Managers and their Role in the Organization

Managers and their Role in the Organization

Managers are the life of an organization. They are to ensure that the organization performs to the expectation and achieves its purpose and goals. For doing this, managers are to perform certain roles and duties, which include organizing, controlling, directing, coordinating, and leading. Managers may be the entrepreneurs, sometimes they may not be, but however, at all the times they are to balance the available resources of the organization for the achievement of the organizational goals and objectives. For the managers to carry out these duties, they have to possess certain skills which include inter-personal skill, people skill, conceptual skill, and technical skill etc.

A manager is often defined as someone who coordinates and oversees the work of other employees so that the organizational goals can be accomplished. It is not about personal achievement but helping others do their job. Managers may also have additional work duties which are not related to coordinating the work of others.

Manager is a job title which is used in organizations to denote an employee who has certain responsibilities to lead some functions or departments and/or employees. He has a level in the organizational structure which integrates functions and departments for implementation of the management decisions and for the achievement of the organizational goals and objectives. He is a person responsible for planning and directing the work of a group of individual employees, monitoring their work, and taking corrective action when necessary. He is normally assigned a particular level in the organizational chart and usually has diverse responsibilities for the employees and the functions. The job description of a manager varies from organization to organization. Usually the manager is responsible for a department and has direct reporting employees for whom he has leadership responsibility.

Though manager is a job title, still in an organization one cannot identify a manager necessarily by what an employee is called or by his job title. In some organizations, there is a liberal use of the title ‘manager’ in an apparent attempt to enhance the status and morale of the employees. As a result there are a number of employees whose job title include the term manager but who, in reality, are not performing various activities of a manager. On the other hand, there are many employees whose job title does not include the term manager (for example, chief inspector, chief metallurgist, controller of stores and purchase, production controller, and company secretary etc.) but who, in terms of the activities undertake activities of a manager and have the authority and responsibility which they exercise are those of a manager.

The title of manager is used in different organization for employees who have functions to perform which are heterogeneous in nature, bur usually a manager is a person, who fulfills the elemental managerial functions (planning, organizing, motivating and controlling) and is the superior of given human team. He is a person who first of all is responsible for realization of the management process. In particular, manager is the person who makes plans and decisions, organizes, supervises and controls human, finance and information resources. In fact, he is part of the profession whose essence is the management which is the art of reaching goals by properly employing and using the finance, material and human resources in order to achieve goals of the whole organization or its given part. He has the administrative position and has comprehensive knowledge necessary to lead people and manage the organization, in order to achieve optimal realization of his tasks in the confined environment of the organization. He is also the specialist, who is able to find the solution in complicated situations, who is not afraid of taking risks, who can draw the visions of the future, who can formulate the strategy of welcome changes, and who knows how to use the resources for optimal realization of organizational visions.

Manager in view of his position or knowledge is responsible for work contribution, which physically influence organizational achievement capability. Most of the managers are also supervisors, but not all of them, because there are many managers, who in spite of being superiors to other employees do not have in any way impact on organizational achievement capability.

In addition to being able to coordinate work more effectively, managers are better able to (i) communicate performance expectations and feedback to subordinates, (ii) prepare subordinate employees and themselves for transitions to higher organizational levels or different functions, (iii) forecast how different employees would perform if promoted or moved into a new function, (iv) ensure that training and development programs are targeted to fit the needs of employees as they change positions, (v) diagnose and resolve confusion regarding roles, responsibilities, and priorities of the employees, (vi) fulfill the role of sponsors of change, (vii) act as a coach for employees working under them.

Managers can be categorized into many groups depending on the undertaken criterion. The most often referred criterion is the position of manager in the organizational structure. From this point of view, one can distinguish (i) managers at top level who are generally responsible for planning and strategic decisions, (ii) middle level managers who are normally taking the operating decisions, passing them to the front line managers and controlling implementation of these decisions, and (iii) front line managers who are generally supervisors and are responsible for the implementation of the decisions already taken and for the direct control of tasks realization process.

Managers can be divided on the criterion which is based on the managers’ sphere of activity and job description. As per this, managers can be (i) functional managers who are responsible for one kind of activity in the organization (e.g. production, maintenance, marketing, selling or finance), or (ii) overall managers who are controlling complicated economic unit, like branch/regional offices or separate departments and are responsible for complete economic activity of these economic units (i.e. production, marketing, selling and finance). Further based on the criterion of the decision making process, managers can be categorized  as (i) assistant personnel  having their job which includes recording, gathering and storage of information, (ii) specialists who are responsible for transformation and preparation of organization or its division’s activity variants, and (iii) decisions-makers who choose aims and ways of reaching the organizational objectives. Managers can also be divided giving consideration to another criterions such as characteristic features, ways of behaviour, demographic features or preferred managerial style. Based on another criterion which takes into account managers’ approach to committed and administrated resources, managers can be (i) entrepreneurs such as contractors, who establish a business, take risk and lead it as per their requirements, and (ii) intrapreneurs who have proper knowledge to administrate the organization and reveal initiative and inventiveness in their activity, which they make use of to develop somebody else’s organization. Such managers have methods of acting (and also knowledge) which are often similar to the principles of entrepreneurs’ activities but the potential risks and emotional loadings are here considerably lower, because intrapreneurs do not lead the organization at their own risk and account.

