Yes, we can hire others to assist us with these tasks – even ones we don’t like. But that does not relieve the responsibility of the general manager to assure these tasks are done and participate in their completion. As Michael Gerber said in his book, “The E Myth Revisited,” delegation is not abdication. So we are responsible to assure that we – along with everyone else – gets jobs out, gets jobs in and gets paid each and every day we drive the car.
Where does this breakdown? A father hires a son who previously was a salesperson for a large corporation to be a salesperson in the printing company. The son, after doing the job for three weeks, announces that he doesn’t want to do that anymore – he doesn’t like it – rather he would like to be the graphic designer. As you can guess, the son then goes about doing graphic design work and the sales function goes vacant. That’s organizing around people, not functions.
In another case, a spouse chooses the role of salesperson but doesn’t make sales calls. In another, a spouse chooses the role of financial officer but lacks the details of getting the financials prepared. A son is a salesman but doesn’t do the job because their jobs aren’t getting out of the shop. Result, the son stays inside to shepherd his jobs through while others do the same. This is all because the person who is supposed to do production management doesn’t do it.
It is even more common to see the person who is supposed to be driving the car actually playing with their computer in the trunk – or contemplating the navels of other printers online.
One general manager told us they do a lot of quotes because no one else is trained to do them. They check on the status of “their” jobs because there is no production manager doing it. They talk on the telephone with customers a lot because deadlines aren’t met. Of course, we have to do a lot of reading about the state of the industry and participate in trade associations – neither of which is bad unless it is at the expense of the final invoicing not being done for two months during a period where sales are down 25%. He had hired a CSR to help out but she had been there three months and had received no training – and complained that she couldn’t find enough things to do to keep busy.
Much of this is due to the lack of discipline on the part of the general manager and the failure to organize around functions. The job of the general manager is to make and meet all budgets – and to maintain the organizational discipline. Or, in short, to do what is most important not what is most fun and make sure everyone else does it as well.
That means the production manager makes and meets customer commitments, the sales manager creates demand for existing capacity and the finance manager manages cash.
Let’s review. What’s the general manager’s job? To make and meet all budgets, report to stakeholders on the progress of the business, and to maintain organizational discipline and oversight. Additionally, this is a part-time position that must be filled with someone accepting one of the two leadership functions one level down – production or sales management. Next article, I’ll add to this list.