Managerial Roles and Effective Managers

Informational Roles: All managers, to some degree, collect information from outside organizations and institutions. Typically, they obtain it by reading magazines and talking with other people to learn of changes in the public tastes, what competitors may be planning and the like. Mintzberg called this the monitor role. Managers also act as a conduit to transmit information to organizational members. This is the disseminator role. In addition, managers perform a spokesperson role when they represent the organization to outsiders.

Decisional Roles: Finally four roles are identified that revolve around making choices. In the entrepreneur role, managers initiate and oversee new projects that will improve their organizations performance. As disturbance handlers, managers take corrective action in response to unforeseen problems. As resource allocation, managers are responsible for allocating human, physical and monetary resources. Last, managers perform a negotiators role in which they discuss issues and bargain with other units to gain advantages for their own unit.

Management Skills: Still another way of considering what managers do is to look at the skills or competencies they need to achieve their goals. Essential management skills considered are: technical, human and conceptual.

Technical Skills: Technical skills encompass the ability to apply specialized knowledge and expertise. When you think of the skills held by professionals such as civil engineers or oral surgeons, you typically focus on their technical skills. Through extensive formal education they have learned the special knowledge and practices of their field. Of course, professionals don’t have a monopoly on technical skills have to be learned in schools or formal training programs. All jobs require some specialized expertise, and many develop their technical skills on the job.

Human Skills: The ability to work with, understand, and motivate other people, both individually and in groups, defines human skills. Many people are technically proficient but interpersonally incompetent. They might be poor listeners, unable to understand the needs on others, or have difficulty managing conflicts. Because managers get things done through other people, they must have goon human skills to communicate, motivate, and delegate.

Conceptual Skills: Managers must have the mental ability to analyze and diagnose complex situations. These tasks require conceptual skills. Decision making, for instance, requires managers to identify problems, develop alternative solutions to correct those problems, evaluate those alternative solutions, and select the best one. Managers can be technically and interpersonally competent yet still fail because of an inability to rationally process and interpret information.

Effective Versus Successful Managerial Activities:

Fred Luthans and his associates looked at the issue of what managers do from somewhat different perspective. They asked question: Do managers who move up the quickest in an organization do the same activities and with the same emphasis as managers who the best job? You would tend to think that the managers who were most effective in their jobs would also be the ones who were promoted the fastest. But that’s not what appears to happen.

Luthans and his associates studied more than 450 managers. What they found was that these managers all engaged in four managerial activities:
1. Traditional management. Decision making, planning, and controlling
2. Communication. Exchanging routine information and processing paper work.
3. Human resources management. Motivating, disciplining, managing conflict, staffing, and training
4. Networking. Socializing, politicking, and interacting with outsiders

The “average” managers in the study spent 32 percent of his or her time in traditional management activities, 29 percent communicating, 20 percent in human resources management activities, and 19 percent networking. However the amount of time and effort the managers spent on those four activities varied a great deal. Managers who were successful (defined in terms on the speed of promotion within their organization) had a very different emphasis than managers who were effective (defined in terms of the quantity and quality of their performance and satisfaction and commitment of their employees). Among successful managers, networking made the largest relative contribution to success, and human resources management activities made the least relative contribution. Among effective managers communication made the largest relative contribution and networking the least.

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