What is Management and what should a manager do?

Introduction to Management

Currently, we see an increasing demand for agile management methodologies and more modern strategic management methodologies (such as OKRs, for example).

Therefore, we often believe that people in the corporate world know what management is. The problem is that, in reality, few people know what to answer if asked: "What is management?".

Here we like to define management as the set of administrative activities that aims to define and achieve the objectives, making the most of the knowledge of all participants. For that, it is necessary to be a manager in all spheres: strategic, projects, and people.

And what are these types of management?

To make it easier to read, we will explain what each management mentioned above is, starting at the strategic level, going through project management, operational management and finally reaching people management.


Chapter 1

What is Strategic Management?

How will members of your company know what to do if they have no goals to achieve? To solve this problem, strategic management in companies appears.

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Based on this, strategic management in companies takes place at all hierarchical levels, with the corporate strategy and the strategy of each team. In business strategy, the focus is on defining the Objectives and Key Results that will guide the company towards success. The team strategy, each team defines its Objectives and Key Results in such a way that, upon reaching them, the company comes closer to reaching the defined objectives.

In the case of a multinational, or a very large company, the chances are high that there are several instances of strategic management, which may lead to each hierarchical level having the objectives that will help in the hierarchy just above it.

There is also the possibility to use strategic management at an individual level. To do this, each member must decide what their goals will be and their key results over a period of time. Of course, like strategic planning, individual goals usually serve to help them, when completed, to help the goals of the team they are part of.


Chapter 2

And what is Project Management?

Before answering this, first I will ask you a question: do you know what a project is? If you know, you can skip this next topic, but if you don't, it's interesting to read.

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What is a project?

According to PMBOK (the largest traditional project management guide), “A project is a temporary effort undertaken to create an exclusive product, service or result. The projects and operations differ, mainly, in the fact that the projects are temporary and exclusive, while the operations are continuous and repetitive. ”. And what does that mean?

Let’s understand each part of this sentence:

A project is a temporary effort;
Here we already understand that a project has a beginning, middle, and end, necessarily.
It is undertaken to create an exclusive product, service or result;
In this part, we understand that each project is unique and therefore has an exclusive result.

Knowing what is a project and what is management, we can then define what is project management.

Project management is nothing more than the use of a set of administrative activities that seek to define, achieve the proposed objective, and document this to be used as a benchmark in the future.

In project management, we have two main lines of thought: PMBoK and agile management methodologies, with Scrum as its greatest exponent.

PMBoK

Management via PMBoK is older and more complex and remains great for managing projects with little uncertainty, such as civil engineering projects, for example. The first version of the PMBoK Guide came in 1996 and defines all stages, from planning to delivery, with several quality check-ups and stakeholder management.

In most consultancy companies, this guide is still followed faithfully, bringing results to this day. However, the results come when the companies that receive the consultancy or the project are more predictable, without so many changes and adaptations. In addition to this problem with adaptations, PMBoK also does not serve to manage processes, which are continuous, in comparison with projects that have a start, middle, and end date.

Scrum

Bearing in mind the problems faced in the traditional management of projects and processes and using the Toyota Production System as a basis, several managers saw an opportunity for improvement. What ended up culminating in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

Of these signatories, two are the creators of the Scrum methodology, namely Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwabber.

Initially created to be used in the management of software development projects, Scrum has already been used in the most diverse areas, including military, educational and charitable projects. And even where PMBoK works well, which is civil construction, generating more satisfactory results, keeping deadlines better, and having higher quality upon delivery.


Chapter 3

Based on that, what should a manager do?

As previously defined, the manager's role is to use the most effective administrative tools to define objectives and achieve them.

In our experience, we have seen that the best results come when there is an alignment between the business strategy and the execution of projects and processes within the company. To achieve this alignment, we use three methodologies together, in order to cover all the necessary management in the company, and they are the methodologies: OKR, Milestones, and Scrum.

A complete manager must know all three in-depth and how to use them together. Defining the Objectives and Key Results with the OKR methodology, deliveries that will make the team achieve these objectives with Milestones and managing the projects and processes with the Scrum methodology.


Chapter 4

The Manager's role in strategic planning

Strategic planning takes place at different hierarchical and organizational levels. To get the most out of the OKR methodology, the manager must know how to use two different approaches, the top-down and the bottom-up approach.

