Managing people is the most important job at your company

Which type of manager are you? If you don't spend enough time focusing on your direct reports, I'll make it easy -- you're the one on the left (Image credit:


I don’t know what your job entails. I don’t know what you’re responsible for. I don’t know how many hours a week you work. But I do know one thing…If you manage people, that is the most important part of your job. And I don’t need to know anything else about your job to know that.

A manager makes or breaks a person’s job experience. It’s really that simple. You can work for a company that is really struggling, but have a great manager and the experience will be fruitful. By the same token, you can work for a brand that’s thriving, have an awful manager and you’ll likely be gone within six months to a year.

Seems simple enough, right? But here’s where managers run into problems. Managing isn’t billable work. Or managing isn’t going to be part of my performance review. Whether at a brand or agency, we all have clients we report to. And usually our direct reports don’t make the list. But they should. Here’s why:

1. Your management style directly impacts retention and the bottom line. According to a recent Gallup poll, people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers: “The No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.” Gallup added that poorly-managed work groups are 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups.

Really, that’s kind of all you need to know. You may be spending your time on specific projects to gain the company money. But if you’re sacrificing your management time to do so, you’re probably costing your company more than your bringing in because of productivity and profitability loss. Not to mention that when an employee leaves and a new one comes in, brands have to spend a significant amount retraining.

2. Your management style directly affects company culture. It’s easy to see company culture as bigger than us and something we can’t change. But the easiest way for you to influence culture is in how you manage. A person’s initial perception of company culture is always set by his/her manager. So in a sense, you’re setting the tone for how your direct report(s) 1) Treat colleagues and clients, 2) Approach problem solving, 3) Talk about the company to others in the community.

The next time you go to an industry networking event, listen to how people talk about their companies. I bet you can tell what people have the good managers based on those conversations. Don’t forget — word of mouth is the most trusted form of marketing. If people who have lived and breathed your culture are talking badly about that experience, why would anyone want to come work for you and why would any brand want to work with you?

3. Your management style directly correlates to your reputation. Big time! Take a look around your organization. In most situations, part of getting promoted is how well you manage people. I can almost guarantee you that if you aren’t dedicating enough time to being a manager and word gets around that it’s not your cup of tea…you will hit a ceiling. And you won’t be able to move any further up the chain at that organization.

It’s a numbers game again. You may be doing awesome client service work or always knock your projects out of the park. And there is a place for people like that at any company. We all need some doers. But you better bring in an astronomical amount of money if that’s all you bring to the table. Because you’re going to have peers who are adding value through their management skills by helping others learn and succeed, which in turn makes the whole team stronger. If you like football, think of Terrell Owens. Amazing talent, but rarely made others around him better. He was all about getting his numbers. Maybe that’s why last year not one team in the NFL would take a chance on him. Not one.

Whatever job you do, whatever industry you work in, it doesn’t matter. Managing people well is a skill set every company needs. And most of us won’t reach our career aspirations without developing it.

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LauraC 37 pts

Managing people is a real skill set and, unfortunately, one that most people end up having to learn themselves as it is so seldom taught.

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JGoldsborough 250 pts moderator

LauraC Good point, Laura. Most orgs definitely don't put enough priority on teaching management skills. Couldn't agree more. And it's a cultural thing. If my boss doesn't act like managing is that important, why should I, right?

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Lisa Gerber 1150 pts

You know what? Its the same idea as being a teacher. Turns out my favorite subjects in high school were the same as my favorite teachers. Same idea. Teachers and managers have a ton of power and influence.

JGoldsborough 250 pts moderator

Lisa Gerber Yes, exactly. Managers are teachers. And how they teach determines how a company culture forms, which determines how a company is perceived by customers. All goes back to my theory that employee comms is the most important communications discipline that exists. And the one we give the least amount of time and budget too.