Mintzberg's Management Roles

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.

Mintzberg’s Management Roles

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.

Mintzberg’s Management Roles - Interpersonal Roles

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.

Mintzberg’s Management Roles - Informational Roles

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.

Mintzberg’s Management Roles - Decisional Roles

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.

Disturbance Handler
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.

Resource Allocator
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.

Key Points

  • Mintzberg's Management Roles cover ten tasks and responsibilities that a manager may need to perform.
  • These are divided up into three categories: interpersonal, informational, and decisional.
  • Interpersonal roles include: figurehead, leader and liaison.
  • Informational roles include: monitor, disseminator and spokesperson.
  • Decisional roles include: entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, and negotiator.
  • 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.
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