What roles should a manager play?
Professor H. Mintzberg is a Canadian who owes his breakthrough to his observations and to his description of the difference between what managers say they do and what they actually do. He is a humble man with great ideas. His aim is to develop mainly “practical” managers. For this purpose he created his own management training school, which now has an excellent reputation!
Mintzberg's school is the result of his studies and his criticism of MBA students. He claimed that they are too oriented to solving business cases but do not know enough about the real world. He wants managers to meet and talk with clients in order to understand what they want.
Before we review his work as a manager, we will outline his views on organisation and strategy.
Organisational structures should be small, in order to react better to the customer. They will be more CSR oriented and less involved with internal politics. Mintzberg is unrelenting regarding strategy. He claims you cannot predict the future as the world changes too much and too fast. Strategy is also too formal. To determine a good strategy you should be present on the field and use your creativity to look at the future.
Management seen by Henry Mintzberg.
After he had debunked some myths, the professor came up with ten recommendations for the roles a manager should occupy. He divided these roles into three categories: interpersonal contact, how to deal with information, and finally decision taking.
- The manager should be a leader. This means that he/she should be as engaged as possible, assuming responsibility for every person carrying out his/her tasks and responsibilities
- The manager should be a liaison officer between the people in the organisation and outside the company.
- He or she should also be the representative of the company to the outside world.
Regarding information, managers must:
- Make sure they capture all the necessary information
- Share their knowledge with their colleagues
- Be spokespersons for the organisation
Finally, in the decision process, managers must initiate and manage change. They should also be the allocator of resources (money, time, people). As managers, they should solve problems, especially the challenges coming from outside. In conclusion, a manager must be the negotiator between all the different parties, be it inside - or outside - the organisation.
Mintzberg advises that, in order to fulfil all these roles, a manager must be able to collect and spread information in a systematic manner. They have to be able to deal with pressure. Advice from the outside can be useful. According to Minztberg, managers must be able to change obligations into advantages and what they think is important into obligations.
Mintzberg concluded that intuition is important and, therefore, management cannot be taught to people who are not managers – at least not in a school, through theory lessons.
The least we can say about Henry Mintzberg is that he was not afraid to challenge already existing opinions!