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The Role and Attributes of Managers Essay

Discuss the role of the manager in successful organisations and consider the required attributes and qualities for a successful manager.

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It is a well-known fact that the world was and still is full of organisations; they play a significant and continuing role in our lives. It is true that organisations can vary in size, structure, resources, personnel, and purposes, but they do have some things in common. They consist of two or more people who work together toward some common goal. The objective of an organisation is to provide goods and services to its members or to others outside the organisation. In order to achieve that effectively, all organisations have to follow a plan and try to acquire the necessary recourses. It is here where the practice of management takes effect.

Management relates to all the activities of the organisation and is undertaken at all levels. It is by the process of management and the execution of work that the activities of the organisation are carried out. Management cannot easily be defined and it is subject to many interpretations. However it can be said that management is the practice of consciously and continually shaping organisations. Consequently, management should always be considered within an organisational context and environment. It is the process of setting and achieving goals through the execution of five basic management functions that utilize human, financial, and material recourses. According to Henri Fayol, these functions are:

Planning: planning identifies the goals and objectives of the organisation and sets a plan of action for achieving those goals. This plan is the guide by which (1) the organisation obtains and commits the resources required to reach its objectives; (2) the number and types of personnel the organisation needs is identified; (3) the organisational environment in which the work is to be done starts to form and the members of the organisation carry on their activities; (4) progress toward the objectives is monitored and measured so that corrections can be made if necessary.

There are several goals that need to be established, for each of the organisations sub-units. When these are determined, programs are established for the goals in a systematic manner. The length of time and the scope of the planning vary according to the level of management planning. Plans made by top management may cover periods as long as five or ten years. At lower levels of management, plans span over much shorter periods such as one day or even a few hours.

Organising: organising is the process of arranging and allocating work, authority, and resources among the members of the organisation so they can carry out the activities of the organisation and eventually achieve the organisation’s objectives. Managers have the responsibility to create a structure made out of divisions and departments that have different duties depending on the different goals. This process is called organisational design. When the objectives of the organisation change, the structure of the organisation changes too.

Directing: directing involves influencing and motivating the members of the organisation to perform essential tasks so as to achieve its objectives. Directing provides leadership and gives the opportunity for motivation. Each employee should be encouraged to participate in the decision-making process. Communication between the manager and the employees is the key for creating a proper environment for the employees to work in. In this way, managers help their employees to do their best.

Co-ordination: co-ordination is the process of unifying and harmonising all the activities of an organisation so as to ensure its success. It was mentioned before that each department of the organisation has different duties. The departments may be independent from each other, however they need to work together in harmony to succeed; this can be done with the help of the manager.

Control: controlling is all about verifying that the actions of the organisation’s members occur in accordance with the plans, instructions, and the established standards of performance. A manager should attempt to prevent problems, or to try to determine and solve them as soon as possible, if they happen to occur. Through constant control, the manager keeps the organisation working effectively.

As it can be seen, managers are required to be able to plan, organise, direct, co-ordinate and control. By examining these functions carefully a number of specific roles, such as interpersonal roles, informational roles and decisional roles that managers should fill at various times can be identified. Fig.1

Fig.1 The manager’s roles
The figurehead role is one of the most basic, yet simple roles of a manager. The manager is a symbol so he has to represent the organisation in matters of formality; that is he must routinely perform certain ceremonial duties.

He has the leadership role; he has to create the right environment so as to improve employees’ performances, to try and reduce conflict and handle disagreements wisely. He has to act with fairness and impartiality. As he is also responsible for his subordinates’ work he should make sure that hey are effective as well as efficient. He should reward them if they are successful in their work, or on the contrary to not hesitate to dismiss them if he finds their performance unsatisfactory.

Another role of the manager is to act as a liaison between his unit and the organisation or between the organisation and the outside environment.

The performance of the monitor role can help the manager to develop an understanding of the working of the organisation and its environment. The manager should constantly monitor the environment he is in, by seeking and receiving information so as to determine if everything is going according to plan. He can collect his information both directly, by asking questions, and indirectly, through unsolicited information.

Disseminator role; as a disseminator, the manager passes the external and internal information collected to the organisation and to its subordinates. If the manager fails in transmitting the information or transmits them wrongly, this can cause problems to the organisation.

The manager is the one who also holds the spokesperson role. He is the person who represents and speaks for his unit to people outside the unit; these might be his superiors, or even the general public.
The entrepreneurial role is the manager’s function to take advantage of certain opportunities and initiate activities that will improve the existing situation of the organisation.

