the Roles and Functions of Management

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Management is defined differently by different people, but for this paper, it is "the process of getting things done, effectively and efficiently, through and with other people." Management, as a process, accomplishes critical functions in a regular order. Efficiency indicates that the activity is completed correctly and at the lowest possible resource cost, whereas effectiveness means that the task is completed correctly, resulting in the organization meeting its objectives. Furthermore, because all of this is done through and with people, managers cannot function in isolation and must involve all organizational members. Managers have three types of roles, according to Mintzberg: interpersonal, informational, and decisional. Management performs four primary functions planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Therefore, this concept paper examines the three primary roles of management as well as expounding on the four functions of management.

The Roles of Management

The interpersonal roles emanate from the fact that the manager has formal authority and their focus is the essential interpersonal relationships within the organization. Managers play three roles in an interpersonal perspective; a figurehead, leader, and liaison. The figurehead role shows that the manager is the symbolic leader of the organization and involves carrying out ceremonial duties. Mintzberg (1997) gives examples of such ceremonial duties as touring any dignitaries who visit and signing legal documents. The leader roles mean that a manager is solely responsible for the work performed in their unit. Robbins, Coulter, & DeCenzo (2008) point out that managers are responsible for motivating, staffing, and training employees to enable them to perform their duties efficiently and effectively. In this role, the manager must influence people through motivation and link the organizational goals to the daily individual tasks t. In the liaison role, the manager develops networks outside the chain of command, that is, with outsiders and informers with the aim of getting favors and information. Mintzberg (1997) argues that managers will seek to spend time with members outside their units as well as with their superiors. Activities include acknowledgment of roles, meeting outside board members, and attending events to meet with outsiders.

The informational roles arise from the fact that a manager has a broad range of networks and consequently, he or she is the nerve center of the organization. In the capacity, the manager is the monitor, disseminator, and spokesperson. In the monitor role, the manager actively seeks and receive a full array of information. Robbins, Coulter, & DeCenzo (2008) points out that such information is useful in developing an understanding of the internal and external environment and act as an information hub. The monitor role is of great significance in the current volatile and complex business environment, and managers always seek new information on emerging trends that may cause disruptions in their industry. As a disseminator, the manager transmits valuable information collected from other members to the subordinates regarding their tasks or the position of the organization on pertinent issues. It involves holding meetings and making calls to relay information to other members. As a spokesperson, the manager transmits organizational information regarding plans, policies, and results to outsiders. These outsiders include the board of directors, consumer groups, government officials, and the implication is that a manager must have an understanding of the daily operations of the organization.

A manager plays a crucial role in the decision-making process within an organization. Since management holds formal authority, they have the responsibility of leading a unit of a new course of action. Also, as the nerve center, managers possess relevant information for decision-making and strategy setting. Management’s decisional roles are an entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, and negotiator. As entrepreneurs, manager’s primary focus is to improve the unit and make it more flexible and adaptable to the dynamic environment, that is, act as voluntary initiators of change (Mintzberg 1997). The entrepreneurial role also involves the search for new ideas and opportunities, and develop plans to take advantage. In the disturbance handler role, managers respond to pressures, mostly from the external environment. For instance, the bankruptcy of a major customer is outside the control of the manager, but an action is needed. Therefore, management has responsibility for initiating corrective action in the face of disturbances or crises. According to O’Connell, Delaney, & Moriarty (2015), an example of disturbance is the digital disruption wave as new technologies continue to threaten the established business models.

As the resource allocator, management determines the best approach for allocating the organizational resources and determine which units will get what. It involves coming up with the design of the various group structures, patterns for formal relationships, and deciding on the sharing and coordination of tasks. Resource allocation requires the authorization of critical decisions before implementation in efforts to facilitate continuity in decision-making as well as an integrated strategy. Resource allocation activities include the budgeting process, the design of employee’s work, and scheduling. As a negotiator, the manager acts as the lead negotiator for the organization. Mintzberg (1997) points out that managers spend significant time in negotiations and it ensures that the organization commits its resources in areas that hold great promise for higher returns.

