The Manager's Job: Folklore and Fact by dMm2l3jw


									977030f4-8fd3-47f9-abe5-666b4698d4bd.doc                                                   1

                  The Manager's Job: Folklore and Fact
              H. Mintzberg, Harvard Business Review, July – August 1975
                                Summary by Feng Zhu

Mintzberg was born in Montreal in 1939 and graduated in mechanical engineering from
McGill University where he now teaches. He is a prolific author and in many of his books
his belief in the importance of practical knowledge is readily apparent.

Key Phenomenon
Mintzberg addresses the basic question “What do managers do?”, which he believed was
not well captured in the then popular description of managers as proposed by Henry
Fayol - that of the manager as planner, organizer, coordinator and controller.

Key Concepts

   Some of the folklore and facts:

1. Folklore: The manager is a reflective, systematic planner.
   Fact: Study after study has shown that managers work at an unrelenting pace,
   that their activities are characterized by brevity, variety and discontinuity, and
   that they are strongly orientated towards action and dislike reflective
2. Folklore: The effective manager has no regular duties to perform.
   Fact: In addition to handling exceptions, managerial work involves
   performing a number of regular duties, including ritual and ceremony,
   negotiations, and processing soft information that links the organization with
   its environment.
3. Folklore: The senior manager needs aggregated information, which a formal
   management-information system best provides.
   Fact: Managers strongly favor the verbal media - namely telephone calls and
   meetings. This was supported by numerous studies, which found that the mail
   received by managers often did not receive the action oriented type of
   information they valued. In fact, managers often seem to cherish gossip and
   hearsay as having the potential to be the next days truth.
4. Folklore: Management is, or at least is quickly becoming, a science and a
   Fact: The managers' program - to schedule time, process information, make
   decisions, and so on - remain locked deep inside their brains.

   Ten roles pivotal to managers
        Interpersonal roles
                i. Figurehead (every manager must perform some duties of
                   ceremonial nature)
               ii. Leader (responsible for the work of the people of that unit)
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                 iii. Liaison (the manager makes contacts outside his vertical chain
                      of command)
             Informational roles
                   i. Monitor (scans his environment for information, interrogates
                      his liaison contacts and his subordinates, and receives
                      unsolicited information)
                  ii. Disseminator (shares and distributes information)
                 iii. Spokesman (sends some of the information to people outside
                      his unit)
             Decisional roles
                   i. Entrepreneur (seeks to improve his unit and to adapt it to
                      changing conditions in the environment)
                  ii. Disturbance handler (involuntarily responding to pressures)
                 iii. Resource allocator (decides who will receive what in his
                 iv. Negotiator (an integral part of the manager’s job, for only he
                      has the authority to commit organizational resources in ‘real
                      time’, and only he has the nerve-center information that
                      important negotiations require)

These roles cannot be easily separated from each other, and are part of the
integrated job of the manager.

      Three specific areas of concern

     i.   The manager is challenged to find systematic ways to share his privileged
    ii.   The manager is challenged to deal consciously with the pressure of superficiality
          by giving serious attention to the issues that require it, by stepping back from his
          tangible bits of information in order to see a broad picture, and by making use of
          analytical inputs.
 iii.     The manager is challenged to gain control of his own time by turning obligations
          to his advantage and by turning those things he wishes to do into obligations.

Methodology and Data Collection
The paper is based on author’s own study involving five American CEOs of middle-to
larger-sized organizations – a consulting firm, a technology company, a hospital, a
consumer-goods company, and a school system. Using a method called “structural
observation”, the author recorded various aspects of every piece of mail and every verbal
contacts during one week of observation for each executive. (In all, 890 pieces of
incoming and outgoing mail and 368 verbal contacts.)

In addition, the author cites many results from previous studies by other people in the
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Major Contributions
   The author presents four myths of the time and then debunks these myths with the
    hard evidence of research.
   The author proposes ten roles which he believes are essential to the manager's job.
   The author presents implications for his material for those wish to achieve more
    effective management, both in the classroom and the business setting.

Relevance to Practice of Management
   Training of managers
       o Management schools will begin the serious training of managers when skill
           training takes a serious place next to cognitive learning.
       o The manager needs to be introspective about his work so that he may continue
           to learn on the job.
   Research on managerial work
       o The manager's job is vital to the optimum functioning of our society, and
           much more research would be needed to further study the many aspects of
           managerial activities.
       o Little research has been done on the manager’s work, and virtually no
           systematic building up of knowledge from one group of studies to another.
       o In seeking to describe managerial work, some studies were concerned with the
           characteristics of the work, while others were more concerned with the
           essential content of the work.

-   Scope: only 5 CEOs studied by the author

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