Warning: this article contains thumbnail sketches, caricatures, tongue-in-cheek jokes and acrobatic moves likely to offend the sensibilities of certain audiences. You have been warned!
The role of manager
Have you noticed it too? They’ve been saying it for years, and it’s even become something of a cliché in business literature: more than ever, managers are right at the centre of the storm, and their symbolic role in our contemporary economic context says a lot about just what goes on behind the scenes. Here’s our quick tour of the modern manager’s circus acts…
- Tightrope walker: keeping everything on track in an increasingly fragmented business environment which favours international expansion one quarter and swears by local the next; knocked from pillar to post by ever-more complex consumption habits with strongly marked but sometimes opposing trends. To sum up, managers walk a taut line between hard discount to maintain growth, and fair trade to prepare for the future and hopefully save the planet…
- Contortionist: project-driven organisation, inside a matrix org chart, with agile methods, lean management: models come and go, complement each other, overlap with each new round of reorganisation. As cornerstones of the work structure, managers are often required to do a crazy straddle between yesterday’s change-resistant processes, those of tomorrow with high expectations of innovation, and those that have to be complied with today in order to do the right thing…
- Clown: let’s not be afraid to say it. Practical jokes and tricks in their pockets at all times to amuse the crowds are a minimum requirement to remobilise the troops in these chaotic environments, chin up alongside colleagues who are jumping through flaming hoops… inevitably followed by a sad Pierrot mask on certain “without” days when the reality of topsy-turvy organisations gets them down and conflicting orders are just too much to take.
- Juggler: emptying inboxes, working through emails, snatching breaks where they can, running from one conference call to the next, tapping on Twitter, liking on LinkedIn and trying at least from time to time to share an interesting article, and at best to write a brilliant success story while their smartphone screen comes down with chickenpox and a plethora of red notification spots…
- Tamer of wild beasts: let’s face it, all of these roles are often shared with other players in the organisation; you don’t need a manager label to experience them. However, the big difference that ramps up the intensity of these circus acts is that you have to look good, explain, justify, be a supporter of the organisation, and a communication channel for strategy. And all this in relation to teams that are fluid and constantly changing, engaged or disillusioned, and tamed or wild!
- Human relations magician: as the role of managers is first and foremost leadership and assisting the development of their teams. Regardless of the acrobatics involved, they have to keep their finger on the pulse: refocus teams without demotivating them, be present without being oppressive, encourage without mothering, champion independence without disappearing, and join in work socials without slipping up.
- and and and, of course and last but not least, their role as Mr or Ms Loyal: an expert in their subject, knowing the job like the back of their hand, and offering insightful analysis of current trends.
So you can imagine that when it comes to taking time for training, managers have a quiet chuckle in their caravans. AND YET are they not THE very people the organisation needs to be on top of the expertise required by their profession, aware of management trends, and clear on legal rules?
Rethinking the manager training offer
At Teach on Mars, we don’t believe in conjurers pulling rabbits out of hats: we are committed to helping each employee and every manager to be more efficient in their work and to find fulfilment both in their daily professional duties and in their more personal aspirations. And this is how:
- Instantly and easily access targeted content that’s short and snappy and perfectly matches my role and my everyday operational concerns.
- Learn more about the subjects that inspire me, broaden my thinking, get engrossed in reading a stimulating feature article which nourishes me intellectually and makes me calmer by taking a break from the whirlwind of the big top (content curation, Learning Station offer)
- Rediscover my professional communities: other managers in my company, other experts in my profession, share best practices with them, use cases, technology watch, etc. Seek feedback, problem-solving options and advice from them.
- Monitor training of my teams, have concrete factual elements at my disposal to encourage the development of every employee, and coordinate upskilling. Setting a managerial example when it comes to training means having the ability to free up time to learn, but also devoting the time to identifying and analysing the impact training has on one’s teams.
The Teach on Mars application has been developed in line with this continuous improvement ethos, allowing adaptation to the pace and needs of everyone, not in order to change the surrounding circus but to help each manager juggle between their different acts on a daily basis, and, why not, take pleasure in them?
Manager: get your head out of that lion’s mouth, and aim for the stars!
And ladies and gentlemen, as the applause rings out, we wish you a wonderful day!
Tiphaine joined the crew of Teach on Mars after 13 years in multi-modal training strategy consulting. She was trainer, educational engineer, head of an e-learning center, consultant and support for major projects, director of a digital division … she now shares with pleasure and expertise, her rich experience of digital learning.