The definition of a manager is someone who leads a department, someone who decides what needs to be done to meet a company’s goals. In addition, a manager needs to organize, hires people and delegates work but most importantly a manager motivates.
On a beautiful day, I visited this manager to discuss how a manager inspires and motivates. My interviewee is a person employed by an independent private school. This private independent school receives no state funds. The revenue for the school is funded strictly from tuition and some fundraising but mostly from tuition. The manager (interviewee) started out as a member of the faculty and progressed into the administrative side of the private school. This manager was promoted to lead the business office of the independent private school. Since most private independent schools receive no state funds independent school find themselves struggling on a daily basis to find funds for the operation of the school. The manager agreed to meet for the interview in between meetings. The following narrative is the interview.
As I arrived at the independent school I could not help noticing the beautiful campus. It would seem that first impressions are important especially for schools who vie for sparse students needed to increase enrollment numbers. A beautiful landscape is a great marketing tool it allows the potential students to envision themselves attending the school. In addition, it takes a special manager to convince parents the cost of tuition is justifiable. I met the manager on a beautiful fall day and he states he has been in the current position for ten years. The manager continues to explain after receiving his Master’s Degree in Finance he wanted to do something more. Although he enjoyed being a member of the wonderful and dedicated faculty he felt that he wanted to put his Master’s Degree in Finance to use. Luckily, a job in the business office opened up and applied for the Manager of the Business Office position. The manager could not believe his luck when he accepted this wonderful and prestige position. The manager explains having a Master’s Degree in Finance helped prepare him and felt confident he has done a fantastic job adapting to the current position. The manager also felt by knowing the employees and working with the employees and as a former employee he felt their desire to help him succeed in his new position. He states it was a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing his fellow employees were willing to help him have a successful transition to his current position.
During our interview, a distraught teacher came to see the manager. The manager spoke to the teacher in a calm voice and set up an interview at a later date and time.
The teachers at this private independent school is the core business and therefore invests in the development of the faculty. The manager explained to me he believes in mentoring employees. He believed by mentoring employees the employees acclimate quicker to the culture of the company. In addition to the employees not feeling as if they have been left on their “own” and “feels” welcomed and valued that the manager cares they are successful in their new and exciting position. The manager states he learned a lesson on how not to treat new employees because although he was excited to be the Manager of the Business Office, he felt he was “thrown” into the responsibilities of the Business Office without a lifeline to help him be successful. So, there was a lot of stress bringing the Business Office up to date and in a good working order. In addition, the manager strongly feels mentoring older employees into new departments of the school. The manager feels instead of an employee leaving and taking all of their experience with them he gently offers a new direction and mentoring the employee who wants to leave the school.
The manager explains since he works for a small school the role of the HR Department falls under his jurisdiction as well. When employees do not get along in the work place it is his policy to bring both parties or all parties involved in conflict to his office so everyone involved is clear about what is being said about each party. If possible the manager hopes to solve the conflict in one meeting. After the meeting, the manager documents what happened in the meeting and sends a letter to each party involved and the outcome. The letter is then filed in the affected employee’s files.
The manager also feels very strongly about welcoming questions at meetings and states he welcomes questions after informing his team of his intentions. In this manner, the manager can be assured that what he informed his team of is understood. In addition, since time is of the essence for the manager during the day he rarely takes questions. However, he does let the employees know they are free to email any concerns they might have with his announcements at the meeting. He does inform those employees who send questions to please give him a 24 – 48 hours timeframe to answer their questions.
The manager prefers communicating face-to-face and explains it is important because (1) the manager can put a face to a name, (2) the manager can be assured the communications has been delivered and (3) if the employee is in trouble being called to the manager’s office held some sort of anticipation to the employee to think about and prepare for the meeting.
During our meeting, I asked the manager about his experience in research work. The manager states his research work is extensive. Since it is a small independent school a lot of the work falls under the umbrella of the business office. Examples of the research are understanding how a new payroll system can help process payroll for the school and yet be affordable, what type of health benefits are the right benefits for the employees and can the school afford to offer said benefits. What is the best bank institution offering us services to run the operations of the school, where will the next fundraising site be held and can we afford the site to hold the fundraiser?
The manager explains he has no problem delegating work because it exposes the employee to new items. Since it is on a short-term basis the employee can decide if they want to continue in the work delegated and in addition the manager “weeds” out what employees can be “trusted” with a job outside their comfort zone.
However, the manager explains he is not happy when objectives are not met. He gave an example of an objective that was almost not met. It was the objective meeting payroll for the entire school. When the deadline was not met the manager had to jump in to save the “day”. After payroll was met the manager called into his office the employees responsible and put them on notice. He explained if the situation should occur again the employees would be fired. He explained it was the employee’s responsibility to inform him they were having trouble meeting the deadline and should have reached out for assistance.
The manager was quick to assure me he is a patient person. He also stated although it is his intention to be patient sometimes under the pressure of so much responsibility he finds himself snapping at employees. He does not like it and is quick to apologize for his behavior and sometimes outburst.
My interviewee proceeded to tell me about a student who was in trouble and brought harm to themselves. Since it was a very small school most students knew what was happening. The interviewee stated he instructed everyone what to do in this dire situation. After the dire situation, the manager informed me he gathered the staff to explain what happened, how it was handled and thanked everyone on the staff who worked together to bring the dire situation to a successful close.
The interviewee is a firm believer in overtime and overtime work is mandatory. The interviewee stated overtime is a requirement in this type of job and the person hired has been made aware of the important fact. If a potential candidate for a position in the company does not want to work overtime then the potential candidate does not move to the next part of the hiring process. The interviewee also stated he does not stay to work on the overtime project because he has full faith in his employees to meet their objective. The interviewee believes this type of situation is in fact training and prepares the employees for upper management positions. The manager believes this type of situation “weeds” out the employees who are not dedicated to the company. The manager also believes expressing empathy to the situation but ultimately it is up to the employee to prove their loyalty and dedication to the mission of the company.
Since an audit is required on a yearly basis and the Manager reports to the Head of the School who in turn reports to the Board of Directors there is a very slight chance of unethical behavior happening. The manager also delegates his work and those employees have access to view the work and makes sure all is in order.
My final analysis of the interview is this manager’s style is understanding and not quite autocratic. It is clear from this interview the manager is respected and fair. The amount of work years held at the independent school as well as the current position reflects his commitment to the school. This manager holds his employees to high standards and because he is fair in their eyes they follow his direction for the independent school. The planning, organizing and directing activities for his staff falls under the democratic management style. Although he gives orders he does take the time to hear his employees. I did not get the impression that this manager makes suggestions but instead orders his directions. The employees clearly see the hard work involved in running a small independent school and it seems the employees are willing to lend a “hand” to the success of the school. Under his motivational guidelines, this manager has built a wonderful and caring team guiding the students in their academic careers in a beautiful, clean and quiet setting.