Quick answer: A manager is responsible for overseeing a specific department within a company, ensuring its overall effectiveness. A typical company is made up of production, research and development, purchasing, marketing and sales, human resources as well as accounting and finance departments. A manager is considered a leader within the organization.
This common definition, however, is almost thoroughly unhelpful.
So, let’s explore the longer answer…
What does a Manager do?
A better question might be: “what does a manager do to ensure their department is effective and successful?”
This depends on the organization and their priorities. When bringing on a manager, you should carefully consider how you intend to utilize and make the most of their strengths and personality.
Typical responsibilities for a manager include:
- Managers will complete the department’s administrative work and communicate with other departments as required.
- Managers often act as the liaison between the department they are overseeing and their bosses.
- Managers are responsible for motivating their team.
- Mangers will delegate tasks to the appropriate parties to ensure efficiency and accuracy .
- Managers evaluate relevant data and employee performance to ensure the department is performing as it should.
- A manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure the department or group of employees is functioning and performing as it should. Vague, but true.
- Managers will enforce company policy to ensure the integrity of a company.
- A manager will create short- and long-term goals for the department.
- Many employers will put managers in charge of interviewing, hiring and training new hires for their department.
- A manager will train their team on new technologies and systems.
The Problem with Positional Leadership
Contrary to popular wisdom, a manager’s job isn’t to grandstand over employees, micromanage, or even delegate responsibilities they don’t want to do, even though this is how many unhappy employees, have come to recognize managers.
Of course, as an entrepreneur, this the last thing you want. When you bring on a manager, you want them to take full responsibility for a department and its performance – not act like they are the head honcho.
For a manager to be effective long-term, it’s important that they engage in ongoing leadership training. It’s your responsibility as an entrepreneur to ensure they are equipped with the tools they need to succeed.
Leadership expert John Maxwell says there are five levels of leadership, and few ever exceed the first level, which is Positional leadership.
People only follow positional leaders because they must. Not because they want to.
As a leader levels up, they ascend through four additional levels – Permission, Production, People Development and Pinnacle.
A leader becomes more effective as they rise through the ranks. They become more focused and interested in the people around them and their success, rather than just their own.
Additional Resources on Management
John Maxwell is my primary recommendation.
Seth Godin is another powerful resource and thought leader on the topic.
Quick answer: Most of the world fixates on IQ (or intelligence quotient) in determining how smart an individual is. Noted physicist Albert Einstein was said to have an IQ of 160. Composer J.S. Bach apparently had an IQ of 165. The average person has an IQ of between 90 and 110. IQ tests, however, have a strong bias towards mathematics, spatial reasoning and pattern recognition. These tests, therefore, are dreadfully one-dimensional and lackluster when it comes to measuring a person’s overall intelligence and effectiveness. Emotional intelligence (EQ) helps to peel back some of the layers (though not all). It describes how in touch someone is with their emotions, their ability to express them (when and where it’s appropriate) and is even tied to how well they handle interpersonal relationships.
Now for more…
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
As a business owner, you’re having to make difficult decisions at every turn.
While navigating a variety of opportunities and challenges, if your EQ is low, you’re going to get overwhelmed and find yourself unable to perform at the level you need to be effective.
You’ll make decisions impulsively without weighing or even identifying your options. This can sometimes work out for the better, but it’s fair to say the will-power drained, 2 AM domain buying crowd feels it’s less likely.
Further, as you look to scale your business, you’re likely going to be working with a team made up of a variety of personalities.
On the scale of “too nice” to “obsessive micromanager”, entrepreneurs often find themselves closer to either pole than the middle.
After all, if they are serious, they are the most excited and invested in their business and will do anything in their power to achieve success. No one inside or outside the company will demonstrate that level of passion or dedication without a clear understanding of the vision and impact.
In the early stages of a business (before managers take the helm of specific departments), an entrepreneur must be able to relate to their team members as individuals and be mindful of how to best communicate with each to achieve desired outcomes.
Are There Other Layers to Human Intelligence?
What’s notably absent from most tests is a means of measuring one’s creative ability.
School taught us that there are four core subjects (Language, Mathematics, Science and History). Of course, absent are Art, Music and other subjects that connect more directly to one’s creative ability. These should be core subjects just as much as the pillar four, but if anything, the education system is deprioritizing them.
An argument could certainly be made, however, that it would be challenging if not impossible to measure one’s creative capacity accurately, as art is truly subjective, and one’s experience of a specific painting, song or photograph isn’t always going to translate into another’s experience of it.
Quick answer: Read a book. Listen to a podcast series. Take a course. First, take in relevant and inspiring information. Then, take a break. Take a shower. Go for a walk. Drive. Meditate. As your brain works on integrating and synthesizing the information you’ve been consuming, fresh ideas will begin to form. Rinse and repeat until desired outcomes are reached.
Now for the longer answer.
