I’ve been thinking a lot more about the manager and direct report.  I’ve been direct report to about 15 people in my life in all my different roles.  I’ve seen a lot of different styles of management, as have many of you.

It’s important to consider the objective of this relationship prior to analyzing it in depth.  There are many potential scenarios that one could cite as the reason for this relationship existing at all:

1.  Hierarchical management of resources – too many people in an organization makes it impossible for one person to manage all, hence many managers and direct reports
2.  Functional expertise and knowledge – having someone oversee another in order to properly transfer knowledge of the position needs and expectations, this includes leadership transitions over time
3.   Responsibility ownership – managers often are responsible for the output (volume, quality) of someone at an organization

There are other things that could be discussed, but those three things seem to cover off on the organizational considerations that come to mind.  The next questions are focused on the individuals, what does it take to be a “good” manager or a “good” direct report.  Most organizations write job descriptions for the positions themselves.  But how to facilitate those roles in the lens of manager and direct report is worth considering.

A manager’s work is primarily concerned with getting the best out of their team, much like a coach for a sport–at least in context of managing others.   However, managers are also tasked with the functional output of their role.  In effect, they are managing to objectives for the organization *in addition* to managing people that are likely also working toward that objective.  To put an example of this down, a marketing manager may well be accountable for revenue and margin growth within a business, she is given resources (budget, direct reports, etc.) to accomplish the tasks that lead to those outcomes and judged accordingly.

For new managers, if you’re considering how to outline your role, consider the idea of bifurcating your work into two larger buckets:  delivering the business results and delivering team performance.  They are not necessarily the exact same, though they should be correlated in terms of objectives and metrics.

I’ll dive more thoroughly into both of these ideas in the future.