The role of 'manager' sound simple enough, but anyone who has ever served as a manager knows that it is far more complex than it might sound at first. Being a leader in any organization is a complicated and challenging task that can take on a variety of forms depending on the needs of the organization and the people that are being led. Any given manager may be asked to complete a variety of tasks during a given day depending on what comes up and what problems need to be solved.
This is the general idea behind Mintzberg's Management Roles. These ten management roles were published as part of Mintzberg's book in 1990, and they cover the spectrum of tasks and responsibilities that a manager must take on at one point or another.
In order to better organize a long list of ten roles, they have been divided up into three categories - interpersonal, informational, and decisional. Below we will look at each of the ten roles, what they mean for the manager, and which of the three categories they fit into.
One of the important roles of a leader is simply to be a figurehead for the rest of the group. This is one of the interpersonal roles, because so much of it is about being someone that people can turn to when they need help, support, etc. A good leader will project confidence so that everyone involved feels a sense of security and reassurance that the job will be done right.
Another interpersonal role, this one should be obvious. A manager needs to lead the people that he or she is in charge of guiding toward a specific goal. This can include telling them what to do and when to do it, organizing the structure of the team members to highlight specific skills that each possesses, and even offering rewards for a job well done.
The final role within the interpersonal category, acting as a liaison means that the manager must successfully interface with a variety of people - both within the organization and on the outside - to keep things running smoothly. This point is all about communication, and it is one of the main things that determines the ultimate success or failure of a manager. Being able to properly communicate with a range of people in such a way that the project remains on track is a crucial skill to develop.
Acting as a monitor is the first managerial role within the informational category. Just as the word would indicate, being a monitor involves tracking changes in the field that your organization works in, as well as changes on your team that might be signs of trouble down the road. Things are never static in business, so the successful manager is one who will constantly monitor the situation around them and make quick changes as necessary.
It does no good as a manager to collect information from a variety of internal and external sources if you are only going to keep it for yourself. The point of gathering that information is so that your team can benefit from it directly, so the next informational role is dissemination - getting information out quickly and effectively to the rest of your team. Wasted time by the team members on a certain part of a project often has to do with them not possessing all of the relevant information, so make sure they have it as soon as possible.
As the head of a team of any size or role within the organization, you will be the representative of that team when it comes to meetings, announcements, etc. Being a spokesperson is the final informational role on the list, and it is an important one because perception is often a big part of reality. Even if your team is doing great work, it might not be reflected as such to other decision makers in the organization if you aren't a good spokesperson.
In some ways, being a manager within a larger organization is like running your own small business. While you will have managers above you to answer to, you still need to think like an entrepreneur in terms of quickly solving problems, thinking of new ideas that could move your team forward, and more. This is the first role within the decisional category on the list.
It is almost inevitable that there will be disturbances along the way during any kind of project or task that involves more than one person. The second item in the decisional section of the list is being a disturbance handler, because getting back on track after a problem arises is important to short-term and long-term productivity. Whether it is a conflict among team members or a bigger problem outside of the group, your ability to handle disturbances says a lot about your skills as a manager.
Every project is tackled using resources that are limited in some way or another. As a resource allocator, it is your job to best use what you have available in order to get the job done and meet your defined goals and objectives. Resources can include budget that has been made available for a project, raw materials, employees, and more. This is the third item within the decisional category, yet it is one of the most important things a manager must do.
Business is all about negotiation, and that is especially true for managers. The final role on the list, being a negotiator doesn't just mean going outside of the organization to negotiate the terms of a new deal. In fact, most of the important negotiation will take place right within your own team itself. Getting everyone to buy in to the overall goal and vision for a project likely will mean negotiating with individual team members to get them to adopt a role that suits their skills and personal development goals. A good manager will be able to negotiate their way through these challenges and keep the project on track for success.
You may also be interested in:
Mintzberg's Management Roles | Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team | Birkinshaw's Four Dimensions of Management | Waldroop and Butler's Six Problem Behaviors | Cog's Ladder | Leader-Member Exchange Theory | Belbin's Team Roles | Benne and Sheats' Group Roles | Margerison-McCann Team Management Profile | The JD-R Model.
As a manager, you probably fulfill many different roles every day.
For instance, as well as leading your team, you might find yourself resolving a conflict, negotiating new contracts, representing your department at a board meeting, or approving a request for a new computer system.
Put simply, you're constantly switching roles as tasks, situations, and expectations change. Management expert and professor Henry Mintzberg recognized this, and he argued that there are ten primary roles or behaviors that can be used to categorize a manager's different functions.
In this article and video, we'll examine these roles and see how you can use your understanding of them to improve your management skills.
