Introduction Time and again various theories have been put forward on management in general and the nature of a manager’s job. Henry Mintzberg is a leading management theorist and writer who also propounds a theory on a manager and his job. Mintzberg claims that while all leading management writers present some facets of management they completely ignore other facets.
Mintzberg talks about management literature by well known writers and says “Together perhaps they cover all the parts but even that does not describe the whole job of managing”(Mintzberg 1994, p.1)”. He has attempted to repair this fault and give us what gives us a very ‘well rounded’ and composite view of a manager and essentially managing. In order to analyze and understand these theories by Henry Mintzberg an interview and case study was done of a real life manager.
Subsequent analysis and interpretation of the data collected during the interview while considering the management theory helps to understand the relation and relevance of the management theory to the real world. It also helped to prove some of the tenets of the theory. Brief description of the manager interviewedAnabel was the manager interviewed. She is a first level manager in a private service sector Australian based multinational organization.
The organization is a major telecom concern having their main office in Sydney that has presence worldwide and employs more than a 100 people. The manager has the position of Team lead. She has her team members as direct reports. She is the first point of contact for escalation from her team members, managers and customers.
She ensures that her team works towards achieving organizational goals while achieving individual and team goals. She finds her role very demanding and challenging but at the same time fulfilling and rewarding. Mintzberg’s managerial roles and their reflection in real life Mintzberg maintains that a managers job can be segregated or viewed as consisting of various “roles”. These roles can be classified into three main categories.
Mintzberg says, “ formal authority gives rise to 3 interpersonal roles, which in turn gives rise to three informational roles; These 2 sets of roles enable a manager to play the 4 decisional roles.”(Mintzberg 1975, p.54) Hence roles are classified as interpersonal roles, informational roles and decisional roles When analyzing the work of the Anabel it was found that the tasks and responsibilities of Anabel could be grouped to be a responsibility of one of the roles as described by Mintzberg. Interpersonal roles As per Mintzberg a manager has formal authority over the people of the unit for which he is responsible.
This formal authority gives rise to interpersonal interactions and implies a number of interpersonal roles. Anabel as a manager was involved in playing the interpersonal roles defined by Mintzberg. a. Figurehead Anabel was routinely involved in recognition programs for her direct reports.
Such recognition programs, though more of a ceremonial nature, are essential in the best interests of the organization. She was also involved in attending supplier service review meetings and providing feedback to the suppliers. Although this is not necessary to achieve organizational objectives, she performed this as an obligation due to her position of a manager. This is in accordance with Mintzberg’s definition of the role of figurehead of a manager.
b. Leader Anabel displayed a leadership role as defined by Mintzberg in various ways. The manager regularly conducted team meetings to communicate organizational goals and to decide how best to achieve them. In order to achieve the organizational goals Anabel also regularly used performance metrics reports to analyze the performance of individuals and the team and identify areas of improvement and ensure that appropriate action is taken to improve performance.
Also she was to a certain extent involved in understanding the technical aspects of the product delivery and directing and training team members to achieve desired targets. Thus she was involved in encouraging and motivating team members to align their own goals with organizational goals and to achieve them. Thus Anabel as a manager satisfies Mintzberg’s criterion that “Managers encourage and drive people of their units-motivate them , inspire them, coach them , nurture them, mentor them , push them and so on”(Mintzberg 1994, p.19).
c. Liaison Anabel was involved in regularly maintaining contact with managers of those teams that the team regularly interacted with. This would happen through in-house training sessions conducted for various teams , or just by informal communication among the various workgroups. This helped the manager to maintain a strong communication network that ultimately helped the team achieve its tasks easily.
Thus Anabel also fitted into the role of a liaison defined by Mintzberg . Informational roles Mintzberg says that a manager enjoys several informational roles as he is the data bank of the organization. A manager generally knows more information than anybody else in the organization because he obtains information through his subordinates and liaison contacts. Anabel also displayed these qualities as she was the main hub of information in her team and maintained a strong information network.
a. Monitor One of the strong aspects of work of Anabel is the strong interpersonal communication that she shares with her subordinates and peers .She encourages open communication of feedbacks, suggestions and concerns which are verbal and vital to an organization. She plays the role of monitor as she satisfies Mintzberg’s criteria that a manager is on the constant lookout for information as a monitor.
b. Disseminator Anabel was responsible for sharing information that she gathered from outside contacts to team members. Anabel regularly attended supplier, customer, management meetings and gathered information such as feedback or information concerning team members, which was then relayed, to the team members. This information which is vital to the team to perform its tasks, remain motivated, to achieve organizational objectives and improve quality is otherwise inaccessible to the team.
c. Spokesman Anabel regularly played the role of a spokesman where she represented the organization outside. She attended supplier, customer and stakeholder meetings. She communicated information about the expectations from and towards the organization.
