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“A manager’s job can be described from various perspectives: Function, Roles and

Essential Skills”.

Explain how Mintberg’s managerial roles are played while using Kat’s three essential
managerial skills by a manager in performing four functions of his/her job in achieving
organisational goals and objective


For the world to be in this great advancement in technology, healthcare, educations… are
significantly attributed to the multinational organizations across the globe. The success of these
organizations raises a question, “How would these organizations be able to manage their giant
systems in order to achieve such stunning accomplishment?” The answer lies on their great
managers. The managers have sailed these vast ships to success by playing Mintberg’s managerial
roles while using Katz’s three essential managerial skills in performing four managerial functions.

2. Body:

From Mintberg’s closely observation, he concluded that managers play ten different roles in three
basic categories: interpersonal, informational and decisional. A manager's job is varied and
complex. Managers need certain skills to perform the duties and activities associated with being a
manager. What type of skills does a manager need? Research by Robert L. Katz found that
managers needed three essential skills. These are technical, interpersonal and conceptual skills.
Having the skills to play the roles, what managers essentially do is planning, organizing,
controlling and leading. So, how are the managerial roles, skills and functions relate to one
another in an organizational system?

2.1 Managerial roles:

Managers must engage in formulating and implementing task activities related to their positions.
In an attempt to understand the diversity of activities managers must execute, Henry Mintzberg
examined managerial activities on a daily basis. His study enabled him to identify ten different
but, coordinated sets of roles. These ten roles can be separated into three general groupings:
interpersonal roles, informational roles, and decisional roles.

2.1.1 Interpersonal roles:

The three interpersonal roles are primarily concerned with interpersonal relationships.

Figurehead role

The figurehead role is enacted when activity of a ceremonial nature is required within the
organization. An example is the head chef of a prominent restaurant greeting customers at the
door. While the figurehead role is routine, with little serious communication and no important
decision making, its importance should not be overlooked. “At the interpersonal level, it provides
members and non-members alike with a sense of what the organization is about and the type of
people the organization recruits.” (, viewed on 21
Leader roles

The leader role is to inspiring and motivating employees to achieve organizational goals
effectively. According to European Management which shows a vivid example of the significance
of leader in Interpersonal role, in the success of Welch, Barnevik and Branson, the three people
know how to exert their best leader role. They recognize the importance of their roles as
cheerleaders, coaches and mentors. They changed the way their subordinates work in their
respective companies by changing their attitude. Furthermore, they instilled in their employees a
kind of pride that goes beyond the monetary games.

Liaison role:

“Quite often, managers are required to obtain information or resources outside their authority.
The liaison role is enacted when managers make contact with other individuals, who may or
may not reside in the organization, in order to complete the work performed by their
departments or work units” (, viewed on 21 March).
An interior designer contacts with a statistic company to figure out a new craze. Ultimately, the
liaison role enables a manager to develop a network for obtaining external information
which can be useful for completing current and future work activities. It maintains work
flow of the organization.

2.1.2 Informational roles:

The three informational roles are primarily concerned with the information aspects of managerial
work. Monitor, disseminator, and spokesperson are the three informational roles that a manager
may assume. These informational roles are created to deal with informational activities. It is
responsible for gathering, receiving, and transmitting information that concerns the

Monitor role

A manager assumes the monitor role by continually seeking information or activities and
events that may identify opportunities or threats to the functioning of the organization.
Much of the manager's gathering of information is achieved through the network of contacts
that has been established through the interpersonal roles. Learning through casual
conversation at a golf game, or daily reading are all examples of the kinds of information
gathering involved in the monitor role.

Disseminator role

The information gathered must be assessed, evaluated and transmitted accordingly to

members of the organization. That is when disseminator role comes in. The manager may inform
the marketing vice-president about the specific marketing strategy a competitor is planning to
execute. Or reading The Wall Street Journal may inform the manager that a recession is looming
and thus enable him to inform subordinates that temporary layoffs may occur.

Spokesperson role

Occasionally, a manager must assume the spokesperson role by speaking on behalf of the work
unit to people outside the organization. This might involve representing the organization’s
policies and purposes. A spokesperson may present the educational sponsoring for a university
in an attempt to polish the organizational image and recruit potential employees.

2.1.3 Decisional roles:

There are four decisional roles which are regarded as the most important set roles among: the
decisional roles of entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, and negotiator.

Entrepreneur role:

The entrepreneur role comes in when the manager wants to improve the work unit. This can be
accomplished by adapting new techniques for a particular situation or modifying old
techniques to improve individual or group activity. Managers usually learn of new or
innovative methods through information gathered in the monitor role. A president establishes
a new pension plan to improve employee morale.

Disturbance handler role:

The disturbance handler role establishes the manager as a responder to adverse change.
Organizations, unfortunately, do not run so smoothly that managers are expected to be staying
alert to react to the change. In these cases, the manager is required to act quickly to bring
stability back to the organization. A personnel director must negotiate with striking employees
dissatisfied with the procedures for laying off employees.

Resource allocator role:

The resource allocator role is assumed when it comes to decide how resource is distributed.
Resources may include money, time, power, equipment, or people... In most cases,
organizations are under conditions of resource scarcity; thus, decisions on the allocation of
resources can be critical for the success of the organization. The manager must strive not only
to appropriately match resources with subordinates but also to maximize the available resource.
American president Barack Obama must allocate finite monetary package wisely to the American
industries to help American economy get over the economic recession.

