Management 101: Deming’s Role of a Manager

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People Group

Have you ever wanted to improve your people management skills? W. Edwards Deming had much to say regarding the role of a manager. His insights denote the practices of a true leader. His principles are known as Deming’s Role of a Manager of People and are listed below. This information is from W. Edwards Deming, The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Engineering Study, 1993), pp. 128-131.


I highly recommend reading Dr. Deming’s The New Economics. It is a fast read and quite prophetic. As he stated in the preface, This book is for people who are living under the tyranny of the prevailing style of management. The huge, long-range losses caused by this style of management have led us into decline.’  In the book Dr. Deming provides a road map & guidelines for transforming industry, government, & education.


Deming’s Role of a Manager

This is the role of a manager of people after transformation


  1. A manager understands and conveys to his people the meaning of a system. He explains the aims of the system. He teaches his people to understand how the work of the group supports these aims.


  1. He helps his people see themselves as components in a system, to work in cooperation with preceding stages and with following stages toward optimization of the efforts of all stages toward achievement of the aim.


  1. A manager of people understands that people are different from each other. He tries to create for everybody interest and challenge, and joy in work. He tries to optimize the family background, education, skills, hopes, and abilities of everyone.  This is not ranking people.  It is, instead, recognition of differences between people, and an attempt to put everybody in position for development.


  1. He is an unceasing learner. He encourages his people to study. He provides, when possible and feasible, seminars and courses for advancement of learning.  He encourages continued education in college or university for people that are so inclined.


  1. He is coach and counsel, not a judge.


  1. He understands a stable system. He understands the interaction between people and the circumstances that they work in. He understands that the performance of anyone that can learn a skill will come to a stable state- upon which further lessons will not bring improvement of performance.  A manager of people knows that in this stable state it is distracting to tell the worker about a mistake.


  1. He has three sources of power:
    1. Authority of office
    2. Knowledge
    3. Personality and persuasive power; tact.
    A successful manager of people develops Nos. 2 and 3; he does not rely on No. 1.  He has nevertheless obligation to use No. 1, as this source of power enables him to change the process- equipment, materials, methods- to bring improvement, such as to reduce variation in output.  He in authority, but lacking knowledge or personality (No. 2 or 3), must depend on his formal power (No. 1).  He unconsciously fills a void in his qualifications by making it clear to everybody that he is in position of authority.  His will be done.


  1. He will study results with the aim to improve his performance as a manager of people.


  1. He will try to discover who if anybody is outside the system, in need of special help. This can be accomplished with simple calculations, if there be individual figures on production or on failures. Special help may be only simple rearrangement of work.  It might be more complicated.  He in need of special help is not in the bottom 5 percent of the distribution of others:  he is clean outside that distribution (See Figure#1).


  1. He creates trust. He creates an environment that encourages freedom and innovation.


  1. He does not expect perfection.


  1. He listens and learns without passing judgement on him that he listens to.


  1. He will hold an informal, unhurried conversation with every one of his people at least once a year, not for judgment, merely to listen. The purpose would be development of understanding of his people, their aims, hopes, and fears. The meeting will be spontaneous, not planned ahead.


  1. He understands the benefits of cooperation and the losses from competition between people and between groups.










About Kevin

Kevin is an engineer, physicist, and author. As a result, his creations span the globe. He has a knack for developing simple smart solutions to difficult problems. He is the creator of the MakeTrix. The MakeTrix fulfills Kevin’s lifelong dream. His dream is to provide free technical solutions to the world.

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