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Why Managers Are Important


More and more, we’re seeing a trend that prioritizes a Player/Coach role over a full-time Manager role where the Player/Coach manages people and processes while also maintaining significant client responsibilities.


So, why is the full-time Manager role so undervalued? We think there are several possible reasons for this:

  • The pandemic: companies have downsized. In small(er) organizations, a multi-tasking role can be seen as a necessity and full-time Managers seen as a luxury;

  • Fear: Individual success is often measured in billable time, revenue created or revenue managed. Without other clear metrics for success, management roles can appear as”nice to haves,” increasing overhead;

  • Clients: you don’t want to rock a client relationship by promoting a key person to a non-client facing position;

  • Remaining Relevant: there’s a belief that Player involvement ensures the Coach part of the role is always current and up to speed on clients, and on “how things are done”.

The Manager role exists to oversee and guide the business and its employees in operations, sales, creative, etc. in ways that the owner / president / CEO can’t do by themselves. It ensures there are no “bottlenecks” or other delays due to too few people having the ability (and authority) to make decisions. Perhaps even more importantly, it allows an employee to have a close relationship with someone who’s main job is to help them become more knowledgeable, skilled, and successful.


The challenge with the Player/Coach role is that the priorities of the job change based upon client dictates, rather than the company’s dictates. We’ve witnessed situations where the Player/Coach had the highest utilization, the largest sales numbers and/or the most revenue managed – all while leading a staff and/or department. While this seems like a “win/win” for the company and client, it’s a slow cooker recipe for burnout, staff attrition and operational errors.


From our perspective, in this era of The Great Resignation, Managers have become even more critical to the success of your organization. In fact, we’d argue they’re the most important people in your company as their full time job is to ensure your employees’ positive work experience, and studies tell us the #1 reason people leave jobs is because of their Managers: bad Managers + employees = ex-employees:


The reason so many people are quitting has everything to do with their relationship with their bosses. A 2018 Udemy study found that nearly half of employees surveyed had quit because of a bad Manager, and almost two-thirds believed their Manager lacked proper Managerial training.

“Why Are Workers Really Quitting…” Inc. Oct. 30, 2021 https://bit.ly/WorkersQuitting


It’s clear from this study, and likely from your own early work experience, that a full-time Manager delivers a great deal of value and is a critical element for any successful and growing company.

So, what’s stopping you from embracing this role?


If it’s cost, you have to do the math to show what a Manager position actually means to your budget and to determine what the metrics are for success. If a Manager was charged with improving your margins by a point or 2, does the position pay for itself? If attrition was reduced by x% and your work force was more stable, how would that affect your staff acquisition costs? We’ve found that financial insights lead to smart business decisions and prevents a generalized fear of cost to drive your actions.


If it’s the Player/Coach’s fear of losing “value” since they’d no longer be tied to revenue and billable time, then you need to give them additional ways to demonstrate their value. One way would be by creating an executive leadership team so they can participate in the larger needs of the company and help lead the implementation of strategic initiatives. You could also ensure their performance reviews are based upon other key metrics like employee turnover ratio, client retention/satisfaction, and overall growth of the company.


If it’s the desire for leaders to stay close to clients, you’re thinking is too limited. All key accounts need an agency leader assigned to them, but as an “executive sponsor” – a senior leader who knows the client well, is able to communicate easily on an as needed basis, and is informed of the client’s projects (but not responsible for delivering those projects). This is a great role for any full-time Manager to play. It also enables your more junior staff to take on larger roles – something that’s critical to their job satisfaction and, therefore, their retention.


If it’s the desire to have leaders stay close to the work, the executive sponsor position also supports this. They’ll be available to support the team, help problem-solve issues with the work, and give comfort to clients (if needed), while not losing sight of their primary responsibility: managing staff and implementing strategic initiatives.


Of course, if you’re struggling to simply hang on to your business, then a Player/Coach role may make sense – as you are likely doing it all yourself: selling, managing, and doing projects. But if you’re leading a growing company that’s adding staff and clients, the Manager position is a must-have. In fact, we believe this full-time role will be a key to your success, and you’re going to be far more successful once you make the change – and wondering what took you so long!


Tonic Consulting Group works with live event agencies, marketing agencies, and related companies providing the insights, expertise and direction necessary to create enduring competitive advantage. We work with leaders to build new pathways to growth, create high-performing operations and develop companies people love working for.