She communicated to customers the manner of processing of a customer order, information regarding customer accounts, requirements and the operational needs of the business and various other processes involved. Decisional RolesAccording to Mintzberg ultimately information is vital only because it aids us in decision making i.e. to perform some vital actions.
There are 4 decisional roles that Henry Mintzberg talks about in his management theory which Anabel’s work correlates to a. Entrepreneur Anabel was involved in regularly deciding the structure of the team by evaluating information and performance metrics available regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the team members and making sure that vital tasks which have to be done regularly are not affected by absence of any of the team members. This was done along with improvement of processes and working practices within the team and hence performance of the team. b.
Disturbance handler One of the vital roles that a manager can play according to Mintzberg is the role of a disturbance handler. Within any organizations there would be significant amount of pressure, escalations and disturbances that have to be resolved and handled well. The manager interviewed served as the first point of contact for escalations from team members, managers and customers and thus played the role of a disturbance handler. c.
Resource allocator Anabel played the role of resource allocator by regularly analyzing his team members their strengths and weaknesses and deciding how to delegate various tasks to them. She also decided on the structure of the team so as to optimize performance and hence provide better customer service and satisfaction. Also allocating her own time for these tasks and delegating the tasks that she needs to be performed are a part of her role as a resource allocator. d.
Negotiator Anabel played the role of negotiator by managing customer expectations regarding timelines, delivery of an order, management of customer accounts and so on. She was the first point of contact for team members, customers and management during escalations , she handled them and resolved any conflicts. After analyzing Anabel’s work it is seen that her various tasks as a manager are part of one atleast one of the roles as given by Mintzberg satisfying Mintzberg’s claim that a manager is an aggregate of all these roles. However it is impossible to clearly define boundaries and segregate the various roles and subsequently group tasks of a manager unambiguously under these roles.
No role can be performed independent from any other role. In Anabel’s case in order to decide on the structuring and resource allocation within the team she would essentially be playing a decisional role of a resource allocator. However to play this role she also needs to play the role of a leader and a monitor where she evaluates the performance and skill sets of various team members and based on the information obtained decides how various resources are to be utilized. Conclusion From all of the above observations after attempting to correlate Anabel’s work as a manager with Mintzberg’s management theory it is seen that a correlation does exist and Mintzberg’s theory is useful to explain the work of Anabel as a manager.
Anabel’s work as a manager requires her to play effectively the 10 roles that have been outlined above. None of her tasks can be clearly separated as belonging to one of the roles. All the roles are integrated and to perform any of the roles effectively it is essential to perform some other role. Hence Mintzberg’s claim that “The manager who only communicates or only conceives never gets anything done while the manager who only does ends up doing everything”(Mintzberg 1994, p.
22) is satisfied Hence it is essential that a manager performs the various roles effectively to perform a well rounded job. Mintzberg’s theory does indeed relate to real life and is definitely an explanation of Anabel’s work as a manager but does not enable us to interpret the work of a manager any more easily. References Lamond, D (2003) ‘Henry Mintzberg vs. Henri Fayol: Of Lighthouses, Cubists and the Emperor’s New Clothes’, Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, v8 n4, p5-24 Mintzberg, H (1975) ‘The manager’s job Folklore and fact’, Harvard Business Review, v 53 n 4, July – August, p49-61 Mintzberg, H (1994) ‘Rounding out the Managers job’, Sloan Management Review, v 36 n 1 p 11-26 Hales, C.
P.(1986) What do managers do ? A critical review of the evidence. Journal of management studies ,23(1),88-115. Mintzberg, H (1897) ‘Crafting strategy’, Harvard Business Review , pp 66-75 Gemmy, A 1998 , Supervision, Viewed 28 June, 2007, <http://ollie.dcccd.edu/mgmt1374/book_intro.html> 2007, Western libraries at the University of Ontario, Viewed 28 June 2007 ,http://www.lib.uwo.ca/business/mintzberg.html