Managers use conceptual human and technical skills to perform the four management functions of planning, organizing leading and controlling in all organizations – large and small, manufacturing and service, profit and nonprofit, traditional and Internet based. But not all managers’ jobs are the same. Managers are responsible for different departments, work at different levels in the hierarchy and meet different requirements for achieving high performance. Kevin Kurtz is a middle manger at Lucasfilm, where he works with employees to develop marketing campaigns for some of the entertainment company’s hottest films. Domenic Antonellis is CEO of the New England Confectionary Co (Necco) the company that makes those tiny pastel candy hearts stamped with phrases such as Be Mine and Kiss me. Both are managers and both must contribute to planning, organizing, leading and controlling their organizations but in different amounts and ways.
Top Managers: A manager who is at the top of the organizational hierarchy and is responsible for the entire organization.
An important determinant of the manager’s job is hierarchical level. Three levels in the hierarchy are illustrated. Top managers are at the top of hierarchy and are responsible for the entire organization. They have such titles as president, chairperson, executive director, chief executive officer (CEO), and executive vice president. Top managers are responsible for setting organizational goals defining strategies for achieving them, monitoring and interpreting the external environments and making decisions that effect the entire organization. They look to the long term future and concern themselves with general environmental trends and the organizations over all success. Among the most important responsibilities for top managers are communicating a shared vision for the organization shaping corporate culture, and nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit that can help the company keep pace with rapid change. Today more than ever before top managers must engage the unique knowledge skills, and capabilities of each employee.
Middle managers: A manager who works at the middle levels of the organization and is responsible for major departments.
Middle managers work at middle levels of the organization and are responsible for business units and major departments. Examples of middle managers are department head, division head, manager of quality control, and director of the research lab. Middle managers typically have two or more management levels beneath them. They are responsible for implementing the overall strategies and policies defined by top managers. Middle managers generally are concerned with the near future and are expected to establish good relationships with peers around the organization encourage teamwork and resolve conflicts.
The middle manager’s job has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Many organizations have improved efficiency by laying off middle mangers and slashing middle management levels. Traditional pyramidal organization charts were flattened to allow information to flow quickly from top to bottom and decisions to be made with greater speed. In addition, today line and staff positions are shrinking as well, as companies implement new technologies and procedures that enable them to do more work with fewer employees.
Although middle management levels have been reduced, the middle manager’s job in many organizations has become much more important. Recent research shows that middle managers play a critical role in facilitating change and enabling organizations to respond to rapid shifts in the environment. Rather than managing the flow of information up and down the hierarchy they create through horizontal networks help the company to act quickly. People who succeed as middle managers in today’s world are those who are constructively critical of the status quo, have a high degree of personal power based on good relationships throughout the organization are versatile and adaptable and posses a high degree of emotional intelligence.