Efficient managers keep their focus on long-term goals while addressing short-term needs.
There are plenty of bad bosses. Yet we’ve all had at least one manager who has earned our respect.
What is it that “good” managers have in common?
First, let’s take a step back and discuss what a manager does. Typically, managers are responsible for one broad, overarching goal – or as Drucker calls it, the true whole.
The true whole in sum is what a company or department is trying to create. It encompasses the productivity (time, skills and resources) that goes into creating a final product or service, that ideally generates revenue for the business.
The true whole is made up of many different parts: from employee training to financing to setting project deadlines. As the ultimate multitasker, a manager oversees all of these issues.
Ultimately, the manager works to make sure that the company’s final product is more valuable than all its associated costs.
So an effective manager is one who is skilled at balancing short-term goals (like profitability) with longer-term strategic goals (dominating a market).
And that’s precisely what makes managing so challenging. Managers constantly have to make tough choices that require trade-offs.
For example, management might have to cut back on employee training to accelerate a product launch, so the company can meet its quarterly sales goal.
And yet, this move could stunt the company’s innovative potential, thus harming its long-term goal of being the leader in cellphone technology, for example.
From Drucker’s perspective, the long-term survival of the company should always be the first priority. Thus managers should try to deal with urgent demands in a way that also keeps future goals in focus.
One way to do this is to create a mission statement that focuses on the company’s future. Then managers can structure short-term objectives in a way that supports the broader vision.