The aim of this essay is to investigate whether the work and skills of a manager are the same regardless of the level of their position within the organization. Through research conducted into three main theorists namely Henri Fayol, Henry Mintzberg and Robert L. Katz it is concluded that the core work functions a manager does are the same irrespective of position. The work roles in which a manager occupies within the organization are dependent upon the organization and their position within the organization. The skills that are needed by managers are universal to all managers but the composition of these skills is largely dependent upon the managers¡¯ position. ¡°The work and skills of managers are the same irrespective of the level of their position within the organization¡±
A manager¡¯s job is essential to the smooth operation and profitability of an organization. Can we say that the work and skills that managers need are the same irrespective of their level within the organization?
The short answer to the question posed above is yes and no. The long answer is that managers of all levels will perform the same basic management work functions. The role and consequently the type of work the manager does will be dictated by the level of their position within the organization and the type of organization. To accomplish these work functions the manager needs core sets of skills, however the composition of these core sets of skills is dependent upon their level within the organisation.
Work Functions of Management
Henri Fayol (1841-1925) first proposed the ideas of an ordered set of management functions (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter 2003, p. 41). Through Fayol¡¯s involvement as managing director of a large French coal-mining firm he developed a framework of management activities (Robbins, et al., 2003, p. 41). The functions of management that Fayol devised included planning, organising, commanding, co-ordinating and controlling (Lamond 1998, p. 6). The idea of core functions that pervades every level of management was revolutionary when Fayol first wrote it and is still used as a framework for many textbooks (Robbins, et al., 2003, p. 9). Through refinement of Fayol¡¯s five management functions it is now recognised that there are four distinct management functions: planning, organising, leading and controlling (Robbins, et al., 2003, p. 9).
Planning is defined as the decision-making process that all managers go through to identify goals and actions that an organization will follow (Robbins, et al., 2003, p. 9; Koontz, O¡¯Donnell, Weihrich, 1982, p. 27). Organizing is the part of management that involves arranging and co-ordinating work to achieve organisational goals (Robbins, et al., 2003, p. 9; Koontz, et al., 1982, p. 28). The manager must influence people so that they will work co-operatively and willingly to achieve these organisational goals, this is known as the leading function (Robbins, et al., 2003, p. 10; Koontz, et al., 1982, p. 29). Finally a manager must always control and monitor a subordinate¡¯s work this is the controlling function (Robbins, et al., 2003, p. 11; Koontz, et al., 1982, p. 29).
Through studies that included more than just observational activities, such as Williams (1956) and Hemphill (1959), it has been shown that managers at all levels undertake planning, co-ordination, control, and problem solving activities (Carrol and Gillen, 1987, p. 40). Through studies into effectiveness of managers it was found that the amount of time chief executive spent in organizational planning was directly related to the firm¡¯s profitability (Carrol and Gillen, 1987, p. 42). Studies into the work practices of a foreman at the General Electric Company found that foreman with higher production records spent more time in long range planning and organizing than foreman with lower production records (Carrol and Gillen, 1987, p. 40). This is yet more...
References: Carroll, S. & Gillen, D. (1987), ¡°Are the classical management functions useful in describing managerial work?¡±, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 38-51.
Koontz, H., O¡¯Donnell, C. & Weihrich, H. (1982), Essentials of Management, (3rd edn), McGraw-Hill Inc., Sydney.
Lamond, D. (1998), ¡°Back to the future: Lessons from the past for a new management era¡±. In G. Griffin (Ed.), Management Theory and Practice: Moving to a New Era, Macmillan.
McKenna, S. (2004), ¡°Predispositions and context in the development of managerial skills¡±, Management Decision, Vol. 23, No. 7, pp. 664-677.
Mintzberg, H. (1975), The Manager¡¯s Job: Folklaw and Fact, Harvard Business Review, July-August, pp49-61.
Peterson, T. & Van Fleet, D. (2004), ¡°The ongoing legacy of R.L. Katz An updated typology of management skills¡±, Management Decision, Vol. 42, No. 10, pp. 1297-1308.
Robbins, S., Bergman, R., Stagg, I. & Coulter, M. (2003), Management, (3rd edn.), Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest.
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