• Derrek Ehrlich

Managers Shouldn't Exist

The arguement for why no company should have "#Manager" in any people-leader position title.

Words Are Important

The words we use are important. They're powerful. They play a major role in every relationship we hold—both personal and professional. I believe we all understand the power of affirmations in our personal lives.

If we wake up every day and tell ourselves that we are fat, ugly, unsuccessful, unhappy, and unloved, that outcome will be manifested. On the flip side, if we wake up every day and tell ourselves that we are beautiful, healthy, successful, happy, and loved, that outcome will be manifested.

And in business, this human law does not disappear.

Control The Horse

I'll circle back in a moment. But first, let's visit the old adage that we "manage processes, not people."

The word "manage" can be traced back to the 16th century where the verb was defined as "to handle, train, or direct a horse." Considering that the word literally referred to the training of an animal, it implies that management pertains to smaller, detailed concerns.

Considering this etymology, I would defend the adage that managing refers to processes and not people. Unless you are working to create an environment of micromanagement and blind faith, we should let people manage their tasks and process, not each other.

What's in a name?

Combining these two concepts, let's take a closer look at how this all applies to our #workplaceculture on a daily basis.

If you're a leader within your organization, what type of environment are you hoping to create for your people? Is it an environment of micromanagement and blind faith, or do you want to nurture and empower your people to be proactive, innovative, loyal contributors to the goals everyone is working to accomplish? If you answered the latter, then why do you let people-leaders call themselves "managers" on a daily basis? Why do "directors" even exist in your organization?

In my personal career, I've been a "marketing manager" before. This makes sense, since I didn't have any direct reports and managed marketing projects and processes. But when people-leaders have words such as "manager" or "director" in their title, they wake up every day with the subtle implication that their responsibility is to be in charge of details, processes, and numbers—not people.

I'm not trying to imply that these leaders don't care about their people, but rather that when you have a beating drum sounding "director, director, director" every single day, how can we expect anyone to prioritize their people over their numbers?

And it's not like performance will be overlooked if top leaders don't try to control these numbers. We already have plenty of people that are solely responsible to the numbers. That's literally the entire job of Individual Contributors.

What to do

So if we aren't supposed to use words like "manager" or "director" what should we use? Frankly, my best recommendation would be to get creative, involve the people that are currently in these positions, and try to think of a title that represents how they should show up on a daily basis.

If you want a couple ideas to jog your mind, consider using words like leader, coach, or even teacher in titles. These subtle changes can drastically change how someone feels about themself and shows up for their people.

With all this said, I want to clarify that I'm not trying to convince anyone that outcomes and numbers don't matter, but rather, for a true leader, they should be a lower priority than the people you lead. If your people see that the numbers matter more than they do, they will mimic this mindset, facilitating a culture of politics and opportunism rather than growth and empowerment.

Regardless, the people closest to the information will always give you the best outcomes (i.e. the individual contributors), so the higher we can elevate them, the better they will perform and the better the long-term outcomes will be.

At OneHive, our Vision is to ignite every person's professional passion. I do genuinely believe that giving ourselves different titles can change how we see ourselves and show up on a daily basis, which will inspire more passion in those we lead. Initially, this might seem trivial or overly sensitive, but give it some thought. If someone called you a "manager" everyday for the next 5 years, how would you feel? Now how would you feel if someone called you a "leader?"

Let me know if you agree or disagree. Why or why not? I'm curious to hear what you have to say!

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