Each and every one of us has two roles in our professional lives. I like to call them minister of interior and minister of foreign affairs. In the role of being the minister of interior you handle your communication internally, in your team, with your team members. In the role of being the minister of foreign affairs you handle communications with other teams in your company, vendors, customers, and basically anyone else that is not on your team.
The role of a manager with those hats is a role I’d like to look at a bit more. As a starting point, we should look at the hats a bit deeper in the context of a manager.
minister of interior
A manager looking internally at the team they are running can and should look for the shortcoming, the pains and the needs of the team, and try to help address them. It is easier said than done, as not always the team needs is within the hands of the manager. However, the manager must listen to the need. Sometimes, just listening really helps and people that feel heard are much more satisfied than people that feel avoided.
On the other side of fulfilling the role of minister of interior lies the need to identify training opportunities, and skills brushing. Building the skill set and growing your team members is one of the most influential things a manager should do.
Minister of foreign affairs
The out looking hat that deals with the rest of the world can become the key to the success or the failure of a manager. The way a manager treats his external interfaces will be the way the world sees his performance, and by proxy, his team’s. Failing to manage your external interfaces will most likely be harmful to your team. However, it would be even worse for the organization. A failing manager is a threat to the growth and sustainability of the organization as a whole, depending of course on the level the manager is.
External interfaces should be managed in a way that exposes the team to the interface, and preferably, by building a bridge between the team and the external interface. This way a healthy collaboration will be built and both parties will most likely benefit from it.
Focusing on the right hat
Since time is the most precious resource one has, it is crucial to choose which hat to spend your time on. Identifying when your priorities lie is the most basic thing to do before deciding where your focus should be. However, having your focus on one hat doesn’t mean you should drop your attention on the other hat. In order to identify the place your attention is needed you should ask yourself where would your attention will make the highest impact.
You should evaluate from time to time that your priorities are still at the right place. Adjusting the priority is especially important at times of change. Keep adjusting the nob.