Understanding the Role and Core Responsibilities of a Manager

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The role of manager remains an important and evolving position in today's organizations. This article offers a working definition of the term, manager, along with a description of core responsibilities of the various levels and types of managerial roles. 

Definition of Management and Manager:

The work of management is most often categorized as: 

  • Planning: determining how to allocate a firm's financial and human resources to grow revenues and profits. This area is most often associated with strategy and budgeting.
  • Leading: providing guidance for direction and serving as a source of inspiration and motivation for the members of a team or organization. 
  • Organizing: determining how groups should be structured and jobs designed to ensure the optimal functioning of a team, function or business.  
  • Controlling: determining how to measure and monitor all aspects of a function or business to ensure efficient and profitable operation. 

The manager is the individual responsible for some or all of the tasks in those categories, depending upon his/her level of responsibility in the organization. Managers are accountable for guiding and supporting a team responsible for some aspect of an organization's operations. 

12 Core Responsibilities of Managers: 

The broad categories described above break down into a series of activities common to almost all managers. These include:

  1. Providing direction to team members on efficient, timely completion of their function's responsibilities. A customer support manager oversees and supports the team members responsible for providing telephone or online support to customers. An engineering manager works to ensure that team members are working on the top priority projects. An accounting manager oversees the teams responsible for recording and reporting on all of a firm's financial activities. 
  1. Coaching team members, including providing constructive and positive feedback to support on-going improvement and personal development and career growth. 
  2. Defining the roles and responsibilities needed to successfully fulfill the team's mission to the organization. 
  3. Recruiting and hiring (or recommending hires) for new team members. 
  1. Supporting the development of new hires through training and coaching. 
  2. Reporting on the work of the team or function, including offering required scorecard data or key metrics to be reviewed by senior management.
  3. Providing support for navigating daily challenges or emergency issues. 
  4. Helping team members make decisions in the best interests of the company.
  5. Striving to create and promote a healthy, effective working environment where people feel respect, trusted, and motivated to do their best work. 
  6. Collaborating with peer managers to solve problems that cross departmental or functional boundaries. 
  7. Participating with senior management in the definition of the firm's strategic goals and then communicating these goals to their team members. 
  8. Planning for upcoming periods and working to translate these plans into goals, objectives and responsibilities of team members. 

It is important to note that the mix of these responsibilities tends to vary by level of manager. Top level managers spend a great deal of time planning and engaged in leadership behaviors, while front-line or first-level and middle managers are more involved in supporting employees for daily work activities. 

Levels of Managers:

While there are many and varied titles for managers, the levels are easily identifiable.

 

Front line or First line managers are working daily with the employees responsible for the bulk of the organization's operations. They are supervising the individuals doing the work of serving customers, manufacturing or delivering the firm's offerings and doing everything else that a firm does to serve customers and run its business.

Mid-level Managers or Middle Managers often have front line managers and supervisors reporting to them. They provide direction and offer support for these managers and have less daily involvement with operational issues. These middle managers serve as an interface between the employees and senior management as well as other functions.

Senior Managers are accountable for larger categories of a firm's business or functions. They often have significant budgetary accountability and the authority to hire and fire on their teams.

These managers work most often with top executives and other senior managers to support and ensure the proper implementation of a firm's strategies and goals into operations. 

General Managers are often the highest ranking manager for a division of a business or for a site location. General Managers have profit and loss responsibility and are accountable for the unit's results and strategic success. General Managers work closely with a firm's corporate executives to ensure that the unit is delivering on commitments and supporting the larger goals of the firm.

Executives (including the General Manager) are accountable for the development and implementation of a firm's overarching strategy. They often report to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the CEO in turn reports to the Chairman of the Board. Executives are a firm's senior leaders responsible for promoting overall direction and working with their team members to ensure employee engagement that promotes business growth. 

Other Titles with the Word "Manager"

Two common and important positions in a firm include product managers and project managers. 

A Product Manager is responsible for the success and ongoing management of a product or service category. They typically work across functions to identify and gain investment approval for new offerings and then they work to help bring these offerings to market. Once in the market, product managers are accountable for pricing and promotions strategies and for ensuring their offerings remain competitive over time. 

Project Managers are responsible for leading teams of individuals for temporary and unique initiatives (projects). Projects range from new product development to a new software implementation to building or expanding new facilities. Anything that is not part of the daily operations aspect of a firm is considered to fall into the world of projects. 

The Bottom Line:

While the role and responsibilities of a manager are changing with the times, the position remains an important part of today's organizations. A person interested in developing as a manager is encouraged to excel in his or her daily functional work and showcase the ability to guide, lead and problem solve with others. While management is not for everyone, it remains a viable, rewarding and potentially lucrative career for many. 

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Updated by Art Petty