Good Management is Opportunity Focused

Good Management is Opportunity Focused. Managers should not solve problems all day

Written by Ian Richardson

November 20, 2023

Good Management is opportunity focused: Managers shouldn’t solve problems all day

By Ian Richardson, Principal Consultant, Fox & Crow Group

Good Management is opportunity focused

Peter Drucker wrote that the sign of “effective” management is when managers spend their time focused on opportunities. Those opportunities generally are for improvement in their area of focus. This opportunity hunt replaces spending time dealing with exceptions and fighting fires.

The essence of the statement is that good management is opportunity focused.

What does that mean, exactly? Opportunity is one of those words that people have different definitions around. The definition I’ve found that serves me best is that opportunity is:

“the chance for an organization to recognize more profit, through either reduced expenses, gained efficiency, or increased revenues.”

Management shouldn’t solve problems all day

I see little comical illustrations of “managers versus leaders” on social media. Spoiler: the leaders are heroes while the managers appear to be villains 10 times out of 10.

I’ve got a big problem with this description of management. A manager should encourage, coach, and yes, hold their team accountable. They should focus on metrics in their areas of responsibility.

None of those are “bad” things. Managers shouldn’t solve problems all day: they’re not nursemaids. Employees should have the processes, tools, and knowledge to do their job. Only the rare exception should need to bubble up to the manager’s desk for direct involvement.

Instead, the Manager should be analyzing said team and team data to hunt for opportunity. Funny enough, in a typical organization, that is sale’s focus. And only sales – they’re the onle people “preaching opportunity.”

A new contract is as valuable to an organization as a gained efficiency on existing ones. Sometimes less valuable when you look deeper. An example.

A gain of $100K of new revenue is actually less profitable than a savings of $100K. If you base profit on expense reduction and operational excellence it becomes clear.

With the savings, you have found a way to make more money while performing the SAME amount of work. New contracts involve having to take on more workload. A second benefit to the efficiency? When you land that $100K account, you’ll make more profit on it — the benefits compound over time.

The manager has gotten a “bad reputation” in today’s culture. A reputation that is incorrect.  Managers should be one of the organizations celebrated resources. They should be alongside their high performing teams.

Instead we find them vilified as slave drivers in comics we laugh at online.

Stop fighting urgent problems in your business

Managers tend to fall into the trap of focusing on the urgent versus the important.

What is urgent in a business is rarely “important.” Even those issues that impact a major customer rarely are “important” to the business. Outside of some feather smoothing activities, it’s not “mission critical”.

That which is important, items like:

  • Process development and improvement
  • Talent development programs
  • Coaching and counseling of team members
  • Opportunity hunting

All of these tend to get pushed to the sidelines for the “issue of the day.”

Managers can be far more effective if given a decision-making framework.  They can use this framework to empower their direct reports. Those direct reports can use the framework to make strategic, good-sense decisions. The manage can avoid constant interruption and focus on opportunity. All parties win.

I have a strategic decision making framework you can request a copy of here

You can see me present the topic on the Solutions Granted webinar here.

If you want to have a further discussion, I’m happy to do so. My calendar is available 24/7 here – Let’s start the conversation.

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