To meet the many demands of performing their functions, managers assume multiple roles. A role is an organized set of behaviors. Henry Mintzberg has identified ten roles common to the work of all managers. The ten roles are divided into three groups: interpersonal, informational, and decisional.
The informational roles link all managerial work together. The interpersonal roles ensure that information is provided. The decisional roles make significant use of the information.
The performance of managerial roles and the requirements of these roles can be played at different times by the same manager and to different degrees depending on the level and function of management. The ten roles are described individually, but they form an integrated whole.
The three interpersonal roles are primarily concerned with interpersonal relationships.
In the figurehead role, the manager represents the organization in all matters of formality. The top level manager represents the company legally and socially to those outside of the organization. The supervisor represents the work group to higher management and higher management to the work group.
In the liaison role, the manger interacts with peers and people outside the organization. The top level manager uses the liaison role to gain favors and information, while the supervisor uses it to maintain the routine flow of work.
The leader role defines the relationships between the manger and employees.
The direct relationships with people in the interpersonal roles place the manager in a unique position to get information.
Thus, the three informational roles are primarily concerned with the information aspects of managerial work. In the monitor role, the manager receives and collects information. In the role of disseminator, the manager transmits special information into the organization. The top level manager receives and transmits more information from people outside the organization than the supervisor.
In the role of spokesperson, the manager disseminates the organization’s information into its environment. Thus, the top level manager is seen as an industry expert, while the supervisor is seen as a unit or departmental expert.
The unique access to information places the manager at the center of organizational decision making.
There are four decisional roles. In the entrepreneur role, the manager initiates change. In the disturbance handler role, the manger deals with threats to the organization. In the resource allocator role, the manager chooses where the organization will expend its efforts. In the negotiator role, the manager negotiates on behalf of the organization. The top level manager makes the decisions about the organization as a whole, while the supervisor makes decisions about his or her particular work unit.
The supervior performs these managerial roles but with different emphasis than higher managers. Supervisory management is more focused and short-term in outlook.
Thus, the figurehead role becomes less significant and the disturbance handler and negotiator roles increase in importance for the supervisor.
Since leadership permeates all activities, the leader role is among the most important of all roles at all levels of management.
(By Chris van Overveen – Senior Consultant)