It is important to point out that these ten roles are not separate, but in the words of Mintzberg (1997), they form an integrated whole. Therefore, it is not possible to split a managerial job into interpersonal, informational, and decisional and assign each to separate individuals. The process of management is full of challenges, and one issue that limits effectiveness is the fact that as a nerve center, managers hold vital information and in most situations, they will fail to share it with the rest of the organizational members. Therefore, improving the effectiveness of management requires the sharing of privileged information and adopting “the big picture” approach to avoid spending time addressing superficial issues.

The Primary Functions of Management


According to Robbins et al. (2008), planning involves defining an organization's objectives and or goals, establishing the overall strategy to achieve them, and developing a comprehensive hierarchy of plans for integration and coordination of activities. Planning can take two forms: informal where the goals are not written down and formal planning (standard approach) where an organization puts down its plans in written form. Schraeder, Self, Jordan, & Portis (2014) point out that it is through planning that an organization establishes its direction, and it embodies problem solving and decision making.

Planning sets the direction, minimizes waste and redundancy, establishes standards (objectives) for the control function, and mitigates the impact of change. Also, it reduces uncertainty because managers adopt a future outlook to foresee any change, assess its likely impact, and initiate suitable responses. The different types of plans include strategic or tactical, long term or short term, and directional or specific.

The first step in planning is to set objectives, and these might be for the entire organization or each department. Objectives must be stated and understandable by all organizational members. The development of a premise is the second stage of planning. A premise is an assumption(s) made about the uncertain future, and they are the foundation for making plans, an example is forecasting.

The identification of the alternative courses of action is the third step, either routine or innovative. The next step is evaluating the alternative course of actions and managers by carefully considering their impact on the organization. The manager must then select the most suitable course of action. Critical decision making is essential in choosing an ideal plan. After selection, the management puts the plan into action by involving other organizational members, and in this process, problem solving is required to address any deviations.

After setting the objectives, the organization develops a strategy to help in achieving the goals and objectives. The managers go through the strategic management process where they identify the vision and objectives, scan both its internal and external environment to identify its strengths, core competencies, formulate the strategies which might be grand, growth, stability, or retrenchment. The management then implements the formulated strategies to achieve the set goals and objectives.


Organizing involves the determining the organizational tasks; the appropriate people carry them out, their grouping, the reporting channels, and the making of decisions. An organizational structure defines the organizational tasks. A structure shows a chain of command which shows all the organizational levels and shows the various levels to whom subordinates report (unity of command). Organizing operates the concepts of authority (right to give orders and expect obedience) and responsibility where a lower level employee must perform the duties assigned. A manager will delegate responsibility to the subordinates and expect compliance.

Organizing also determines at what level are decisions made. Robbins et al. (2008) identify two systems of decision-making, centralization, and decentralization.

In a centralized system, the decision-making is at higher levels of an organization are pushed to the lower organizational levels. In the decentralized system, the decision-making is pushed down to the level that has a higher understanding of the problem. In the 20th century, the top management made most of the decisions and expected adherence from the subordinates. A decentralized system gives decision-making to the people closest to the problem.

Organizing also deals with the grouping of organizational activities. Departments group the activities, and it is either on the basis of functions the product offered, the customers, the different processes, or geographical location. However, this system has been categorized as too rigid and to improve flexibility, and organizations are doing away with these systems. For instance, in an organization, activities or tasks are grouped into functions such as accounting, marketing, and production.

Organizing also determines the appropriate people to perform the organizational tasks. Managers perform employment planning where they assess their current and future human resource needs and most importantly, develop a program to meet the identified needs. Carrying out current assessment involves performing a job analysis, and developing a job description as well as job specification. A crucial role of management is recruitment where capable applicants are located, identified, and attracted to fill in the identified needs. After recruitment, managers select job candidates, and they screen job applicants to ensure that they hire the most appropriate candidate. An interview is the most common selection technique used by used by organizations. After selection, the management orientates, trains, and develops the identified applicants.


