The spectrum of being a manager

March 26, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

For many employees, work would be bearable, if not enjoyable, without managers. For many managers, would be just great without all those employees.

In his book “Simply Managing” Henry Mintzberg writes that, despite rumors of its death, managing is not going away. Further, managing is as important to an organization as all those employees. Mintzberg also maintains that there is a spectrum of managing, any of which can occur depending on the workplace and the personalities involved.

The spectrum runs this way:

  • Maximal managing. This means managers who plan, organize, coordinate, command and control. It is not going away, even if there have been changes in the workplace.
  • Participative managing. This is also called empowerment but, Mintzberg argues, people who have jobs to do shouldn’t have to be “empowered” by their managers. And passing power down a hierarchy hardly constitutes a serious diffusion of power.
  • Shared managing. One managerial job is shared among several people. Key to this is the sharing of information ad working together.
  • Distributed managing. This diffuses responsibility for managing more widely. Managerial duties can be distributed beyond individuals, for example collectively.
  • Supportive managing. If non-managers can do more, managers can do less, but managers must link and deal with outside stakeholders to ensure a steady flow of resources and buffer employees from outside pressures.
  • Minimal managing. At this level, there might not be much organization to manage, but there does remain some coherent activity in need of coordination, from managers.