The profile of an effective manager

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The manager

Managers work in an organization. Therefore, before we can identify who managers are, it is important to clarify the term organization. Robbins S.P. (1991) defines an organization as: a systematic arrangement of people to accomplish some specific purpose. We can divide organizational members into two categories[1]: operatives or managers. Managers differ from operatives, by the fact that they direct the activities of others.

There are two big classifications of managers[2]: the horizontal classification only looks at the responsibilities. We can distinguish the functional manager and the general manager. The functional manager is responsible for a whole of similar activities, for example, financial director, commercial director While the general manager is responsible for different functional areas, he is often concentrated on one business activity and acts as a product manager or a division manager. In the vertical classification, we need to differentiate first-line managers, middle managers, and top managers. The difference between these three groups is based on the statute of subordinates.

Furthermore, we should pay attention to the difference between a successful and an effective manager. As Luthans F. (1988) proved, a successful manager is not necessary an effective manager. The former is a manager, who has been promoted relatively quickly, while the latter has satisfied, committed subordinates and high performing units. In general, we could say that an effective manager is one who attains the organizational goals.

Managers job

It was Henry Fayol, in the early part of this century, who was the first to give a global view about the job of manager. He observed that managers performed 5 management functions: they plan, organize, command, coordinate and control. In the mid-1950s, these management functions were reduced to the basic four known as the management process.

Figure 1 shows that the tasks of a manager consists of planning, organizing, leading and controlling.

Figure 1: Management Functions

Source: Management, By: Robbins, S.P., 1991, , Prentice-Hall, Inc, p. 4

The planning component encompasses defining the goals, establishing appropriate strategies, and developing different plans to coordinate the activities. Furthermore, managers are responsible for designing an organizations structure, which clarifies what must be done and by whom. As the job of manager implies directing activities of others, the leading function is very important. It consists of motivating subordinates, resolving conflicts and selecting effective communication channels. Eventually, a manager has a controlling function. He has to ensure that the assumed goals will be achieved. Therefore the manager has to monitor the different activities. Also keep in mind that an effective manager must be able to perform all four activities simultaneously.

Only recently has this classical view of managers been challenged based on the observations of five CEOs. Mintzberg H. (1971) concluded that the managers job consisted of many brief and disjointed episodes with people inside and outside the organization. In addition to these insights, Mintzberg provided a categorization scheme for defining what managers do based on actual managers on the job. Mintzberg shows that managers play different but highly interrelated roles[3].

Formal authority gives rise to the three interpersonal roles (figurehead, leader, and liaison), which in turn gives rise to the three informational roles (monitor, disseminator, spokesman). These two sets of roles enable the manager to play the four decisional roles. We should also mention that the importance of managerial roles varies depending on the managers level in the organization.

Another best known modern view of managerial work is provided by John Kotter which is based on his observatory[4] of 15 successful general managers. Kotter stated that managers spend most of their time interacting with others and concluded that managers spent considerable time in meetings getting and giving information. By obtaining relevant and needed information from his network, the effective manager is able to implement his or her agenda.

: 16/05/2006