Mintzberg’s Managerial Roles
Henry Mintzberg, a renowned academic and author on business and management, identified ten key roles that managers play in organizations. These roles are grouped into three categories: interpersonal roles, informational roles, and decisional roles.
These roles involve interactions with others, including both individuals within the organization and external parties:
- Figurehead: The manager has social, ceremonial, and legal responsibilities. They act as a symbol of the organization, participating in activities such as ribbon-cutting at new facilities or representing the company at a community event.
- Leader: The manager motivates and develops staff, and also manages the performance and responsibilities of everyone in the work unit.
- Liaison: The manager interacts with peers and people outside the organization. The amount of time the manager spends in this area can depend on whether the manager’s team is more self-directed or more reliant on the manager’s direct input and guidance.
These roles involve gathering, processing, and disseminating information:
- Monitor: The manager gathers internal and external information relevant to the organization.
- Disseminator: The manager distributes information to others within the organization. This can involve providing staff with new objectives or policies, or informing them of changes impacting the organization.
- Spokesperson: The manager represents and speaks for the organization to outsiders.
These roles involve making choices:
- Entrepreneur: The manager seeks to innovate and adapt the organization or department to change.
- Disturbance handler: The manager handles unforeseen problems and crises.
- Resource allocator: The manager decides how resources are distributed and with whom they will work most closely.
- Negotiator: The manager negotiates on behalf of the organization.
Mintzberg argued that a manager’s work involves playing all these roles, to varying degrees. The relevance and importance of different roles can depend on factors such as the manager’s position within the organization, the type and size of the organization, and the specific challenges the organization is facing.
Example of Mintzberg’s Managerial Roles
Let’s imagine a manager named Alex, who works at a software company, to illustrate how these roles might be played out in a real-life context.
- Figurehead: Alex attends a local tech conference as a representative of the company, giving a keynote speech about the company’s recent innovations.
- Leader: Alex holds regular meetings with her team to discuss their progress, provides feedback on their work, and helps them set and achieve their personal and professional goals.
- Liaison: Alex maintains a good relationship with the company’s clients, ensuring their needs are met, and also networks with other professionals in the industry to stay informed about the latest trends and developments.
- Monitor: Alex keeps track of her team’s performance metrics and stays informed about industry trends and the activities of competitor companies.
- Disseminator: When the company launches a new software product, Alex ensures her team understands the product’s features and how it can benefit their clients.
- Spokesperson: Alex communicates with the media about her company’s new product launch, explaining its features and benefits to the public.
- Entrepreneur: When Alex realizes that the market needs a software solution that her company doesn’t currently offer, she organizes a team to start developing a new product.
- Disturbance handler: When a major software bug causes a crisis, Alex coordinates the response, deciding which team members will work on fixing the problem and communicating with affected clients to manage their concerns.
- Resource allocator: Alex decides how to distribute the company’s budget among different projects and determines who will work on which projects based on their skills and the company’s needs.
- Negotiator: Alex negotiates contracts with clients and vendors to ensure the best outcome for her company.
These examples demonstrate how a manager may perform the ten roles identified by Mintzberg in a typical work environment. In reality, managers often switch between these roles many times in a single day, depending on what situations arise and what tasks need to be accomplished.