Role of managers

The role of the managers is changing with time and is usually in line with the activities of the organization. In the earlier days, the major role of the manager was used to be doing liaising between the management and the organizational employees. However, along with the growth of an average size of the organization, managers got more powerful and theirs managerial style became more autocratic. The contexts of managers’ activity changed and so called “manager’s revolution” took place. Together with it, manager received the right to employ and dismiss employees, specify the quantity and quality of their work, and specify the required quality of products etc. After this, the next change in the managers’ status in the organization was due to the changes in the external and internal environments of the organizational functioning, since of the technological development required employment of the experts. This resulted into the need of managers with specialist knowledge who required more freedom of action which the managers having the autocratic style could not provide. Also the external environment changed with the changes in the labour regulations.  This required managers to pay attention to employees’ needs and their motivation. Nowadays managers need to have more of leadership quality thus moving away from the tight control philosophy. Although the level of knowledge, necessary for effective functioning has lately increased immensely and the methods of its accomplishing are often different, the main role of manager remain the same which is managing in a such way, that the quantity and quality of production is sustained by keeping up good inter-human relationships.

Manager performs different roles in the organization. Very often these roles arise as a result of existence of certain behaviour patterns which are present in the external and internal environments of the organization and are related with the position of the manager in the organizational structure. These managerial roles are distinguished by various typologies. These typologies are (i) task priority, (ii) market behaviour, and (iii) fulfilling the supervisory role. These typologies are shown in Fig 1.


Fig 1 Typologies of managers’ roles

According to task priority typology (organization is survival oriented and not development oriented) the role of manager is (i) conservative role which means that arising out of day-to-day problems manager has conservative attitudes and for survival he avoids any conflicts in the organization with restrain of development aspiration and his own self-realization, and (ii) creative role which is directed towards organizational expansion, its adaptation to changing environment and manager’s self-realization and thus making it possible to provide the policy of the long term dynamic development.

According to the market behaviour typology, the roles of manager is (i) strategic role which is identified more often with the realization of organizational aims and fulfillment of its mission and objectives, and ii) organizing role by which the manager organize accurately for ensuring smooth functioning of the organization according to expectations.

According to the typology of fulfilling the supervisory role, the managers at all levels of hierarchy behave in the same way, carry out similar activities and therefore fulfill similar roles. This group of activities is often known as the ‘organized set of behaviours’. Under the organized set of behaviours, there are ten roles for managers which are divided into three categories namely (i) interpersonal (creating and maintaining of interpersonal relationships), (ii) informational (concerned with the information aspects of managerial work which means receipt and transmission of information), and (iii) decisional (coming to decisions). These ten roles of managers under three categories are described below.

Interpersonal roles include (i) figure head role under which the manager is like the organizational  symbol for external environment, represents the organization in all matters of formality, legally and socially to those inside and outside of the organization and it depends on his position in the organizational structure, (ii) leader role under which the manager works for the achievement of the organizational aims by using specified type of motivation techniques which are oriented towards employees needs and satisfaction, and (iii) liaison role under which the manager interacts with peers and people outside the organization, he enters into agreements, contracts, gets the orders for the organization and hence perform activity essential for the organization.

Informational roles include (i) monitor role under which the manager searches for the information through internal (library, and archives etc.) and external sources (such as internet, journals, public reports etc.) concerned with the organizational activity (problems with production, maintenance, purchasing, selling, and taxes etc.), which are necessary for making decisions, (ii) disseminator role under which the manager transmits and propagate special information into the organization by his work through reports and letters etc., (iii) spokesperson under which the manager disseminates the organizational information into the environment (central government, local government, different offices, media, etc.) and into the organization (e.g. organized labour).

Decisional roles include (i) entrepreneur role under which the manager analyzes possibilities of the development of the organization and implements systematic changes, initiates different programs and scientific research, encourages employees to make contribution and present individual ideas for  developing the organization, (ii) disturbance handler role  under which the manager improves the organizational structures, responds to conflicts, all types of criticism and complaints which appear in the organization, solves them and counteracts new ones, eliminates disturbances and negative events in the organization, (iii) resource allocator role under which the manager chooses where the organization is to expand its efforts and distribute limited resources (finance, technical, human, etc.) in the organization, regulate their usage in work, and prioritizes tasks and procedures,  and (iv) negotiator role under which the manager negotiates on behalf of the organization in as an individual or in a group for external or internal agreements.

