What the Managers Really Do


Managers are in charge of teams, resources, and decision-making. They are also responsible for motivating, guiding, and evaluating employees.

Mintzberg’s functional analysis of management provides a valuable framework for researchers to analyze managers. His three categories – figurehead, leader, and liaison – help identify what managers do. The key is to communicate effectively with your managers.

1. They Communicate

Managers are responsible for informing employees of changes that may affect them and conveying the company’s vision and purpose. They must also be able to select the best employees for the organization and provide them with the training they need to be successful.

Managers must also be able to identify market trends and understand how these can affect the business. They must be able to communicate these insights to other managers and teams in the company.

According to Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management, managers have four interrelated functions: planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. No one person is equally skilled in all of these roles, but every company needs someone who can manage and motivate others to accomplish the organization’s goals. Managers are also responsible for creating an environment where employees want to work and can meet the challenges of the business world. This includes fostering innovation, encouraging employees to think outside the box, and taking risks. Managers are also concerned with team morale, which can have a direct impact on productivity and quality control.

2. They Make Decisions

Managers use decisions to guide their teams and departments toward success. The quality and effectiveness of these decisions determine how well an organization operates. The decision-making process involves evaluating situations or problems, considering alternatives, making choices, and taking action. The types of decisions managers make fall into two distinct categories: personal and organizational. Individual choices are related to the manager’s own life and cannot be delegated to subordinates, such as what they eat for lunch or how they commute to work. Organizational decisions relate to the company’s policies and operations, such as setting production targets or investing in new technology.

To make a good decision, a manager must consider all the information available to him or her. This may include analyzing data, consulting with other people, or running simulations. Managers often weigh the evidence, which could consist of insights from market research, financial data, or gut instinct, to select a course of action that’s most likely to succeed. This is known as the satisficing principle, where managers strive to make the best decision possible given the information and resources at hand.

3. They Set Goals

Managers make decisions about how to allocate resources and then develop plans to accomplish those goals. They also set performance goals for themselves and their teams.

The goal-setting process is a critical part of being a manager because it helps people stay focused on what they need to do. It gives people a sense of accomplishment as they work toward their goals. This is especially important if the goals are challenging but not impossible. Goals that are too easy can leave employees unmotivated, while those that are too difficult can cause them to question their ability and feel unable to complete the task.

A good manager sets goals that leverage their team’s strengths and skills. They may even help them identify and develop new strengths, suggests Anne Shoemaker, an executive coach in Greensboro, North Carolina.

4. They Coach

Great managers don’t just direct and delegate; they coach. They encourage their employees to learn by allowing them space for curiosity, honesty, and openness. They teach by guiding and listening to help employees problem-solve on their own. They also show their support by giving constructive feedback and empowering employees to be leaders themselves.

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5. They Encourage

Like the plate spinner in a circus, managers are constantly trying to keep multiple plates spinning on sticks without one crashing to the floor. Their days are filled with meetings, emails, and phone calls that focus on daily operations, and they rarely have a day to themselves outside of work.

Managers also know that the best way to motivate their employees is to give them independence and trust that they can get the job done. This is why effective managers are good listeners and show they value their employees’ input by holding regular ones.

In addition, when something personal impacts an employee’s ability to perform at work, a good manager will address it. For example, suppose an employee is struggling to complete a deadline due to a family crisis or a health issue. In that case, a manager should be receptive and provide reasonable accommodations where possible. This shows that a manager cares about their team and will go the extra mile to keep them motivated. This is the type of leader that every business wants.