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Skills and roles of the manager

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What are the important skills of the manager and what roles he performs

To perform his activity effectively, the manager must have certain basic skills (qualities), regardless of the level at which he is, the nature of his work, etc.

Of course, different levels and areas of management require a complex combination of skills. Managerial skills are the second main component of a manager's job.

What are the important skills of the manager and what roles he performs?

The skills of the manager are usually divided into three groups: technical, humanitarian (human), and conceptual.

Technical skills

Technical skills include the ability to know and be able to use the tools, techniques, tools, and procedures to perform a job.

Technical skills have a relatively high weight at the lower and middle management level and relatively little importance at the senior level.

Humanitarian skills

Humanitarian skills refer to the ability to select, guide, and guide people, both individually and in groups. To be effective, the group technologist in question must know the qualifications of the other technologists to properly select the members of the group.

He must also know what motivates these technologists, how to structure relationships and information connections, what direction to give to do a good job. Humanitarian skills are very important for all three levels of management because, in the end, each manager does most of his work with the help of other people.

Of course, the number of people with whom the manager interacts is the highest at the grassroots level and the lowest at the top level.

Conceptual skills

Conceptual skills are related to the ability to see the big picture of the organization, how different parties interact, how a change in one part of it can lead to a change in the other parts.

Conceptual skills have arguably the highest weight at the top level of management because it is senior managers who must be able to see the "whole picture", the complexity and mechanisms of joining parts of the whole organization in a constantly changing external environment.

Managerial roles

Henry Mintzberg defines managerial roles as "an organized set of job-related behaviors." Determining the place and role of the manager in the distribution and implementation of management tasks can be done using the classification of H. Mintzberg of the ten characteristic roles of the manager, which in turn are divided into three main groups:


They derive directly from the official authority of the leader and suggest basic interpersonal relationships. The first is his role as a nominal head (figurehead). As head of a company or division, each manager must perform certain ceremonial duties. Read more: Manager or Leader: What are the differences and similarities

He represents the company or his entrusted unit in all official cases or formal matters. Managers are responsible for the work of the people in their unit. From this point of view, their activities determine the content of the role of the leader - the second role in this group. Some of these activities involve leadership directly.

The leader determines the relationship between management and subordinates - motivation, distribution of responsibilities, and specific tasks. For example, in many organizations, managers are usually responsible for hiring and training their staff.

In addition, there is indirect management of the leadership role. Each manager must encourage employees by aligning their individual needs with the goals of the organization in a certain way. The influence of managers is most clearly seen in their role as leaders.

The official government dresses them in great potential rights, the leadership largely determines what part of them will be realized. His position allows him to play a connecting role - the third role in this group - in which he interacts with colleagues and others outside the company.

The role of the relationship is manifested in the contacts that the manager makes outside the vertical line of power. These are contacts inside and outside the organization, aimed at maintaining good relations with people who are not directly subordinate to him or to whom he is not subordinate, but on whom to some extent depend on the work and relationships in his unit.


Information roles are related to the collection, processing, and transmission of non-routine information. By the numerous interpersonal contacts with their subordinates and various others, managers represent the "nerve center" of their unit.

The manager can know everything, but in general, he knows more than his subordinates. In his role of leader, the manager has official, and under certain conditions, easy access to each member of staff.

Moreover, his contacts in the role of liaison "subject" him to external information, to which his subordinates often do not have access. Many of these contacts are with other managers of equal status. In this way, the manager creates a powerful information base.

Information processing is a key part of a manager's job. They do not leave meetings or hang up to return to work. To a large extent, it is communications that are their job. These informational aspects of management work are described through three roles in this group:

Observer (supervisor)

As an observer (supervisor), the manager constantly carefully checks the environment for information, asking questions in his contacts in the role of liaison and his contacts with subordinates.

Thus, from his verbal contacts, he receives partial information, very often in the form of rumors or hints.


In his role as a distributor, the manager transmits some of the "privileged" information directly to his subordinates, who would otherwise not have access to it.

When the subordinates themselves do not have convenient contact with each other, the manager can pass the information from one subordinate to another.


As a spokesperson, the manager sends certain information to people outside the unit. The president of the organization gives a speech to lobby for the cause and the head of the production recommends a modification of the product to a customer.

In addition, as a spokesperson, each manager must inform and thus satisfy the influential people who control the organization or its subdivision. For a business manager, for example, this may mean keeping the head of the office informed about the work of the organization.

Making decisions

The work of the decision manager is described in four roles. Work related to information roles is not an end in itself, but a basis for decision-making. One thing is clear from the research on management work - managers play a key role in the decision-making system in their organization. Read more: Decisions making

Based on his official authority, only the manager can engage in new important areas of action, and as a "nerve center," only the manager has complete and up-to-date information to make decisions that determine the strategy of the organization or the unit.

