In the early part of the twentieth century, French industrialist Henri Fayol wrote that all managers perform five management functions: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. 5 Today, we have condensed these to four: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Because organizations exist to achieve goals, someone has to define those goals and the means for achieving them; management is that someone. The planning function encompasses defining an organization’s goals, establishing an overall strategy for achieving those goals, and developing a comprehensive set of plans to integrate and coordinate activities. Evidence indicates this function increases the most as managers move from lower-level to mid-level management. 6 Managers are also responsible for designing an organization’s structure. We call this function organizing. It includes determining what tasks are to be done, who is to do them, how the tasks are to be grouped, who reports to whom, and where decisions are to be made. Every organization contains people, and it is management’s job to direct and coordinate those people. This is the leading function. When managers motivate employees, direct their activities, select the most effective communication channels, or resolve conflicts among members, they’re engaging in leading. To ensure things are going as they should, management must monitor the organization’s performance and compare it with previously set goals. If there are any significant deviations, it is management’s job to get the organization back on track. This monitoring, comparing, and potential correcting is the controlling function. So, using the functional approach, the answer to the question “What do managers do?” is that they plan, organize, lead, and control.
2. What are different management roles?
Interpersonal Roles All managers are required to perform duties that are ceremonial and symbolic in nature. For instance, when the president of a college hands out diplomas at commencement or a factory supervisor gives a group of high school students a tour of the plant, he or she is acting in a figurehead role. All managers also have a leadership role. This role includes hiring, training, motivating, and disciplining employees. The third role within the interpersonal grouping is the liaison role, or contacting others who provide the manager with information. The sales manager who obtains information from the quality-control manager in his or her own company has an internal liaison relationship. When that sales manager has contacts with other sales executives through a marketing trade association, he or she has an outside liaison relationship.
Informational Roles All managers, to some degree, collect information from outside organizations and institutions, typically by scanning the news media (including the Internet) and talking with other people to learn of changes in the public’s 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 Mintzberg identified four roles that require making choices. In the entrepreneur role, managers initiate and oversee new projects that will improve their organization’s performance. As disturbance handlers, managers take corrective action in response to unforeseen problems. As resource allocators, managers are responsible for allocating human, physical, and monetary resources. Finally, managers perform a negotiator role, in which they discuss issues and bargain with other units to gain advantages for their own unit.
3. Explain briefly the different areas of management skills.
Still another way of considering what managers do is to look at the skills or competencies they need to