Leading involves motivation of the employees, directing the activities of others, developing effective communication channels, and conflict management. McNamara (2009, p.71) argues that it also requires the manager to focus less on managing but more on leading as well as concentrate on developing leaders within the organization. Managers have at their disposal several motivational theories on which they can use to motivate their employees. Managers have to identify the needs and the motivators of their employees. It is important to understand that different employees have different motivators and an effective manager will address the various cultural needs. In the current contemporary organizations, the workforce has evolved, and according to Ouye (2016), employees value flexibility in their tasks, and managers must give the subordinates autonomy as they perform their duties.

Directing the activities of the subordinates is an integral part of leading. Most organizations use teams to perform their duties, and a manager is responsible for ensuring that they are effective. However, it is challenging to develop high-performing teams and managers must encourage and inspire individuals to forego their self-interest for the best of the organization. The manager also directs the team efforts to the overall goals.

Managers cannot ignore the importance of effective communication. To enhance communication, managers must allow feedback from their subordinates, listen actively, constrain their motions, allow for smooth interaction with other members, and work towards the clarification of roles and duties. The leading role also involves managing conflict, and according to Robbins et al. (2008), a manager must understand the various sources of conflict within the organization. The goal is to reach a win-win situation where the conflicting parties arrive at a compromise. Managers must decide when to ask the parties to collaborate, accommodate each other, or even avoid the confrontation altogether.


Control is the managerial function that monitors activities, seeks to ensure that they are being performed as planned, and initiate corrective action to address the deviations. The process of control involves establishing standards, measuring the actual performance with the standards, and correcting the deviations. Management has the role of developing an effective control system, whose sole focus is facilitating the achievement of goals. There are three types of control systems: market, bureaucratic, and clan.

Determining actual performance requires measuring, and managers can use observation and various reports such as statistical. After identifying deviations, the management can either do nothing, take corrective action, or revise the standards. Corrective action can either be immediate or basic. Immediate action means that the identified problem is corrected at once while basic involves investigating reasons for the lower performance and then develop strategies to address the source of the deviation. Revising the standard means that the management changes the standards and not the performance, and the argument is that the standard was unrealistic from the very beginning.

Managers can use a feedforward, concurrent, or output control system. The concurrent system takes corrective action as the problem happens while the feed forward system seeks to anticipate the problem before it occurs. On the other hand, feedback control takes corrective action as the problems occur. Feedback control is better than the other two because it involves the employees as well as being a source of relevant information on the effectiveness of management’s planning.

In conclusion, management is a process that seeks to get things done with and through people. Managers perform interpersonal, informational, and decisional roles. Also, the management is responsible for planning, organizing, leading, and controlling and these four functions are not separate but are integrated. These roles and functions work towards the achievement of the organizational goals and the vision.


McNamara, D. E. (2011). From Fayols mechanistic to todays organic functions of management. American Journal of Business Education (AJBE), 2(1), 63-78

Mintzberg, H. (1997). The manager’s job: Folklore and fact. Leadership: Understanding the dynamics of power and influence in organizations, 35-53

O’Connell, K., Delaney, K., & Moriarty, R. (2015). Digital business transformation: Disrupt to win. Retrieved from

Ouye, J. (2016). Five Trends that Are Dramatically Changing Work and the Workplace. New Ways of Working., pp.1-10. Retrieved from:

Robbins, S. P., DeCenzo, D. A., & Coulter, M. K. (2008). Fundamentals of management: Essential concepts and applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall

Schraeder, M., Self, D. R., Jordan, M. H., & Portis, R. (2015). The functions of management as mechanisms for fostering interpersonal trust. Advances in Business Research, 5(1), 50-62

May 24, 2023
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