Use Mintzberg's Management Roles to improve your understanding of the roles played by all managers.
Mintzberg published his Ten Management Roles in his book, "Mintzberg on Management: Inside our Strange World of Organizations," in 1990.
The ten roles are:
- Disturbance Handler
- Resource Allocator
From MINTZBERG ON MANAGEMENT by Henry Mintzberg. Copyright © 1989 by Henry Mintzberg. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
The 10 roles are then divided up into three categories, as follows:
Let's look at each of the ten managerial roles in greater detail.
The managerial roles in this category involve providing information and ideas.
- Figurehead – As a manager, you have social, ceremonial and legal responsibilities. You're expected to be a source of inspiration. People look up to you as a person with authority, and as a figurehead.
- Leader – This is where you provide leadership for your team, your department or perhaps your entire organization; and it's where you manage the performance and responsibilities of everyone in the group.
- Liaison – Managers must communicate with internal and external contacts. You need to be able to network effectively on behalf of your organization.
The managerial roles in this category involve processing information.
- Monitor – In this role, you regularly seek out information related to your organization and industry, looking for relevant changes in the environment. You also monitor your team, in terms of both their productivity, and their well-being.
- Disseminator – This is where you communicate potentially useful information to your colleagues and your team.
- Spokesperson – Managers represent and speak for their organization. In this role you're responsible for transmitting information about your organization and its goals to the people outside it.
The managerial roles in this category involve using information.
- Entrepreneur – As a manager, you create and control change within the organization. This means solving problems, generating new ideas, and implementing them.
- Disturbance Handler – When an organization or team hits an unexpected roadblock, it's the manager who must take charge. You also need to help mediate disputes within it.
- Resource Allocator – You'll also need to determine where organizational resources are best applied. This involves allocating funding, as well as assigning staff and other organizational resources.
- Negotiator – You may be needed to take part in, and direct, important negotiations within your team, department, or organization.
Applying the Model
You can use Mintzberg's 10 Management Roles model as a frame of reference when you're thinking about developing your own skills and knowledge. (This includes developing yourself in areas that you consciously or unconsciously shy away from.)
First, examine how much time you currently spend on each managerial role. Do you spend most of your day leading? Managing conflict? Disseminating information? This will help you decide which areas to work on first.
Next, get a piece of paper and write out all ten roles. Score yourself from 1-5 on each one, with 1 being "Very skilled" to 5 being "Not skilled at all."
Once you've identified your weak areas, use the following resources to start improving your abilities in each role.
Figureheads represent their teams. If you need to improve or build confidence in this area, start with your image, behavior, and reputation. Cultivate humility and empathy, learn how to set a good example at work, and think about how to be a good role model.
This is the role you probably spend most of your time fulfilling. To improve here, start by taking our quiz, How Good Are Your Leadership Skills? This will give you a thorough understanding of your current abilities.
Next, learn how to be an authentic leader, so your team will respect you. Also, focus on improving your emotional intelligence – this is an important skill for being an effective leader.
To improve your liaison skills, work on your professional networking techniques. You may also like to take our Bite-Sized Training course on Networking Skills.
To improve here, learn how to gather information effectively and overcome information overload. Also, use effective reading strategies, so that you can process material quickly and thoroughly, and learn how to keep up-to-date with industry news.
To be a good disseminator you need to know how to share information and outside views effectively, which means that good communication skills are vital.
Learn how to share organizational information with Team Briefings. Next, focus on improving your writing skills. You might also want to take our communication skills quiz, to find out where else you can improve.
To be effective in this role, make sure that you know how to represent your organization at a conference. You may also want to read our articles on delivering great presentations and working with the media (if applicable to your role).
To improve here, build on your change management skills, and learn what not to do when implementing change in your organization. You'll also need to work on your problem solving and creativity skills, so that you can come up with new ideas, and implement them successfully.
In this role, you need to excel at conflict resolution and know how to handle team conflict. It's also helpful to be able to manage emotion in your team.
To improve as a resource allocator, learn how to manage a budget, cut costs, and prioritize, so that you can make the best use of your resources. You can also use VRIO Analysis to learn how to get the best results from the resources available to you.
Improve your negotiation skills by learning about Win-Win Negotiation and Distributive Bargaining.
You might also want to read our article on role-playing – this technique can help you prepare for difficult negotiations.
Mintzberg's 10 Management Roles model sets out the essential roles that managers play. These are:
- Disturbance Handler
- Resource Allocator
You can apply Mintzberg's 10 Management Roles model by using it as a frame of reference when you want to develop your management skills. Work on the roles that you fulfill most often as a priority, but remember that you won't necessarily fulfill every role as part of your job.
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