Most of the time, “management” may sound like a magic word that appeals to us but not necessarily belongs to us. A high proportion of professionals may still think that only C-suite and executives are associated with management practices, whereas management literally matters to everyone in the workplace. Climbing the corporate ladder, we shall prepare ourselves for challenges that demand management skills. The RGF Management Series aims to provide you some lens to review the M word more practically: each article of this series is a quick read, but the takeaway you can get from it can be a timely entrance to the management world. Enjoy!
Title: Master Your Roles As A Manager
For current managers and managers-to-be, management is never easy to interpret and carry out on a daily basis. It encompasses so many aspects of knowledge, experience, intelligence and wisdom. At first glance, the definition of management seems quite evident: manager is generally a person who has been appointed to act as a leader and should be in charge of a department or a team of employees within an organization. The relation between manager and company is interdependent: a company should grand the official authority and status to managers within it, and managers should fulfill their respective obligations and responsibilities to guarantee the company’s continuous success, growth and expansion.
Though in a macro view, this relation is usually understood efficiently enough, it is comparatively demanding to further substantiate it with everyday behaviors and practices. Oftentimes, since nobody in business plays by the book, managers can be lost in various roles under different scenarios that they should perform. Yes, there are more than one role that managers should manage by themselves simultaneously, or the title “leader” mentioned above refers to multiple layers of meaning. If being a manager is about authority, a good and authoritative manager must be an impressive master of managerial roles.
Basics of being a manager
Most directly, it is acknowledged that a manager controls a specific section of business, and meanwhile leads and supervises a team of individuals in a company. Indeed, people usually see a manager as a person on top - within his or her “span of control”, which refers to a certain number of employees that report to him or her, the manager is responsible for the team’s objectives and output, as well as every member’s performance and personal achievements at the workplace. In this sense, managers aren’t just giving commands; they align, train, coach and develop teams to realize the shared goals.
At the same time, within the whole corporate institution or hierarchies, the absolute majority of manager are held accountable to their own managers: in front of upper or executive management, they are being managed. Putting it in another way, managers usually work in a bi-directional way and function as the bridge: they represent their executional team members and present quantifiable scoreboard results to higher management, and they translate broader missions and strategic goals into operational roadmaps for their frontline employees.
We can now understand why managers can feel pulled in their daily practices as if they are in a tug of war. Not capable of applying appropriate skills flexibly in front of different audience, a manager would fail his or her team. Thus, it gets increasingly necessary to learn roles of a manager by heart.
Professor Mintzberg’s ten roles of manager
Theoretical structures have been trying to conceptualize, explain and visualize roles of a manager. Among all of them, Professor Henry Mintzberg’s model is definitely one of the most quoted. With adequate qualitative evidence, he raised and published the model firstly in his book “Mintzberg On Management: Inside Our Strange World of Organizations” in 1990; up till now, his model still gives inspirations to management theorists and practitioners.
Before all else, his model confirms that a manager switches role based on the audience and the scenario, and the categorization of different roles has a lot to do with communication. Professor Minzberg identified ten roles of a manager, and the ten can be classified into three broad groups, as in interpersonal role, informational role and decisional role, each of which targets respectively relationships, information efficiency and business activities within a corporate.
As for interpersonal roles, a manager can be a “figurehead”, “leader” or “liaison”: the first one means a manager should act on the title, whether socially, ceremonially and legally; the second means a manager should direct the subordinates and their performance with leadership skills; and the third means a manager should be an ambassador connecting contacts within and outside the company for business growth.
As for informational roles, a manager can be a “monitor”, “disseminator” or “spokesperson”, which focuses on information processing. As a monitor, a manager should seek out information on the team, company and even industry, so that he or she can drive some positive change among team members; as a disseminator, a manager should broadcast useful knowledge and learnings to the subordinates and other colleagues; and as a spokesperson, a manager sometimes needs to stand and speak for the company so that people from the outside world can get to know and appreciate the company.
As for the decisional roles, which are very strategic and tactical, a manager can be an “entrepreneur”, “disturbance handler”, “resource allocator” or “negotiator”: entrepreneur means a manager should come up with novel business ideas and implement them; disturbance handler means a manager should remove and resolve business blockers, to ensure continuous and healthy business growth; resource allocator means a manager should deploy whatever he or she can leverage to achieve business success; and negotiator means a manager should personally take part in conversations within a team, department or company for the good of business that he or she is in charge of.
Despite the brevity of explanations above, you may still get some preliminary ideas about roles that a competent manager should play. Professor Minzberg’s model can serve as an effective frame of reference that guides you to be a better manager. Though one couldn’t fulfill every required role under all the circumstances, identifying and prioritizing what should be your primary roles would accelerate your personal growth.
At RGF Professional Recruitment China, a key job of ours is to help talent to become successful managers and indispensable roles in any company or organization.
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