The manager’s most basic responsibility is to focus people toward performance of work activities to achieve desired outcomes. What’s your interpretation of this statement? Do you agree with it? Why or why not?

This statement is indirectly referring to the fact that encouraging staff members to increase their output is a manager's most important task. This is undoubtedly true, but this encouragement needs to be carried out in certain ways. Attempts at micromanagement or looking over people's shoulders will surely backfire.

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In order to answer this question, it is useful to dissect what the main responsibilities of a manager are and then assess whether the definition fits the role that a manager plays. Managers serve as bridges from senior management to the employees who directly serve customers. They implement goals and strategies that executives pass on to them by offering guidance to groups of employees.

Depending on the demands of specific positions, managers typically are responsible for hiring and training employees, conducting performance evaluations and troubleshooting performance issues, and motivating staff to put their best efforts into their work. They also oversee day-to-day operations, set short- and long-term goals for projects and departments, monitor expenses and budgets in relation to the projects they are overseeing, and report results to senior management.

Effective managers need to have good leadership skills and the ability to communicate well in one-to-one situations, larger groups, email, and social media. They often collaborate with the employees that they work with to be sure that projects are performed effectively and on time.

Now we can get back to the definition in the question. To "focus people towards performance of work duties" would include the hiring and training of personnel, the evaluation of performances, troubleshooting problems in performance, working directly with employees, and motivating them to do better. The goals that managers are responsible for formulating and implementing would be the "desired outcomes."

According to this definition, then, a manager's most basic responsibility is the part of their job that entails working to ensure that employees are effectively performing their tasks. However, it leaves out a vital and indispensable aspect of a manager's role, which is to act as a liaison with senior management. In a sense, the most important responsibility of managers is not just to oversee the work of employees, but it is to act as a link between employees and senior management. It might be worthwhile to consider this aspect of a manager's job when you are deciding whether this definition of a manager is effective and complete.

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I do agree with this statement. Ultimately, a manager, whether it is a general manager, an operations manager, or a human resources manager, is responsible for ensuring that the business succeeds. The primary thing that makes a business succeed or fail is its staff, as these are the people who get the work done.

By focusing on staff and their performance, managers ensure that efficiency and output are maximized. It is important to note that this does not involve draconian measures or micromanagement. In fact, such strategies are likely to demotivate staff and have the opposite of the desired effect.

Focusing people toward the performance of their work successfully has a number of facets. I would argue that the most important way that managers can foster positive work ethics in their staff members is to ensure that they have good interpersonal relationships with members of their teams. If everyone on the team feels invested in the company's success, then they will work harder to achieve their goals. If, on the other hand, employees feel that they are being treated unfairly or unkindly, they will simply stop caring and do the bare minimum. It is therefore evident that keeping staff members content is paramount.

By focusing people, in various ways, toward the performance of work activities, managers can keep businesses on track. The most important factor is the ways in which they do this, because if it is done incorrectly, it can have the opposite outcome.

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The way I interpret this statement, it means that the manager’s main task has to do with the state of mind of the employees.  In other words, the manager’s task is to make sure that the workers have the right attitude and mentality to be able to work effectively and achieve the outcomes that the firm wants. 

As to whether I agree with this statement, it depends a great deal on the sort of job that the workers are supposed to do.  In some jobs, motivation may well be the most important task of the manager.  In others, it may be more important for the manager to do more technical and detailed work.

Let us think about a firm whose workers do low-skilled, repetitive jobs.  An example of this could be a fast food restaurant.  In such a firm, the manager’s job does consist mostly of making sure that workers are doing what they are supposed to do.  The manager really does little more than set the schedule, assign tasks, and supervise to make sure the work is being done properly.  The main task for this manager, then, is to make sure the workers are taking their jobs seriously.

Now let us think about a firm where workers are doing “brain work.”  Here, the manager’s task may well be different.  The manager might have to do more to guide the employees along.  In this case, the manager may be a person who knows the employees’ jobs and can discuss with them the problems that they are having in achieving their goals.  This manager can give technical advice and can help their workers actually do the work more effectively instead of simply making sure that they are focused on their jobs.

Thus, I would argue that this statement is truer in some firms than in others, though motivation is always an important part of a manager’s job.

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