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Business LibreTexts

1.3: Who Are Managers?

  • Page ID
    4755
  • Learning Objectives

    1. Know what is meant by “manager”.
    2. Be able to describe the types of managers.
    3. Understand the nature of managerial work.

    Managers

    We tend to think about managers based on their position in an organization. This tells us a bit about their role and the nature of their responsibilities. The following figure summarizes the historic and contemporary views of organizations with respect to managerial roles (Ghoshal & Barlett, 1999). In contrast to the traditional, hierarchical relationship among layers of management and managers and employees, in the contemporary view, top managers support and serve other managers and employees (through a process called empowerment), just as the organization ultimately exists to serve its customers and clients. Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, take action, and control work and decision making in autonomous ways.

    Figure 1.3

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    Communication is a key managerial role.

    Adrian Gaskell – Women In Management Eleanor McDonald Lecture – CC BY 2.0.

    In both the traditional and contemporary views of management, however, there remains the need for different types of managers. Top managers are responsible for developing the organization’s strategy and being a steward for its vision and mission. A second set of managers includes functional, team, and general managers. Functional managers are responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of an area, such as accounting or marketing. Supervisory or team managers are responsible for coordinating a subgroup of a particular function or a team composed of members from different parts of the organization. Sometimes you will hear distinctions made between line and staff managers.

    A line manager leads a function that contributes directly to the products or services the organization creates. For example, a line manager (often called a product, or service manager) at Procter & Gamble (P&G) is responsible for the production, marketing, and profitability of the Tide detergent product line. A staff manager, in contrast, leads a function that creates indirect inputs. For example, finance and accounting are critical organizational functions but do not typically provide an input into the final product or service a customer buys, such as a box of Tide detergent. Instead, they serve a supporting role. A project manager has the responsibility for the planning, execution, and closing of any project. Project managers are often found in construction, architecture, consulting, computer networking, telecommunications, or software development.

    A general manager is someone who is responsible for managing a clearly identifiable revenue-producing unit, such as a store, business unit, or product line. General managers typically must make decisions across different functions and have rewards tied to the performance of the entire unit (i.e., store, business unit, product line, etc.). General managers take direction from their top executives. They must first understand the executives’ overall plan for the company. Then they set specific goals for their own departments to fit in with the plan. The general manager of production, for example, might have to increase certain product lines and phase out others. General managers must describe their goals clearly to their support staff. The supervisory managers see that the goals are met.

    Figure 1.4 The Changing Roles of Management and Managers

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