Negotiator role:

The role of negotiator is assumed when it comes to negotiation. The negotiator will request
particular needs on behalf of the organization for the organization. For instance, the president
of a real estate company will negotiate to get a more affordable price of constructional materials.
2.2 Managerial Skills:

Managers need certain skills to perform the duties and activities associated with being a
manager. Katz once said that what a manager can accomplish is based on the skills that the
manager possesses. What type of skills does a manager need? Research by Robert L. Katz found
that managers needed three essential skills. These are technical, interpersonal and conceptual

Technical skills:

Technical skills are the most fundamental type of skills. Technical skills provide an individual
with expertise to perform specialized tasks within a specific work domain (Byrd et al., 2004;
Maimon, 1986). In fact, it is technical competence by an individual is a prerequisite for
promotion rather than managerial knowledge and competencies (Hill, 2003; Rosen et al,
1976; Stumpf and London, 1981). O’neal (1985, p. 51) stated that without these fundamental
skills, “managers cannot effectively plan, direct, control, or assess work activities”.

Interpersonal skills:

Interpersonal skills are defined as the ability to work cooperatively with others, to
communicate effectively, to resolve conflict, and to be a team player. “Human skills are
primarily concerned with people” (Katz, 1955). It consists of teamwork, dealing with conflict,
communications, and creating organizational climate. According to Mann (1965),
Interpersonal skills include an understanding of behavioral principles, interpersonal relations,
motivation, and communication.

Conceptual skills:

Conceptual skills is the ability to use information to solve business problems, identification of
opportunities for innovation, recognizing problem areas and implementing solutions,
selecting critical information from masses of data, understanding the business utilization of
technology, understanding the organization's business model. While technical skills focus on
things and human skills focus on people, conceptual skills focus on ideas and concepts (Yukl,
2.3 Managerial Functions:

With the armed skills, managers are able to function effectively and efficiently.

Planning function:

The initial managerial function- determining what should be done in the future-is called
planning. It consists of setting goals, objectives, policies, and other plans needed to achieve the
purposes of the organization. In planning, the manager chooses a course of action through various
alternatives. Planning is primarily conceptual. It means thinking before acting, looking ahead and
preparing for the future. Not only does planning include deciding what, how, when, and by who
works to be done, but it must also include “what if” scenarios.

Organising function:

Once plan has been made, the question, “how will the work divided and accomplished?” arises.
The supervisor must specify various job duties, assign them and give subordinates the
authority they need to carry out their tasks. Organizing means arranging and distributing
work among members of the work unit to accomplish the organizational goals.

Leading function

Leading means guiding the activities of employees toward accomplishing objectives. The
leading function of management involves guiding, teaching, and supervising, subordinates.
This includes developing employees to their potential by directing and coaching those employees
effectively. It is to increase employees’ morale, job satisfaction and at the same time achieve
the objectives of the department. Leader role is played in leading function.

Controlling function:

Controlling may come last in the process of management. Controlling ensures that actual
performance is in line with intended performance and taking corrective action. As the
organizations move towards it goals, managers must monitor the progress to ensure that it will
arrive at its “destination” at the appointed time. Controlling function would be carried out by
technical skills

The significance of management is well above mentioned – it is undeniable and indispensable for
an organization’s success. The art of management consists of the three skills, the ten roles and the
four functions. The three set of components are perfectly aligned and thus bring success to any
individual manager who possesses them from all level of management. Conceptual skills
facilitate a manager to play decisional role in planning function and organizing function as it
provide him a broader vision, perspective, understanding and various alternatives when it
comes to solve a business problem, to indentifying opportunities…etc. Interpersonal skills
facilitate a manager to play interpersonal role in leading function as it provides him the art of
dealing with man: communication, handling conflict, morale boosting…etc. Technical skills
help a manager to play his informational role skill as once information is gathered, it needs to be
assessed and evaluated; thus technical skills is prerequisite to analyze a new stream of
information. Technical skills enable a manager to carry out controlling function as a manager
must monitor organization’s progress.


In the nutshell, Managerial sets of skills, roles and functions are three sets of constituent of
management which are extremely well linked. A competent manager must possess the skills to
play the roles in performing the functions. By fulfilling that, the organization will ultimately
improve the overall productivity and therefore achieving the incredibly dazzling success across
the world.

Byrd, TA., Lewis, B.R. and Turner, D.E. (2004), “The impact of IT personal skills on IS
infrastructure and competitive IS”, Information Resource Management Journal, Vol. 17 No.2, pp.

Chris van Overveen - Senior Consultant Trimitra Consultants Management Articles

(, viewed on 21 March).

Hill, L.A (2003), Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of leadership,
2nd ed., Harvard Business School Press, Boston ,MA.

Jack Welch, chairman and CEO of General Electric, 1982

Maimon, Z.(1986), “Business studies and the development of managerial skills”, Studies in
Educational Evaluation, Vol.6 No. 1, pp. 83-97

Mann, F.C (1965), “Toward an understanding of the leadership role in formal organization”, in
Dubin, R., Romans, G.C, Mann, F.C. and Miller, D.C. (Eds), Leadership and Productivity,
Chandler Publishing, San Francisco, CA, pp.68-103

O’Neal, M.A. (1985), “Managerial skills and values – for today and tomorrow”, Personnel, Vol.
62 No.7, pp.49-55.

Percy Barnevik, ABB, created a $30 billion giant with a portfolio covering global market, 1987

Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin, one of top five brand names in the UK, 1972

Katz, R.L. (1955), “Skill of an effective administrator”, Harvard Business Review, Vol.33 No. 1,

Yukl, G. (2002), Leadership in Organization, 5th ed., Prentice-Hal, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Leaders Who Make A Difference European Management Journal Vol14 No 5 October 1996