First Line Manager: Understanding Vested Interest

Vested interest exists. This means an individual has a special interest in protecting or promoting that which is to their own personal advantage. Or, there are groups that seek to support or control an existing system or activity from which they derive private benefit.

A first line manager’s vested interest are in their functional area goals. A first line manager’s external business environment is also important. Effective first line managers must support a balance between their and others’ vested interest. A first line manager is like a fish in water; the fish contains water and is in water. There is internal business vested interests and external business vested interests. Let us consider these interests.

First consider, a business’s internal interest and the manager’s role in each. There are two types of first line managers; functional line managers and general managers. I was a functional line manager as a restaurant manager, an accounting manager, and a territory sales manager, in these roles, my success was dedicated to that function. I was a general manager of hotels and a Business Office Manager; in these roles, my interest was in accomplishing all the functional goals of the organization.

Functional first line mangers have to make sure their area of responsibility is accomplishing the assigned departmental goals. A functional manager’s is a success if their departmental goals are accomplished. Managers that are removed of not successful. Acceptable managers goals are within the acceptable range. Managers that consistency exceed their goals are considered for higher management. They are top performers. Here is the rub, functional managers must maintain a delicate balance between their department’s interest and other department’s vested interest.

As a District Accounting Manager I approved the credit on sales contracts for appliance sales, a marketing function. If I was too selective marketing did not make quota and the salesperson salary suffered. If I was too lenient, the marketing department made above quota and the salesperson was very happy. In my accounting function was responsible for the payment of the contracts. I reported to a Division Accounting Manager who expected me to collect the money for the appliances. I received my promotions and my bonus on how effective I was in collections not in sales. This is the conundrum of a first line manager; how do you carry out line goals while not alienating other departments.

Now think about this, if a first line manager wants to become a general manager, they must keep the other departments goals in perspective. Other first line managers must know, even though, you have departmental interest; you understand other departments have vested interest. You must be seen as cooperating with them to make every manager and the company successful. This is very important, and an extremely difficult balance.

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