The manager has the resource allocator role. He is responsible for the correct distribution of the resources amongst the employers. These resources include money, facilities, and equipment. He also decides the programming of work and maintains control by authorising important decisions before they are implemented.

The disturbance handler role; the manager must be prepared for the unexpected; he must be able to handle crises that may develop, such as failure of equipment or even strikes and take immediate action to correct the situation.

Another significant role of a manager is the negotiator role. Negotiating is an activity done with other individuals or other organisations. It may be required for example on contracts with the suppliers.

Managers can practice at different levels in an organisation and with different ranges of organisational activities. However, according to Fayol every manager needs to have three basic kinds of skills in order to carry out successfully all their roles. The importance of these skills depends mainly on the manager’s rank in the organisation. These skills are technical, human and conceptual. Fig.2

Technical skill is the ability to use the procedures, techniques, and knowledge of a specialised field. Technical skill is most important at the lower levels of the organisation.

Human skill is the ability to work with, understand, and motivate other people as individuals or in groups. This involves effective teamwork and the direction and leadership of staff. If the manager succeeds in keeping good human relationships at work then staff will be more efficient and more committed to the objectives of the organisation. Although human skill is important for managers at every level, it is the primary skill needed by middle managers.

Conceptual skill is the ability to coordinate and integrate all of an organisation’s interests and activities. It involves seeing the organisation as a whole and understanding that its parts depend on one another; therefore understand the impact of any action on the other aspects of the organisation. The importance of conceptual skill increases as one rises through the ranks of the management system.

Fig.2 Proportions of management skills needed at different levels of management

Delegation is another essential element and skill of management. It involves behavioural, organisational and economic considerations. Delegation is a matter of judgement and if it involves confidence and trust to the subordinates by the manager. As Laurie J Mullins states, it is the allowance of freedom of action to subordinates within agreed terms of reference, thus giving them the necessary authority and responsibility, and the monitoring of their performance without undue interference or the continual checking of their work. If delegation is done effectively, it offers a number of potential benefits to the organisation and its members.

It is known that the human element plays a major role in the overall success of the organization. Effective resource management and the successful implementation of personnel activities are therefore two essential ingredients for improved organizational performance that can be added to the skills of a manager.

It is generally known that the last decades the world has seen an enormous scientific and technological evolution. The continuous economic and political changes affect the operation of organisations and businesses forcing the managers to continuous alteration of their plans and objectives. Various technological innovations resulted in new machinery, which correspond better to the constantly changing people’s needs. Also new products have been developed and more complex consumer goods are produced. So a manager needs to be able to follow the progress and have good technical knowledge. Moreover, constant development in the means of communication lead to the co-operation with many foreign countries which forces managers to specialise and to be more organised and more effective.

Today’s manager has to bear in mind that we live in an increasingly materialistic society. The way of life is continuously changing especially in the big cities. Nowadays people not only try to cover their needs but also want to satisfy their desires by spending a great amount of money on things that are not really necessary to them. So manager’s objective is to ameliorate its business products or services so as to fulfil the customers’ wish or demand. In order to achieve that he needs to be original, creative and witty.

Further more another factor that the manager needs to take into consideration is the various political changes not only in his country but in the other countries as well. Those changes affect their economy thus they affect consumer’s income. However if the manager tries to keep himself informed, has a good budget and has perspicacity then the organisation is not severely affected by those changes.

Another quality of today’s manager should be continuing sensitivity to events. The manager should communicate with his employees, provide their vision, motivate them and bear in mind that he is the person who keeps the organisation united. He has to have the ability to create but also maintain successful teams.

He is also required to maintain a balance between conflicting goals. All the stakeholders of the organisation have set different goals in order to satisfy their individual interests. It is the job of the manager to ensure that individual interests are subordinated to the general interest.

It can be said that for managers to improve their managerial skills continuous training should take place. It is true that managerial skills are mostly obtained through experience however continuous training can improve them. Through training a manager can improve his productivity, increase his effectiveness and discover new and maybe more effective ways of running the organisation.

Overall it can be concluded that management and consequently managers play an essential role to an organisation. They ensure that the organisation achieves its goals by planning and organising the operations of the organisation; they keep the organisation united by co-ordination and control and they form the informational link between the organisation and the environment. However since organisations are a necessary part of our society, the role of management today extends beyond the organisation. The decisions and actions of management have an impact on individuals, other organisations and the community. Therefore the responsibility of management in our society is decisive not only for the organisation itself but also for the very future of our economic and social system.

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