Discovering the answer to "What do Managers Do?" was deceptively difficult. In the process of interviewing the four subjects for this assignment, I found more questions being raised about the nature of managerial duties. Part of the reason for this complexity is the wide range of managerial positions available in the corporate world today. From public relations to sales managers to personnel managers, each performs his or her own functions and acts out certain roles in the company. However, even though these different types of managers perform different roles and serve different functions, there are several overarching qualities that characterize what managers actually do during the course of their careers. Most managers act as leaders; the organize groups of people and delegate authority. Some managers work more with tasks than with people, but regardless of the specific managerial position, all managers rely on a good set of people skills. As an aspiring manager, I was hoping to extract from these interviewees information about the actual day-to-day affairs of the job, the actual tasks that consume most of the manager's working hours, and the general traits, talents and skills that effective managers must demonstrate and develop. I was interested also in examining which areas of management I might be interested in entering based on the responses offered by the team of four diverse interview subjects.
I selected four completely different types of managers for the purposes of this report to give as broad a range of potential positions as was possible. Janice Rowland is the Public Relations Manager at a large multimedia production center. Garth Collins works as Production Manager at a manufacturing plant. Judy Rich is the Project Coordination Manager for a local television station. Finally, Lance Trebek is Senior Art Design Manager an advertisement firm. The duties of these four different managers differ greatly: Janice works primarily with people; Garth with products and machines; Judy with processes and projects; and Lance with creative enterprises and ideas. To glean more specifically what these managers do I used the Mintzberg questionnaire and summarized the results in this report.
Henry Mintzberg's questionnaire categorizes three types of managerial roles: interpersonal, informational, and decisional. Ten subcategories of managerial positions include Figurehead, Leader, Liaison, Monitor, Disseminator, Spokesperson, Entrepreneur, Disturbance handler, Resource Allocator, and Negotiator. Interpersonal Roles, according to Mintzberg, include Figurehead, Leader, and Liaison. Informational Roles consist of Monitor, Disseminator, and Spokesperson. The Decisional Role consists of Entrepreneur, Disturbance Handler, Resource Allocator, and Negotiator.
Mintzberg also allows for other categories that do not fit the above definitions. Central to the questionnaire was the amount of time spent on certain tasks or in certain roles. In addition to the amount of time spent on the tasks or in the roles, interviewees were also asked how important they felt that specific role to be for their specific job. Finally, I had each of the subjects provide specific examples of those roles and tasks so that I could formulate a comprehensive answer to the fundamental question, "What do Managers Do?" Numerical responses and the calculation of the Importance/Time ratio are offered in the report summary in addition to written explanations and analysis.
Results and Analysis
The first question of the Mintzberg questionnaire regards the Figurehead Role: "Acts as legal and symbolic head; performs obligatory social, ceremonial, or legal duties." Janice Rowland, Public Relations Manager, rated this role highest of all in terms of importance, with a 4. Judy Rich rated it a 3 in terms of importance, while both Garth and Lance gave this a 2. Part of the reason why Janice might have rated the Figurehead role as more important as the other three managers is because her job directly involves performing obligatory social and ceremonial duties. As public relations manager, she often has to attend lunches and meetings. When asked for an example of her being in a figurehead role she specifically mentioned frequent one-on-one and group meetings as requisite for her job. Therefore, Janice also rated the Figurehead duties as a 4 for time spent. She noted that although she is not the company CEO or symbolic figurehead, as a public relations manager she is often the only person from the company that outsiders communicate with. Her I/T ratio equaled 1. Judy Rich, Product Coordination Manager, noted that she spent minimal time on figurehead duties and thus rated this question a 2 in terms of time spent. Therefore her I/T ratio equaled 1.5. As Project Coordination Manager, Judy mentioned that she occasionally had to represent her department at special functions but declined feeling fully like a figurehead. Garth and Lance both listed 1 in terms of time spent as Figurehead so their I/T ratios were 2. As Garth works as a plant Production Manager and Lance as Senior Art Design Manager, neither felt they had to spend any time at all serving as a figurehead for their companies.
The second question: "Motivates, develops, and guides subordinates; staffing, training, and associated duties," deals with leadership. For this question, three of the four interview subjects rated this a 5: Judy, Lance, and Garth. Janice was the only one to rate this duty a 3. Perhaps because she spends more of her time as a figurehead, Janice noted that although she occasionally has to motivate and guide subordinates, that her main duties do not encompass this type of leadership. She also listed the time spent on this role as a 2, giving her an I/T ratio of 1.5. Judy Rich, on the other hand, coordinates programming for a television station and thus frequently has to work with subordinates including editors. She rated the time she spent on this task as a 4, yielding an I/T ratio of 1.25. Lance is an Art Design Manager; as examples for this topic he listed having to mete out challenging creative assignments to interns and other coworkers, creating teams of individuals to work on specific projects, and generally act as a motivating force within his department. He offered a 4.5 in terms of time, yielding an I/T / ratio of 1.1. Finally, Garth also demonstrated that he spends a considerable amount of time working with subordinates, training them, motivating them, and assigning tasks. He listed a 4 in terms of time spend, making his I/T ratio 1.25.
The third question denotes the role of Liaison Handler. The question reads, "Maintains a network of contacts and information sources outside own group to obtain information and assistance." Janice and Judy both rated this role a 5 in terms of both time and importance, giving them an I/T ratio of 1. For examples Janice listed a few that were similar to what she gave in the figurehead category such as having to attend lunches and meetings almost daily. As public relations manager, Janice's main role, she emphasized, was as a liaison. Judy also rated this task a 5 in terms of both time spent and importance. As examples she noted that she is almost constantly in meetings with other production coordinators, producers, and writers regarding television content and scheduling. Garth and Lance also had an I/T ration of 1, but Garth rated this task a 2 in terms of both time and importance. He stated that he occasionally has to attend meetings but that is not a huge part of his job, while Lance rated this role a 3: he spends some time in meetings every week but he doesn't feel that it is one of the most salient parts of his career as a creative manager.
Monitoring roles are summed up by the fourth item on the questionnaire: "Seeks and obtains information to understand organization and environment. Acts as nerve center for organization." Janice rated this a 1 in terms of both importance and time spent, with a I/T ratio of 1. As public relations manager, she does not have to spend much time or energy on the types of tasks listed such as producing expense and production control statements. Rather, her duties are more geared toward interpersonal communications. Judy Rich rated this task exactly the same; in her job as production coordinator she rarely if ever encounters these types of tasks. Lance likewise rated this task 1 in terms of time spent but issued it a 2 for importance. He indicated that while he felt these tasks were important that his job simply did not require much attention paid to them. Therefore he yielded an I/T ratio of 2. Garth rated this task much higher than the other subjects: 4 for time and importance, with a ratio of 1. As Production Manager, Garth basically is the "nerve center" for his organization and is in charge of work flow management and production control.
For the fifth item of the questionnaire, "Transmits information to subordinates within own organizational area of responsibility," the respondents rated the role of disseminator. None of them rated this task high. Judy ranked it a 3 for both time and importance but the other three interview respondents…