HANDOUT Roles of management

The roles of management
The study of management roles provides an insight into what
managers actually do and is therefore helpful for understanding
the nature of management. Management roles refer to the
various behaviours of managers as they go about their work.
Managers play different roles in different circumstances in
much the same way as a typical year 12 student plays different
student, son or daughter, , friend, peer group member or employee. (You might think
about the various roles you play and the particular behaviours associated with each
Managerial roles can be broadly grouped into three categories: interpersonal,
informational and decisional.
The interpersonal role of management
The interpersonal role of management refers to the duties a
manager performs that involve relating to people both within
and outside the business. The typical manager, for example,
spends a great deal of time talking to subordinates (those
people the manager is supervising) about problems the
subordinate may be experiencing, making decisions about
what needs to he done and what resources will be needed, as
well as discussing common problems with the managers of
other departments and other businesses. Effective communication is clearly a
requirement of a successful manager and managers spend a great deal of their time
communicating with other people.
Managers also represent the public face of the business. They open
new factories, make speeches, take school excursions through the
business, outline where the business is going in the future to
employees, and set the ethical guidelines for the behaviour of
employees while at work.
When managers represent the public face of the business they are
playing a figurehead role. When they give direct commands and
orders to subordinates they are playing the role of leader. When they coordinate the
work of managers in different departments they are involved in a liaison role.
Together, these sub-roles make up the interpersonal managerial role.
The informational role of management
Managers need information from two sources. They need information about what is
happening in the external environment, because changes in that environment will
create both opportunities for and threats to their business. Typically this information
will relate to such things as what their competitors are doing, changes in the needs of
customers and so on. This is called the monitoring role.
They also need information about what is actually happening within
their business so that they can determine whether or not their plans
are working. All managers tend to have informational roles
involving receiving, collecting and disseminating information.
When managers are involved in telling other people in the business
about information they have collected it is called the disseminator
Sometimes managers have to inform the general public. They may
do this by having press conferences to launch new products or explain the future goals
of the business or explain the business’s policies on things like ethics and the
environment. This is called the spokesperson role.
The decisional role of management
Managers also play roles where they are required to make
choices. This involves decision-making. Managers act as the
entrepreneurs in a business. This entrepreneurial role of
managers is concerned with initiating such things as new projects
to develop and market new products. The manager will then
allocate the necessary financial resources for the people and
machinery required.
Another situation where managers will be required to make decisions is when there
are problems facing the business from the internal and external environment. An
example of an internal problem would be a major strike by the business’s workforce.
An example of a major problem from the external environment was the contaminated
aviation fuel distributed by Mobil in late 1999 and early 2000. Large numbers of
Mobil’s customers were unable to continue their own businesses and demanded
compensation from Mobil. In this situation, managers are playing the role of
disturbance handlers. They must take corrective action to solve unforeseen
Managers also make decisions as resource allocators. It is the role
of the manager to allocate the human resources, machinery and plant,
and monetary resources in the business. They will, for example, set
the budgets for all the departments in the business and determine the
wages and salaries of all subordinates.
Managers are also negotiators, They will negotiate agreements with
other groups such as suppliers, unions representing their employees,
and distributors. The purpose of the negotiations is to resolve conflict and ensure the
business gains the advantage when they discuss and bargain with these groups.