Observation of managers in action suggests that actual behaviour of managers is very different than the roles they are supposed to play. Compared with how the managers are supposed to behave, real managers are often not well organized, not systematic nor strategic. Goals are often set in conditions of uncertainty or only arise retrospectively as the direction of the organization become clear. Resources are often allocated on political grounds, problem-solving is more about firefighting, and there is unreasonable thinking and the construction of problems are presumed with their solution. Looking at daily behaviour of managers, the following patterns are usually visible.

  • Managers spend a lot of time with others in face-to-face contact, especially those at their level and external stakeholders (e.g. customers, suppliers, consultants, etc.).
  • Discussions are not just focused on business decisions, but also involve a lot of general ‘ad hoc’ talk (e.g. asides, anecdotes, gossip).
  • During these informal discussions managers ask a lot of questions during which they are probing the underside of issues, piecing together bits of data and assessing the credibility of stories to get a full picture of a developing situation.
  • Managers rarely give orders but spend a lot of efforts trying to influence others obliquely through cajoling, persuading, requesting, suggesting and coaxing.
  • Much of the work seems to require skill in the use of language (rhetoric, imagery, use of symbols), sensitivity to personal differences and political understanding of various actors and the opportunities inherent in situations as they emerge.

In this whirl of disjointed activity it is hard to see any underlying order, certainly not the working out of rational management principles. However, the apparently casual and accidental way in which managers use their time, set priorities and handle a network of problems and relationships is actually an efficient strategy for dealing with ambiguity and complexity. The behaviour of mangers can be called dramatically, ‘the efficiency of apparently inefficient behaviour’.

The nature of manager’s roles in reality is less about systems, practices and procedures, far more about organizational patterns, built up and maintained through constant social interaction. The role is sometimes is very messy which vary with human experience. Nowadays managers are to have the following.

  • Being part of the process – Successful managers are said to be sensitive to the organizational social process. They can ‘tack and trim’ their management style. Sometimes they are more of a boss and sometimes they are less of a boss. This type style also extends to the political arena – knowing when to conciliate and when to confront.
  • Having a political sense – Managers who are effective often seem to be involved in political activity – bargaining, sweet-talking, compromising, persuasion, arm-twisting, being able to influence others and enlist their support, manoeuvre and shape the system to achieve a
  • Practicing the art of imprecision – Successful managers know how to make the organization feel a sense of direction without publicly committing themselves to a precise set of objectives. Instead they set a general compass point as a steer for their overall purpose and strategy.
  • Muddling with a purpose – Managers who achieve results often see the futility of trying to push through with a comprehensive programme. They are willing to compromise to achieve modest progress. They also understand the interconnectedness of problems and the need to remain focused on underlying issues and ultimate goals whatever the localized issues.

Considered together, these observations are very useful in demonstrating that the traditional image of the manager who sits at a clear desk, quietly planning and controlling in an ordered way, is no more than a self-serving myth adopted by managers who want to believe that they are in control but know that they are not. Perhaps managers are more jugglers of human affairs than the brainy controllers of a smoothly functioning machine. Perhaps a more realistic way of seeing managerial reality is as a ‘negotiated order’ in which the manager sits at the centre of a net of interests, ideas, projects, groups and issues, constantly pulling one thread and then another, trying to maintain a precarious sense of balance through diplomacy, judgement and talk. It is through clever juggling, skillful diplomacy and astute coordination of people, budgets, issues and agendas that policy emerges and objectives are achieved.

The manager’s role usually influences the internal or external functioning of the organization. The ten basic roles of the manager can be split into those which to a bigger or smaller extent influence the internal and external environment of the organization. The roles which influence the internal environment are the leader role, monitor role, disseminator role, entrepreneur role, disturbance handler role and resource allocator role. The remaining roles of the managers namely figurehead role, liaison role, spokesperson role and negotiator role influence the external environment. The last two roles spokesperson role and negotiator role also influence the internal environment.

One of the most important manager’s roles is the leader’s role, which influences a lot the internal and indirectly also external environment of the functioning of the organization. Under this role, manager guides his subordinates to achieve the group objectives. Manager as a leader has the ability to influence the group so that the group can gain determined goals. Manager’s ability to lead is based on four pillars which are providing the manager the leader’s efficiency. These pillars are (i) creating the vision of what the organization is to become in future and this vision is to take into consideration the total environment under which the organization is operating, (ii) creating the strategy which takes into consideration significant chances and threats in the environment and strong and weak sights of the organization, (iii) creating the supporting coalition, whom participants are followers of the leader and employees committed to the realization of the vision and the strategy of the organization, and (iv) communicating, convincing and inspiring participants to the realization of the mission and the strategy of the organization. The above four pillars distinguish manager-leader from ordinary manager- administrator.

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