Superhero wasn’t part of the manager job description: Why front-line managers are failing

Superman can fly. Spiderman can cast webs. But neither can do both. If even fictional superheroes have limited powers, then why does a typical front-line manager job description sound as though only superhumans need apply? The unrealistic job description aims to convey that front-line managers should be able to master a motley array of roles (e.g. coach, resource manager, talent developer, motivator, lead advocate, atmosphere barometer). The effect of such a job description on a manager, though, is not the positive outcome intended. Requiring 20+ competencies makes it hard if not impossible for managers to focus their efforts and to master all areas of their role. Without a keen focus, managers may find themselves flailing and missing their mark. Rent-a-cape? It’s no wonder, then, that the Harvard Business School recently explored the question of whether employees are “renting” their jobs rather than taking ownership of them. HBS professor James Hackett writes that an “owner” of a job is one who “takes responsibility for improving relationships, products, and processes as well as referring new employee candidates or customers.” Whereas a “renter” is one who is only involved with the organization to complete one or more transactions. If front-line managers are not […]