Entrepreneurial role

As an entrepreneur, the manager seeks to improve the organization (unit), to adapt it to changing environmental conditions.

While the entrepreneurial role describes the manager as a voluntary initiator of change, his role as manager describes him as a person who is forced to react to tensions. The pressure of the situation is too strong to ignore, so the manager must act. Read more: Strategies for stress management in the organization

Disruptions in work occur not only because weak managers ignore situations until they finally end up in a crisis, but also because even good ones cannot foresee all the consequences they take.

Allocation of resources

The third decision-making role is a resource allocator. The manager is obliged to decide "who will take what". Perhaps the most important resource that managers allocate is their own time. In addition, the manager is also responsible for building the organizational structure - the model of formal relationships that determines how work should be distributed and coordinated. Read more: Program resources management

Again, as a resource allocator, the manager approves the important decisions of the organization to begin their implementation. By exercising this right, he guarantees the interdependence of decisions.

This right supports his otherwise fragmented decision-making process and "defocused" strategy. There are many interesting features when a manager approves decisions made by another. One of the most important circumstances that are observed is the common practice in choosing the problem with the approval of the draft decision to choose the person instead of the proposal.

This means that the manager approves projects proposed by people whose opinions he trusts.


The last role of the decision-making manager is his role as a mediator. Managers spend a lot of time negotiating. These negotiations are an integral part of the manager's job, as only he has the official authority to engage the organization's resources in "real-time" and the information from the "nerve center" that is needed in important negotiations.

It should already be clear that these ten roles cannot be easily separated from each other, that they form an integrated whole.

None of the roles can be removed and the work left intact. For example, a manager without contact contacts will not have enough external information.

As a result, this manager can neither disseminate the information that employees need, nor can he make decisions that adequately reflect external conditions. In the context of the above, that the ten roles form an "integrated whole" and require important management skills, we should add one more thing.

Great practitioner

The manager is a "great practitioner." This "special role" underlies and integrates all ten roles described by Mintzberg. The analogy with the "great practitioner" is borrowed from the medical world and comes down to the fact that the manager in this role is the first "receiver" of the problems.

Whatever role he chooses, he has to deal with the problems first, decide if something is a problem and if so, what kind of problem it is.

  • In other words, he must:
  • Identify the symptoms in the situation
  • To reveal the causes of the problem
  • Decide how problems can be solved
  • To begin the solution of the problem

At all these stages, the manager can use expert help or advice, but the responsibility for each of these stages lies with him.

Time management

Having looked at the types of managers and their skills and work, it is interesting to see how the time of the different managers is distributed to perform each of the five functions. Read more: The five functions of Fayol's management

There is a lot of research in this direction, as well as opinions denying the meaning of such research. For example, the famous H. Mintzberg writes: “If you ask managers what they do, they will most likely tell you that they plan, organize, coordinate, motivate and control.“ Then watch what they do. Don't be surprised if you can't connect what you see with the above words.

Managers do not regularly devote enough time to perform their basic management functions, because it is wasted on unnecessary conversations, solving problems that can be solved by lower levels of management, unorganized communications, etc. Read more: Time planning in project management

For all their conventions, however, studies of the structure of the working time of managers lead to some important conclusions:

Senior, middle, and grassroots managers

First, senior management uses most of its time for planning (average 35%) and change (average 20%) and the least part of its time for leadership and control (average 10%).

Second, middle managers spend most of their time organizing (leading an average of 25%) and leading (an average of 40%), as these managers are primarily responsible for implementing the strategies and plans of senior management. Read more: Different types of managers

Third, grassroots managers are mostly concerned with leadership (55%) and control (average 20%) and least with change (5%) and planning (average 10%).

The peculiarities of the working hours of managers

There are other important data on the peculiarities of the working hours of managers, reflecting not only the levels but also the nature of the activity. All of them show that the natural process of career movement from the lower, through the middle, to the higher level is an important condition for the gradual accumulation of experience in all functions, for the acquisition of skills necessary for highly effective work.

One of the main elements in the structure of the expenses of the working hours of the managers is the meetings. Their main purpose is to solve problems and tasks that require collective discussion. They are an effective form of exchange of information and experience between managers and structural units. 


According to their purpose, the meetings are to solve specific problems and to generate new ideas. Depending on their nature, they are administrative, informational, consultative, explanatory, coordinated, and problematic.

According to their purpose, they are related to the development and decision-making, the organization of the implementation of a decision, the evaluation of the results of the implementation of a decision, the solution of current production tasks.

