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My staff is not a middle manager (yet)

18th Oct 2011
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The excellent response on my yesterday's blog post got me thinking about my management skills. The reason for this is because my recent background includes managing middle managers who had their own staff. Overall I had a team of about 50 people. It has been a long time since I had reportees below middle management level.

I think I was managing my staff as a middle manager. By this I mean I expected her to be incredibly independent, confident and not needing so much detailed guidance.

This is the way I will now go forward. I have adapted the job description that I found on the net. It is my expectations of her. I will ask her views on it. Once we come to an agreement I will revise the JD based on our agreement.

From the JD I will set clear performance and developmental objectives. On a quarterly basis to start off with, I will ask her to assess herself in writing against the agreed objectives. We will then have a quarterly performance review meeting to review how we have both done. I hope she will gain the confidence to tell me how I could improve my management skills.

The quarterly reviews will be key to addressing any concerns at an early stage.

What do you think?


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Replies (6)

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By petersaxton
19th Oct 2011 07:43

Don't overcomplicate things

There's two of you.

Can't you both deal with things without needing job descriptions? Why not just give her work to do and monitor her progress?

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By neileg
19th Oct 2011 09:33

Yes and no

As petersaxon says, if you need formal procedures in your situation then something is wrong from the start.


You only ever need a contract when things go wrong. I highly recommend that you draw up a JD and a contract of employment, agree them with your employee and then put them in a drawer hoping that you never need to see them again.

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By Moonbeam
20th Oct 2011 17:12

Remembering my far off days at ICI...

The company was obsessed by procedure, particularly in personnel management. The amount of procedure was stifling and counter productive. The creeps found ways round it and got promoted. The rest of us left to get a life.

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By dbowleracca
20th Oct 2011 23:02

I think FT is spot on
Regardless of the size of the business, or the experience of the team, the creation of a job description is vital.

If someone does not know what they are responsible for how can they be assessed? For example if the staff member is in charge of engagement letters and they aren't done it's their fault. But typically a good employee will take ownership of this particular task an make sure it's done.

Another reason for clearly defined responsibilities is to make sure things get done. Without documenting this sort of thing, there is a danger of everyone thinking someone else will deal with a particular task and therefore nobody does.

I would say that key perfoance indicators should be linked to the main responsibilities an measured quarterly and that will help develop your employee - by focussing on the kpis that are furthest from the target.

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By petersaxton
21st Oct 2011 08:18

I don't think job descriptions are vital

When there is two people in the practice I would suggest it is sensible to set out the system and indicate ideally who should do what. If one person can't do something on a particular day they can tell the other person.

This takes care of your point about everybody thinking the other person should be doing a task. If FirstTab has these problems in a two person firm then he really has problems!

Don't link "key performance indicators" to the main responsibilities and measure quarterly. Simply explain to the employee when she does something wrong and remind her what needs to be done on a daily basis as necessary.


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Image is of a pin up style woman in a red dress with some of her skirt caught in the filing cabinet. She looks surprised.
By Monsoon
24th Oct 2011 12:40

Organic development

I've got 3 members of staff, have no prior managerial experience, and just wing it. We play it by ear. If it works, it works and if it doesn't, we change it. With all my members of staff I've started slowly and basically, and added tasks and roles in as they find their feet, and I learn to delegeate, etc. I think the day-to-day operations and interaction are far more important than what's written in the JD. If it's working, it's great. If it's not, change it. To me, organic development seems to work well. As Peter said: don't over think it.

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