as front line staff are the ones who interact with customers and provide the workforce that actually gets customers to part with their money.

Some companies are still having their managers, or are oblivious to the fact that their management staff are, operating with old-style managerial models, the "I'm the boss and you'll do what I say" style. This style of management is as outdated as dinosaurs and just creates an "us/them" atmosphere that is not good for the company, the managers/staff, or the customer.

Whenever one side of the Manager's Equilateral Triangle falls, the other sides fall as well. When this happens, you will get management/staff adversarial attitudes, with staff following policy and procedure to the letter making managing them extremely difficult. Management response is usually to increase the incidents of disciplinary action and documentation which just infuriates the staff and causes them to rebel even more. This spiral of mutual retaliation is extremely detrimental to business.

It is important that managers always back and advocate for their staff and provide staff with what they need to do their jobs. Managers need to keep staff happy and champion staff moral at all times. With many employees having educational and job related experience that sometimes is much better than what the people who manage them have, the "I'm the boss" management model no longer applies.

As a manager, you are simply a team leader, in charge of other members of the team whose common goal is to keep the company profitable and keep customers happy. Any type of adversarial management practice is detrimental to the common goal. Change your attitude, change your management style, and you will see a better work environment, pleased company executives, happier staff, more satisfied customers, and more money coming into the company coffers, which benefits everyone in the work place.

Remember what you tell staff when decisions are made and you are directed to deliver them: "Change is good!" Embrace the Manager's Equilateral Triangle. Changing the way you manage can change things for the better.


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