The preparation of the meetings

The preparation of the meetings is one of the most important conditions for their effectiveness. It includes:

  • Assessment of the need for the meeting
  • The clear contents of the agenda
  • Determining the specific participants in the meeting
  • Sending invitations to participants
  • Determining the approximate duration of the meeting
  • Preparation and provision of the necessary materials to the participants
  • Determining the most appropriate time and place for the meeting
  • Preliminary distribution of participants by places, etc. 

Holding a meeting is a responsible activity

Holding a meeting is a particularly responsible activity and the following rules must be observed: starting at the exact time, a short introductory speech by the facilitator with a clear statement of the purpose, highlighting the problems and recalling the regulation, giving the floor first to subordinates, then to their superiors, etc.

After the meeting, the leader makes a brief overview and specifies the results in the form of either a final decision or the task of a group to prepare such a decision. Read more: Cog's ladder of group development


The main thing in the work of the manager, the "crown" of this work, is the achievements or practical results. They are what this work is measured and evaluated by, but this measurement and evaluation have different sides:

Level of analysis - in the expanded version the evaluation of the work of the manager starts from the individual contractor, goes through the group and the organization, and reaches those who will use the products and services of the organization, as well as society as a whole;

Evaluation criteria - the problem of the many possible criteria to make a selection that will allow evaluating the activity from its main parties and levels;

Activity measures - it is a question of finding the most appropriate combination between quantitative (volume, sales, market share, etc.) and subjective or qualitative (satisfaction, empathy, etc.) measures;

Objectives - whether the activity is aimed at maintaining the current state and level, to achieve some quantitative change in it, or to innovations;

Deadlines - it is a question of in what time intervals the purposes should be realized and how to coordinate in time.

At the heart of the work of managers are its functions. They are the basis of this work, but their specific content and practical implementation depend on both the acquired skills and the appropriate selection and structure of roles.

Also, the effective work of the manager requires at least three groups of skills. Each of these groups has a different meaning for different levels of management and a different degree of difficulty in mastering them.

Managers at all levels perform three groups and a total of ten different but closely related roles.

Managers in different areas of the organization differ in the time they spend on different functions, in the nature and structure of the required skills, in the content and structure of the roles performed.

The variety of tasks, situations, and problems that arise in the contacts of the manager with subordinates and society as a whole are the main source of challenge to the abilities of the manager. The main principles in building the relationship of the manager within the company are objectivity, attention to subordinates, respect for others and defending their own opinion, assessment of each action from the standpoint of company interests.

Simply put

To do his job well, a manager must have certain basic skills (qualities), whether he is at the lower or higher levels on the career path. Naturally, different levels and areas of management require a complex combination of skills. Managerial skills are important to being a good boss.

Managers are typically skilled in the technical, human, and conceptual realms.

Technical skills are a valuable asset within the company and include knowing how to use tools, techniques, and procedures. This set of skills increases the likelihood that one will be hired for lower-level positions and decreases with seniority.

Insights for working with larger groups of people: the ability to select, guide, and motivate fellow employees, and know what they are good at.

All levels of management need to have humanitarian skills as a large part of their job. Higher-level managers rely on fewer people and subsequently have less interaction with them, but at each level, there’s an emphasis on teamwork.

Conceptual skills are related to the ability to see and understand how different elements of an organization fit together, as well as seeing and understanding how changes in one element will be reflected in other parts.

The four roles of the decision-maker are information role, consent role, authority role, and power for action. The research concludes that the people with a managerial position in an organization are necessary to make decisions.

Managers aspire to improve the firm by implementing changes, but often find themselves reacting to external pressures instead.

Managers are responsible for many tasks. One of the most important is deciding who should take what.

The manager has the right to approve important decisions that should be started by exercising this right.

Managers are in charge of important negotiating decisions. Negotiations with other companies, the government, or even their employees all involve a lot of these negotiations that are an essential part of day-to-day operations and can be handled solely by managers.

Managers without contact with external information cannot disseminate the information that employees need, nor can they make decisions that adequately reflect external conditions.

If you ask managers what they do, the answer will most likely be organizing and managing. 

Managers have little time to perform basic management functions because they are wasted on conversations that can be solved by lower levels of management, problems that can be solved with more focus, and organized communications.

Changing and planning is one of the most time-consuming activities for senior management, while organization and leadership are primarily the domain of middle managers. Grassroots managers' primary responsibility is to enforce authority and control.

Scheduling an effective meeting should follow certain guidelines to avoid any complications: respecting the designated timeline and introductions, making it clear what the focus of the meeting is as well as clarifying any relevant regulations.

About the author

Alexander Jonas, Writer at Business Value-Oriented Principles

Alexander Jonas is a professor and lecturer at the University of Berlin. Author of numerous scientific papers in the field of management and entrepreneurship.

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