The classical view says that the manager organizes, coordinates, plans, and controls; the facts indicate otherwise.

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The classic view says that the manager organizes, coordinates, plans, and controls; the facts indicate otherwise.


The timeless view says that the manager organizes, coordinates, plans, and controls; the facts imply otherwise.


What, exactly, do you do? as a manager, it’s difficult to say. The textbook answer offered to be: plan, organize, coordinate, and also control. Yet down in the trenches, the manager’s project has always been far an ext complicated. In fact, you play so plenty of roles, it’s hard to excel at any one. The pressure of the job can drive friend to:

take it on too much work operate with continuous interruptions answers prematurely to facility events act quite than think make decisions without see the large picture.

So, what’s a manager to do? How deserve to you conquer these too familiar managerial pressures and demands? find out to tackle head on the demons of superficiality and fragmentation by stepping back to see the wider landscape in which you operate.

The Idea in practice

What supervisors Really execute

Whether you space a super or CEO, her success hinges very first on recognizing the variety of duties you’re intended to perform.

Interpersonal functions

Figurehead—You stand for your team to your organization and the neighborhood at large. Leader—You hire, train, and also motivate employees. Liaison—You maintain contact with colleagues and also stakeholders external your immediate chain of command.

Informational functions

Monitor—You leverage your personal network come scan the setting for critical information. Disseminator—You feed information to subordinates who absence your access to vital data. Spokesperson—You administer information on instead of of your unit to an elderly management and also outside organizations.

Decisional duties

Entrepreneur—You initiate projects to improve your unit’s procedures or profits. Disturbance Handler—You control crises resulted in by precipitated by employees, customers, suppliers, systems, or accidents. Resource Allocator—You decide who will obtain what, name: coordinates the affect of interrelated decisions, and allocate managerial time. Negotiator—You use strategic information to deal with grievances, create contracts, and also promote common decisions.

Becoming a much more Effective Manager

Navigating such varied roles have the right to leave you feeling fragmented and also overwhelmed, jumping from problem to worry without the huge picture in mind. Girlfriend can overcome the obstacles of your plenty of responsibilities with introspection and insight. This guidelines can help:

Be conscious of the roles you normally prefer. Stretch past those you’re most comfortable in, depending on what the instance demands. alleviate your difficult workload by giving subordinates the information they should be much more self-sufficient. avoid superficial decision making by taking advantage of professional analysts. pressure yourself to carry out the things you think are important. If reflection is critical, schedule the on her calendar. If you value innovation, make certain that those that lead brand-new ventures report earlier to you.

If girlfriend ask managers what they do, they will most most likely tell you that they plan, organize, coordinate, and also control. Climate watch what lock do. Nothing be surprised if you can’t relate what you check out to this words.

When a manager is told the a factory has just burned down and then advises the caller to check out whether short-term arrangements deserve to be made to supply customers v a international subsidiary, is that manager planning, organizing, coordinating, or controlling? How around when he or she presents a yellow watch come a retiring employee? Or attends a conference to meet people in the trade and returns through an interesting new product idea because that employees come consider?

These 4 words, which have overcame management vocabulary since the French industrialist Henri Fayol first introduced them in 1916, phone call us small about what managers actually do. At best, they suggest some vague missions managers have when they work.

The field of management, so specialized to progress and change, has actually for more than half a century not seriously handle the straightforward question: What do managers do? without a appropriate answer, how deserve to we teach management? How can we style planning or details systems for managers? How have the right to we boost the exercise of management at all?

Our ignorance that the nature of managerial work shows up in various ways in the modern organization—in boasts through successful managers who never spent a solitary day in a administration training program; in the turnover of this firm planners who never ever quite construed what it was the manager wanted; in the computer system consoles gathering dust in the back room due to the fact that the managers never provided the fancy on-line MIS part analyst thought they needed. Perhaps most important, our ignorance reflects up in the inability of our large public organizations to pertained to grips with several of their most serious plan problems.

Somehow, in the sirloin to automate production, to use management science in the functional areas of marketing and finance, and to apply the skills of the behavior scientist to the trouble of worker motivation, the manager—the human being in charge of the company or one of its subunits—has to be forgotten.

I intend to break the reader away indigenous Fayol’s words and introduce a more supportable and also useful summary of managerial work. This summary derives from mine review and synthesis of study on just how various managers have spent their time.

In some studies, managers were it was observed intensively; in a number of others, castle kept comprehensive diaries; in a couple of studies, their records were analyzed. Every kinds of supervisors were studied—foremen, factory supervisors, employee managers, ar sales managers, hospital administrators, presidents of companies and also nations, and even street gang leaders. These “managers” operated in the unified States, Canada, Sweden, and an excellent Britain.

A synthetic of this findings paints an amazing picture, one as various from Fayol’s timeless view as a cubist abstract is from a Renaissance painting. In a sense, this photo will be evident to anyone who has ever before spent a work in a manager’s office, either in front of the workdesk or behind it. Yet, in ~ the very same time, this picture throws right into doubt lot of the folklore the we have actually accepted around the administer work.

Folklore and Facts about Managerial work-related

There are 4 myths around the manager’s job that do not bear up under cautious scrutiny the the facts.

Folklore: The manager is a reflective, methodical planner. The evidence on this worry is overwhelming, but not a shred of it supports this statement.