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Top-Down OKRs

The Top-Down approach is used mainly in the strategic planning of the company as a whole and that of each team. It consists of defining the Key Objectives and Results of the highest organizational levels first and then defining the levels below.

Thus, when a team’s strategic planning is carried out, for example, one must take into account how the team’s objectives will help to achieve the organization’s objectives. The name Top-Down comes from this practice, from first defining the organization’s goals and then defining how each team will help to achieve them.

Bottom-Up OKRs

Unlike Top-Down OKRs, OKRs made using the Bottom-Up approach take place when, instead of thinking first about general objectives, one thinks about individual objectives. Of course, it is interesting that the members of each team have OKRs linked to those of the team, but this does not necessarily have to happen.

Then, the Bottom-Up Objectives and their Key Results are defined solely by the member of the organization. They can be created based on what the employee sees as a need and there are cases in which employees create personal OKRs to improve coexistence with the rest of the team or even the company as a whole.

Returning to the strategy as a whole

Based on these two approaches, the manager must first guide the executive team to define the goals they want to achieve and how progress towards these goals will be measured. OKRs at the organizational level normally last for one year and may increase according to the company’s maturity level using the methodology.

Therefore, the manager together with the executive team should think about which state they want the company to reach the end of the year cycle while being both realistic and challenging.

There are 3 types of Goals, although for the organization we recommend using only 2 of them. The types of objectives are maintenance, improvement, and delivery. Maintenance-type objectives are aimed at maintaining good rates when they already have them, in order to maintain the quality of deliveries that pleases customers. The improvement objectives, on the other hand, effectively aim to improve the rates that need to be improved. For example, a good objective would be: “To have the best customer service in Brazil”, which could be measured, for example, by the NPS (Net Promoter Score). If the NPS were below a desirable level, it could be an OKR for improvement. But if the NPS was at a level of excellence, it would only be necessary to keep it there.

The other type of goal is delivery, which is used when you want to deliver a feature or product, and it is not recommended for use in organizational strategy, but it can be used for a team, for example.

The manager in the strategic planning of the teams

When planning the Goals and Key Results of the teams, the role of the manager is to guide both the leader of that team and the team as a whole to define their OKRs. Using the same ways of defining organizational ones, but thinking about how the team manages to contribute to the growth of the company.

By doing this, we have already managed to have an alignment between the organizational strategy and the team strategy. Now how should the manager act align the strategic part of the company with its execution?


Chapter 5

The Manager's Role in aligning strategy and execution

Having good strategic planning and good execution will not guarantee good results. A good manager achieves great results by aligning these two aspects of management, and for that, we created the Milestones methodology.

okr

The use of Milestones is simple and brings quick results. Acting as a link between strategy and execution, Milestones work by defining which deliveries will be needed to achieve the defined objectives.

After creating these deliveries, they should be divided into smaller tasks, in order to facilitate understanding by the team and thus, facilitating execution. When using Milestones, team members will know exactly what purpose they are working for and what goal they will impact when performing tasks.

With this purpose in mind, employees will work better and adapt the execution to the delivery that is linked to it, thus increasing the quality of delivery and knowing how they are impacting the organization’s strategic planning.

Therefore, the role of the manager when defining Milestones is to meet with the Product Owner and a member of the executive team to first perform brainstorming and thinking about which deliveries will help in the results. After that, the manager must help them divide Milestone into smaller, more quickly executable tasks.


Chapter 6

The Manager's role during execution

No planning generates results by itself. So, having defined the strategy of the company and the teams, in addition to defining the deliverables that will be necessary to reach the objectives and breaking them down into smaller tasks, the time has come to execute the plan.

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During execution, the Manager must act as a Scrum Master, facilitating the team’s work, increasing the team’s productivity and quality by removing impediments. The Manager’s thinking must be agile thinking, always thinking about people and interactions more than processes and tools first.

This means having the power to adapt to fit the methodologies according to each team. Which requires a good practical knowledge of the methodologies and the team.

Always remembering that, although the documentation is important for the growth of the team. It is even more important to have the product or process in operation. Collaboration with the client should also be given more importance than contract negotiations. Finally, the manager must have a plan, but more important than that is the ability to respond to changes.

Following the principles mentioned in this Paper and in other auxiliary Papers. Anyone has the ability to be a great manager and generate value for your company!