There are many roles a manager has within an organization. Performing these roles is the basis of a manager’s job. To be effective at these roles, a manger must be a complete businessperson by understanding the strategic, tactical and operational responsibilities he or she holds. While not always explicitly stated in a manager’s job description, at any given moment a manager might have to be a coach, a strategic planner, a liaison, a cheerleader, a conflict manager, a realist, a problem-solver, an organizer, an optimist, a trainer and a decision-maker. These roles can change from day to day, but one thing is for sure: a manager must understand all of his or her roles and how to perform them effectively. This means that a manager must have a global understanding of all business functions, organizational goals, his or her level of accountability and the appropriate way to serve both internal and external clients of the organization. Henry Mintzberg spent much of his career researching the managerial roles and behaviors of several chief executive officers, or CEOs. Mintzberg discovered that managers spent most of their time engaging in ten specific roles. He was able to then classify these roles into three categories, including interpersonal, informational and decisional roles. To better understand these roles, let’s look at how they are applied by Bernard the Boss as he goes through his daily routine as a manager at a local grocery store.
The first category of roles described by Mintzberg is called interpersonal roles. These roles involve the behaviors associated with human interaction. In other words, interpersonal roles are those roles that allow a manager to interact with his or her employees for the purpose of achieving organizational goals. There are three roles listed under interpersonal roles, which include figurehead, leader and liaison. Let’s look at how these three roles are played out by Bernard. When Bernard arrives at the store in the morning, he holds a daily meeting for all employees who are working that day. He spends time talking about daily specials and sales goals and motivates his employees for the day by holding a friendly contest between the workers to try to sell as many of the sale items as possible during their shift. He informs his employees that the highest seller will win a $50 gift certificate for the store. As a figurehead, Bernard the Boss has certain social, ceremonial and legal responsibilities that his employees expect him to fulfill. Bernard is seen as a source of inspiration and authority to his employees. As Bernard goes about his day, he must make sure that he’s monitoring the performance of his employees and how well they are doing in their sales. He checks with his employees periodically to make sure they understand the products that are on sale and what key features to point out, as well as to remind them of their goal of winning the contest. Bernard the Boss’s role as a leader requires him to direct and manage the performance of his employees. He will spend time communicating performance goals, training and mentoring employees, supporting employee efforts, supplying resources, evaluating employee performance and motivating employees toward a higher level of productivity. Bernard does not leave all the selling up to his employees, because he likes to maintain contact with his customers to better understand their needs and how he can accommodate them. He stops and chats with several customers throughout the day to get feedback on sale items and to learn about products that his customers would like to see the store put on sale in the future. Acting as a liaison is Bernard the Boss’s final interpersonal role. As a liaison, Bernard communicates with internal and external members of the organization. This networking activity is a critical step in reaching organizational goals, especially those concerned with customers.
The second category of managerial roles is informational roles. The informational roles include those roles in which a manager must generate and share knowledge to successfully achieve organizational goals. There are three roles listed under informational roles, which include monitor, disseminator and spokesperson. After Bernard is comfortable with his employees’ understanding of the sales products and their goals, he heads back to his office to do some research for what he will put on sale next week. Bernard spends time reflecting on the feedback his employees gave and the information his customers shared with him that day, and he also looks at what his competitors are putting on sale at this time. The monitor role that Bernard the Boss must fill involves the task of researching, locating and choosing useful information. As a monitor, Bernard has to stay abreast to current industry standards and changes occurring in both the internal and external business environments. This also includes monitoring the performance of employees and their level of productivity. Bernard combines all of the information into a proposal for next week’s sale advertisement and forwards the information to upper management for approval. He also spends some time previewing this information with his employees so that they can begin to familiarize themselves with the items. As a disseminator, Bernard must take the information he gathered as a monitor and forward it on to the appropriate individuals. Now that Bernard has approval from upper management, he creates the advertisement for next week’s sale items and begins to distribute it to his customers. Acting as a spokesperson on behalf of the organization is Bernard’s final informational role. As a spokesperson, Bernard communicates information about the organization to outside parties.
The third category of managerial roles according to Mintzberg is called decisional roles. Decisional roles include roles such as the entrepreneur, disturbance-handler, resource-allocator and negotiator. All of these roles involve the process of using information to make decisions.