Monday, June 22, 2009

Mintzberg’s 10 Managerial Roles

  1. Figurehead.
    Social, inspirational, legal and ceremonial duties must be carried out. The manager is a symbol and must be on-hand for people/agencies that will only deal with him/her because of status and authority.

  2. The leader role
    This is at the heart of the manager-subordinate relationship and managerial power and pervasive where subordinates are involved even where perhaps the relationship is not directly interpersonal. The manager

    • defines the structures and environments within which sub-ordinates work and are motivated.
    • oversees and questions activities to keep them alert.
    • selects, encourages, promotes and disciplines.
    • tries to balance subordinate and organisational needs for efficient operations.

  3. Liaison:
    This is the manager as an information and communication centre. It is vital to build up favours. Networking skills to shape maintain internal and external contacts for information exchange are essential. These ontacts give access to "databases"- facts, requirements, probabilities.

  4. As 'monitor'
    - the manager seeks/receives information from many sources to evaluate the organisation's performance, well-being and situation. Monitoring of internal operations, external events, ideas, trends, analysis and pressures is vital. Information to detect changes, problems & opportunities and to construct decision-making scenarios can be current/historic, tangible (hard) or soft, documented or non-documented.This role is about building and using an intelligence system. The manager must install and maintain this information system; by building contacts & training staff to deliver "information".

  5. As disseminator
    - the manager brings external views into his/her organisation and facilitiates internal information flows between subordinates (factual or value-based).

    The preferences of significant people are received and assimilated. The manager interprets/disseminates information to subordinates e.g. policies, rules, regulations. Values are also desseminated via conversations laced with imperatives and signs/icons about what is regarded as imprtant or what 'we believe in'.

    There is a dilemma of delegation. Only the manager has the data for many decisions and often in the wrong form (verbal/memory vs. paper). Sharing is time-consuming and difficult. He/she and staff may be already overloaded. Communication consumes time. The adage 'if you want to get things done, (it is best to do it yourself' comes to mind. Why might this be a driver of managerial behaviour (reluctance or constraints on the ability to delegate)?

  6. As spokesman (P.R. capacity)
    - the manager informs and lobbies others (external to his/her own organisational group). Key influencers and stakeholders are kept informed of performances, plans & policies. For outsiders, the manager is an expert in the field in which his/her organisation operates.

  7. A senior manager is responsible for his/her organisation's strategy-making system - generating and linking important decisions. He/she has the authority, information and capacity for control and integration over important decisions.

    As initiator/changer
    - he/she designs and initiates much of the controlled change in the organisation. Gaps are identified, improvement programmes defined. The manager initiates a series of related decisions/activities to achieve actual improvement. Improvement projects may be involved at various levels. The manager can

    1. delegate all design responsibility selecting and even replace subordinates.
    2. empower subordinates with responsbility for the design of the improvement programme but e.g. define the parameters/limits and veto or give the go-ahead on options.
    3. supervise design directly.

    Senior managers may have many projects at various development stages (emergent/dormant/nearly-ready) working on each periodically interspersed by waiting periods for information feedback or progress etc. Projects roll-on and roll-off,

  8. the disturbance handler
    - is a generalist role i.e. taking charge when the organisation hits an iceberg unexpectedly and where there is no clear programmed response. Disturbances may arise from staff, resources, threats or because others make mistakes or innovation has unexpected consequences. The role involves stepping in to calm matters, evaluate, re-allocate, support - removing the thorn - buying time. The metaphors here are

    If you are up to your backside in alligators it is no use talking about draining the swamp.


    Stop the bleeding as only then can you take care of the long term health of the patient. (not Mintzberg's anecdote)

  9. As resource allocator
    - the manager oversees allocation of all resources (£, staff, reputation). This involves:

    1. scheduling own time
    2. programming work
    3. authorising actions

    With an eye to the diary (scheduling) the manager implicitly sets organisational priorities. Time and access involve opportunity costs. What fails to reach him/her, fails to get support.

    The managerial task is to ensure the basic work system is in place and to programme staff overloads - what to do, by whom, what processing structures will be used.

    Authorising major decisions before implementation is a control over resource allocation. This enables coordinative interventions e.g. authorisation within a policy or budgeting process in comparison to ad-hoc interventions. With limited time, complex issues and staff proposals that cannot be dismissed lightly, the manager may decide on the proposer rather than proposal.

    To help evaluation processes, managers develop models and plans in their heads (they construe the relationships and signifiers in the situation). These models/constructions encompass rules, imperatives, criteria and preferences to evaluate proposals against. Loose, flexible and implicit plans are up-dated with new information.

  10. The negotiator
    - takes charge over important negotiating activities with other organisations. The spokesman, figurehead and resource allocator roles demand this.

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