Fact: research after research has presented that managers work at an unrelenting pace, that their activities are characterized by brevity, variety, and discontinuity, and also that they room strongly oriented to action and dislike reflective activities. consider this evidence:

Half the tasks engaged in by the five chief executives of my examine lasted less than ripe minutes, and only 10% surpassed one hour.1 A research of 56 U.S. Foremen discovered that they averaged 583 activities per eight-hour shift, an median of 1 every 48 seconds.2 The job-related pace for both chef executives and foremen was unrelenting. The chef executives met a stable stream that callers and also mail indigenous the minute they come in the morning till they left in the evening. Coffee breaks and lunches to be inevitably job-related related, and ever-present subordinates appeared to usurp any complimentary moment.

A diary research of 160 brother middle and top managers discovered that they functioned without interruption for a half hour or an ext only about once every two days.3

Of the verbal contacts the chief executives in my study engaged in, 93% to be arranged on an ad hoc basis. Only 1% the the executives’ time was spent in open-ended observational tours. Only 1 out of 368 linguistic contacts to be unrelated to a certain issue and could thus be called general planning. One more researcher found that “in not one single case go a manager report obtaining vital external details from a basic conversation or other undirected personal communication.”4

Is this the planner that the classical view describes? Hardly. The manager is simply responding come the pressure of the job. I discovered that my chief executives terminated plenty of of their very own activities, frequently leaving meetings before the end, and interrupted their workdesk work to call in subordinates. One president not only inserted his desk so the he could look down a long hallway but also left his door open as soon as he was alone—an invite for subordinates come come in and also interrupt him.

Clearly, these managers wanted to encourage the flow of existing information. But an ext significantly, they appeared to it is in conditioned by your own job-related loads. They evaluate the opportunity expense of their own time, and also they to be continually aware of your ever-present obligations—mail to it is in answered, callers to to visit to, and also so on. It seems that a manager is always plagued by the possibilities that what can be done and what must be done.

When managers must plan, they it seems to be ~ to execute so implicitly in the context of daily actions, not in part abstract procedure reserved for two weeks in the organization’s hill retreat. The to plan of the chief executives i studied seemed to exist only in your heads—as flexible, but often specific, intentions. The timeless literature notwithstanding, the job of managing does no breed reflective planners; managers respond come stimuli, they space conditioned by their work to choose live to delay action.

Folklore: The efficient manager has no constant duties come perform. supervisors are constantly being told come spend an ext time planning and delegating and also less time see customers and engaging in negotiations. These room not, ~ all, the true tasks of the manager. To use the famous analogy, the an excellent manager, favor the an excellent conductor, closely orchestrates everything in advance, climate sits back, responding periodically to an unforeseeable exception. Yet here again the satisfied abstraction simply does not seem to hold up.

Fact: Managerial work entails performing a number of regular duties, consisting of ritual and also ceremony, negotiations, and also processing of soft information that links the organization with that is environment. consider some evidence from the research:

A research of the work-related of the presidents of tiny companies uncovered that they involved in routine activities because your companies might not afford staff specialists and also were so thin on operating personnel that a single absence often required the president to substitute.5

One examine of field sales managers and another of chef executives suggest that that is a natural part of both work to see vital customers, suspect the managers wish to save those customers.6

Someone, only half in jest, once defined the manager together the human who sees visitors so that other world can get their occupational done. In my study, I uncovered that particular ceremonial duties—meeting visiting dignitaries, offering out gold watches, presiding in ~ Christmas dinners—were one intrinsic component of the chief executive’s job.

Studies of managers’ information flow suggest that supervisors play a key role in securing “soft” exterior information (much that it obtainable only to them since of their status) and in pass it along to their subordinates.

Folklore: The an elderly manager requirements aggregated information, which a officially management details system finest provides. not too lengthy ago, the words total information system were anywhere in the administration literature. In keeping with the classic view that the manager as that separation, personal, instance perched top top the apex the a regulated, hierarchical system, the literature’s manager to be to receive all necessary information from a giant, comprehensive MIS.

But lately, these giant MIS systems are not working—managers are simply not making use of them. The enthusiasm has actually waned. A look at at exactly how managers actually process information renders it clear why.

Fact: supervisors strongly favor verbal media, call calls and also meetings, over documents. consider the following:

In 2 British studies, managers spent an average of 66% and also 80% of their time in linguistic (oral) communication.7 In my research of five American chef executives, the number was 78%.

These 5 chief executives treated mail handling as a burden to it is in dispensed with. One come in Saturday morning to process 142 piece of mail in just over 3 hours, come “get to escape of all the stuff.” This exact same manager looked at the very first piece the “hard” letter he had actually received all week, a standard price report, and also put the aside with the comment, “I never look at this.”

These same 5 chief executives responded instantly to 2 the the 40 regimen reports they received during the five weeks of my study and to 4 item in the 104 periodicals. They skimmed many of this periodicals in seconds, nearly ritualistically. In all, this chief executives of good-sized establishments initiated on your own—that is, not in solution to miscellaneous else—a grand full of 25 pieces of mail throughout the 25 days ns observed them.

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An analysis of the letter the executives obtained reveals an interesting picture—only 13% to be of specific and immediate use. So now we have an additional piece in the puzzle: not lot of the mail gives live, current information—the activity of a competitor, the mood of a federal government legislator, or the rating of last night’s tv show. However this is the info that drove the managers, interrupting their meetings and also rescheduling your workdays.

Consider another interesting finding. Managers seem to cherish “soft” information, especially gossip, hearsay, and also speculation. Why? The factor is that timeliness; today’s gossip might be tomorrow’s fact. The manager who misses the telephone speak to revealing the the company’s best customer was seen golfing with a main competitor may read around a dramatic fall in sales in the following quarterly report. However then it’s too late.