Functions, Roles, and Skills of a Manager

An individual engaged in management activities is called a manager. Managers supervise, sustain, uphold, and assume responsibility for the work of others in his or her work group, team, department, or the organization, in general. It is therefore, safe to assume that organizational success is dependent on managers who practice optimal utilization of their human and material resources, and who encourage high levels of performance, effectiveness, and efficiency among the individuals under their care.

Managerial Roles and Functions

Organizations typically have three levels of management with their respective managers—top-level managers, middle-level managers, and frontline or lower-level managers.

Top-level Managers

Top-level managers are the general or strategic managers who focus on long-term organizational concerns and emphasize the organization’s stability, development, progress, and overall efficiency and effectiveness. They, too, are concerned with the organization’s inter-relationships with their external environment. Chief executive officers (CEOs), chief operating officers (CODs), presidents, and vice presidents are examples of top-level managers in big corporations; they have authority over all other human resources of their organization. Traditionally, top-level executives set the company’s general direction by designing strategies and by controlling various resources. At present, however, they, too, must act as organizational guides who must elaborate on the wider purpose of their organizational existence, so that their subordinates could identify and be committed to its success.

Middle-level Managers

Middle-level managers are the tactical managers in charge of the organization’s middle levels or departments. They formulate specific objectives and activities based on the strategic or general goals and objectives developed by top-level managers. Their traditional role is to act as go-betweens between higher and lower levels of the organization; they announce and interpret top management priorities to human resources in the middle hierarchical level of the company. It has been observed that the middle-level managers are more aware of the company’s problems compared to managers in the higher level because of their closer contacts with customers, frontline managers, and other subordinates. To be an ideal middle-level manager, one must be creative so that they could provide sound ideas regarding operational skills as well as problem-solving skills that will help keep the organization afloat.

Frontline or Lower-level Managers

Lower-level managers are also known as operational managers and are responsible for supervising the organization’s day-to-day activities; they are the bridges between management and non-management employees. Traditionally, they are controlled and instructed by top- and middle-level managers to follow their orders in support of the organization’s major strategy. Lately, however, their role has been expanded in some large companies, as they are now encouraged to be more creative and intuitive in the exercise of their functions, so that they, too, could contribute to their company’s progress and the development of new projects. Managerial roles are classified into three types: interpersonal, informational, and decision-making. Henry Mintzberg, professor at McGill University, conducted a research on what real managers do. See the table below for the managerial roles Mintzberg came up with.

Managerial Skills

Managerial skills may be classified as conceptual, human, and technical. 

Conceptual Skills. Conceptual skills enable managers to think of possible solutions to complex problems. Through their ability to visualize abstract situations, they develop a holistic view of their organization and its relation to the wider external environment surrounding it. Top-level managers must have these conceptual skills in order to be successful in their work.

Human Skills. Human skills enable managers in all levels to relate well with people. Communicating, leading, inspiring, and motivating them become easy with the help of human skills. Dealing with people, both in the organization’s internal and external environment, is inevitable, so it is necessary for managers to develop these human skills.

Technical Skills. Technical skills are also important for managers for them to perform their tasks with proficiency with the use of their expertise. Lower-level managers find these skills very important because they are the ones who manage the non-management workers who employ varied techniques and tools to be able to yield good quality products and services for their company.