The Responsibilities of Management Series, #1: The Four Responsibilities of Management

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 17, Issue No. 10b
February 15, 2019

By Dan Coughlin


If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you own your business, run an organization, or run part of an organization. My guess is you have people who report to you. In this article, I’m going to lay out a framework for managing other people to achieve desired outcomes.

Essentially, I believe there are four primary management responsibilities in any organization. They are:

  • People (attracting, selecting, placing, developing, and retaining the right employees for your organization; bench strength; culture; and teamwork)
  • Deciding and Doing (strategy, planning, and execution)
  • Value Positioning and Enhancement (branding and innovation)
  • On-Going Learning (industry knowledge and beyond industry insights)

That is an enormous amount of content and work described in forty words.

Each of those responsibilities has had dozens, maybe hundreds, and possibly thousands of books written about it.

My objective in this article is to simply lay out a framework for you to think about. In my next several articles, I will do a deeper dive into each of those responsibilities.

A Self-Assessment of Your Management Performance

For now, I want you to step back, think about your organization, and answer the following questions (when I say organization in these questions I mean the part of the organization you are responsible for, which could be the entire organization):

  1. In terms of People (attracting, selecting, placing, developing, and retaining) what are you doing that is effective right now and why is it effective, and what are you doing that is not effective and why is it not effective?
  2. How strong is your bench for each role in your organization and what would make it stronger?
  3. How consistent are behaviors in your organization with your desired culture? What would make it stronger?
  4. How strong is the teamwork in your organization, and what would make it stronger?
  5. In terms of having a clear strategy that defines the business you are in and what you will do to add value to customers and how you will achieve your desired results as an organization, how strong is your strategy and what would make it better?
  6. How clear and appropriate is your plan this year in terms of supporting the strategic direction for your organization?
  7. How well is your plan executed on a macro, organization-wide level and on a micro-individual performance level?
  8. How strong is your brand in the marketplace in terms of customers and prospects asking for your brand over the competition?
  9. How effective is your organization at innovating in terms of creating new or improved products and services that create more value for your customers and generates more profit for your organization?
  10. How well are you and key members of your team learning key industry and non-industry insights to improve your organization’s performance?

Those are just ten thought-starters. I encourage you to write down your answers. In the upcoming articles I will offer questions, processes, and suggestions for you to consider on each of The Four Responsibilities of Management.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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