Step #1: Consume Relevant & Inspiring Information
Here are several sources of valuable information:
- Blog posts
- Mastermind groups
- Coaches and mentors
- Live events
Experiment. Try staying with a concept or topic for an hour or more. Then, try jumping around from topic to topic as you finish articles or podcast episodes.
Keep digging, reading, listening or watching until you begin to feel excited and/or inspired.
Step #2: Take a Break & Step Away for a While
Once you’ve consumed one or more value-adding resources, try:
- Taking a shower
- Going for a walk
- Going for a drive
Fresh ideas should begin to form in your mind. If not, go back to the first step and try again.
Make sure you have a way to capture your ideas, such as with a voice memo app.
Additional Resources on Generating Ideas
I believe James Altucher to be the foremost expert in this space. Check out his article on becoming an idea machine for more information.
If you’re up to something in life, you value your time.
Even when it comes to something as simple as grocery shopping, you know:
- When you’re going to go
- What market you’re going to go to
- What you’re going to buy
You get in and get out and move onto the next thing.
But if you aren’t up to something in life, you aren’t mindful of time.
Even when it comes to something as simple as grocery shopping, you:
- Can’t decide when to go and leave it until the last minute
- Don’t know which market to go to and end up Googling it
- Have no idea what you’re going to buy and end up forgetting things or spending more than intended
By the time you get home, you’re tired and stressed out and have no idea where the time went.
The difference is not in skill or experience.
The difference is in being up to something.
When you have a big enough why, you’re necessarily more efficient.
Quick answer: A personal assistant is someone you hire to help with everyday menial tasks to make your life more efficient and give you space and time to focus on high level work. An assistant’s duties can include doing your laundry, scheduling meetings, taking phone calls, managing social media, organizing and processing email and basically whatever else you give them to work on. Their core function is to ensure all your needs are taken care of and to set you up for success.
Now for the longer answer…
Why Would I Want a Personal Assistant?
As a new entrepreneur, you’re probably handling everything in your business, from product development and sales & marketing to accounting and email.
Although there is value in learning all the ins and outs of a business, most people don’t start businesses just to make another job for themselves.
They want something that runs all on its own.
And, to get to that point, you’re going to need to systemize.
This involves creating frameworks (I’m a creative and I prefer the term frameworks to anything else you can name, whether it’s SOPs, flowcharts, processes, procedures, policies or otherwise) and hiring people to handle these tasks on your behalf.
Having other people work in your business gives you time to work on your business.
Doing so gives you the opportunity to focus on high level activity, whether it’s creating the mission or vision of the company, developing the company culture, focusing on sales & marketing and so forth.
But not all businesses are necessarily big or require a large team to run smoothly.
This is where a personal assistant can prove incredibly valuable.
You can have them handle all the menial tasks you don’t want to do (and, let’s be honest, it’s not the best use of your time), while you engage in revenue-generating activity.
Late author and speaker Dr. Wayne W. Dyer accomplished most of what he did with the help of one assistant.
Strategic advisor, consultant, business coach and editor Dan S. Kennedy says he runs his lucrative copywriting business with the help of just one personal assistant and some freelancers when needed.
How do I Train My Personal Assistant?
The same way you train yourself as an entrepreneur.
When you want to learn something, you likely read articles, buy a book, take a course or watch online videos.
When you come across a great course on a specific topic, you can pass it on to your assistant and have them go through it on their own time.
If the material speaks to your values and the culture you want to create with your business, all the better – your assistant will come to understand you and your needs faster.
When you hire an assistant, they will likely have some skills and experience in different verticals already.
Depending on what you need them to do, you may need to train them on additional skills.
Founder of SuperFastBusiness James Schramko suggests using the “I do, we do, you do” method when training team members.
First, you show your employee how to do the task.
Second, you do the task together.
Finally, you have your assistant perform the task as you watch, just to confirm they know what needs to be done and how to do it.
I believe this method cuts right to the core of what needs to be accomplished in the training process, leaving you free to focus on high level tasks, while your assistant handles the tasks you’ve delegated.
Is There Such Thing as a Super Assistant?
It’s nice to know that some business owners and author-speakers can delegate so much responsibility to a single assistant.
But many online experts argue against the idea of a super assistant (meaning someone who can do it all).
If you hire an overseas assistant who isn’t a native English speaker, then I would certainly expect there to be challenges.
So, I think it depends on where you hire as well as who you hire.
When hiring a personal assistant, I wouldn’t suggest hiring a freelancer through a site like Upwork.
Hire My Mom is a much better source to tap and there are others out there.
In theory, anything you can create a framework for, you can delegate.
Ultimately, because this is a contentious issue, you should be aware of both sides of the argument.
But yes, there is such a thing as a super assistant, especially when you consider what Dyer or Kennedy have been able to accomplish.
Additional Resources on Personal Assistants
I would check out Tim Francis of Profit Factory, as I believe him to the be utmost authority in this field.
He has a super assistant that handles a variety of tasks, from creating systems, hiring and onboarding to editing podcasts and YouTube videos, invoicing and more.