Interview With Manager

Throughout the essay, the managers will be referred to as Mr X and Mr Y and their company’s will be referred to as Company X and Company Y respectively due to confidential reasons. The first manager that was interviewed in order to fulfil this task was Mr X. He works for Company X, which is, a large service based organisation at the position of ‘Head of Corporate Credit Administration.’ His key responsibility at this bank is to provide credit administration support to Corporate, Investment banking and SME business. Within Company X’s hierarchy Mr X appears to be a middle level manager at he is expected to report to the CEO of the company while he also supervises. The second interview that was conducted for this task was with Mr Y. He is a Creative Marketing Director at Company Y which is a marketing consultancy and IT development enterprise located in Malaysia. His organisation is also service based; however, it is a medium sized one. As a top level manager, Mr Y’s task is to direct and oversee the overall projects and ensure that they are carried out as planned and are successful. Management is the process of coordinating and overseeing the work activities of others so that their activities are completed efficiently and effectively (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2012).

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In the subsequent essay, the universality of management will be discussed in light of Fayol’s four functions and Katz’s three skills and how relevant these theories appear while analysing the information gathered from the interviews. Henri Fayol proposed that that all managers perform five functions: planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2012). During the course of the essay, however, the emphasis will remain on the four functions: planning, organising, leading and controlling. A skill is the ability either to perform some specific behavioral task or the ability to perform some specific cognitive process that is functionally related to some particular task (Peterson, 2004). For the purpose of this task Katz’s skills will be related to the interviews collected. Namely these are: Conceptual, Human and Technical skills. Mr. X is involved in a moderate amount of planning as he defines the credit policies for the corporate portfolio. Moreover, he has to cascade the defined goals to individual job levels and monitors them closely for accomplishment.

In his organization, high achievers are often rewarded with awards and cash bonuses which serve as a motivation. Reports are also compiled frequently to monitor portfolio behavior and to make sure that customer’s expectations at various occasions are fulfilled. At the same time, he is also expected to be able to work with various other departments to ensure smooth transactional processing. These tasks of Mr. X relate to the organizing function of Fayol, that is, the providing of everything essential in performing a particular task i.e. the right equipment and tools with right people and right amount of capital (Fayol, 1949, as cited in Lamond, 1998). It is not enough to just organize the employees and assign them jobs to perform. But what is more important is to know that which employee is specialized in which job (best suited for a particular task) and assign them jobs accordingly (Fayol, 1949, as cited in Lamond, 1998). Mr. X’s interview conveys that he is the most involved in leading, organizing and controlling with a moderate amount of planning. All this is in line with the existing theories of what a middle level manager ought to do.

However, he has rated controlling as ‘4’ which is rather high for a middle level manager. Theory says that a middle-level manager is only expected to contribute 14% of his tasks to controlling (Stephen Robbins, 2012, p.19). Mr. X rated the need of human skills as ‘5’. These skills are important for managers at all levels (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2012).  Hence, it falls in line and confirms Katz’s theory. However, Mr. X’s rating of the other two skills and the theory related to those seem to be contradicting as he rates technical skills and conceptual skills as very much while according to Katz, a middle level manager is expected to possess moderate amounts of each. Thus, in Mr. X’s case, Fayol’s four functions seem to be evident while Katz’s theory appears to not be relevant to his job description and tasks expected out of him. Managers can manage action directly, they can manage people to encourage then to take necessary actions, and they can manage information to influence the people in turn to take their necessary actions (Mintzberg, 1994).

Being a part of a board member, Mr. Y claims that he is involved in a moderate amount of planning (rating of ‘3’), along with, employing the correctly skilled people for a task that is most suitable for them. Mr. Y feels that it is his responsibility, being a senior, to inspire his subordinates and provide them with the recognition that they require to be able to excel in their respective fields. A weekly reporting system is used in Company Y to check through the company’s progress and its employee’s efficiency and effectiveness. Thus, there is quite a lot of leading and controlling, followed by organising and planning is the least of them all. Fayol’s four functions seem to be in accordance with Mr. Y’s job description except for the function of controlling which, for a top level manager, should be the lowest and in this case it is rated as a ‘5’ (very much). Technical skills are defined as the understanding of, or proficiency in, specific activities that require the use of specialized tools, methods, processes, procedures, techniques, or knowledge (Peterson, 2004). Relating back to Katz’s theory, a top level manager is expected to possess very little of technical skills which contradicts with Mr. Y’s rating of ‘3’ for technical skills.

The real performance of the manager is the knowledge base of the manager (Carroll & Gillen, 1987). Being a top level manager, it is generally assumed that Mr. Y should have very much of conceptual skills which will enable him to think outside the box as he also claims that it extremely hard to be creative on demand, which is something that his job requires of him. Conceptual skills are generally thought to be needed more as the level of managing gets higher. Along with this, human skills are also vital for a manager at all levels. These skills allow the manager to train, direct, and evaluate subordinates performing specialized tasks (Peterson, 2004). However, Mr. Y has overrated technical skills and underrated conceptual skills in relation to his job. Hence, this contradicts with the outlined theory and Katz’s skills come across as irrelevant while analyzing Mr. Y’s job.

Hence, it can be concluded that Fayol’s functions are more relevant and evident in Mr. Y’s descriptions of his job, as compared to Katz’s theory which is mostly contradicting with the information provided by Mr. Y. Although there is some empirical support for the influence of hierarchical level and functional specialty on managerial role requirements, the influence of these factors on required skills, knowledge, and abilities remains more speculative in nature (Pavett & Lau, 1983). If management is truly a generic principle, then what managers do should be essentially the same whether they are top level executives or low-level supervisors, in a business firm or a non-profit arts organization…(Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2012). With advancements in technology and changing ideologies, the traditional definition of an organization is changing along with the traditional definitions of a manager. The roles that managers play and the expectations that others have of them are evolving to reflect new forms of organization (Chapman, 2001).

During the past ten years or so, the usefulness of the classical functions for classifying managerial work activities has been questioned by a number of writers (Carroll & Gillen, 1987). Similarities can be observed between the two managers with reference to moderate amounts of planning and organising involved. Both managers also recognized human skills as highly important. These similarities could be due to both the managers being linked with the service sector. On the other hand, there are some evident differences that cannot be ignored. Mr. X requires very much of technical skills and conceptual skills, while Mr. Y needs only a moderate amount of both. No significant difference can be obtained in light of Fayol’s functions. Mintzberg (1980) proposed that differences in managerial work involve the relative importance of the roles across hierarchical level and functional specialty (Lachman, 1985). Hence, these differences are probably due Mr. X being a middle level manager while Mr. Y is a top level one. Also, Mr. X comes from a public sector while Mr. Y relates to a private one.

Furthermore, Mr. Y works for a medium sized organization where the need for technical and conceptual skills rises very seldom which is why he rates it so low. On the other hand, Mr. X, working in a large organization rates them higher as the circumstances are different. Managers in both small and large organisations perform essentially the same activities, but how they go about them and the proportion of time they spend on each one are different (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2012). Regardless of their level, all managers make decisions and all managers are viewed to be performing the four functions of planning, organising, leading and controlling.

However, the time dedicated to any particular function cannot be merely stated as a fact as it tends to vary from manager to manager. After analyzing the interviews, it can be concluded that Fayol’s four functions are found to be relevant in the light of the managers interviewed, but at a varied degree. How relevamt are Katz’s skills? Examining the interviews separately, the skills stated do not seem to support the theory, except for the human skills. Although these skills are defined and explained separately, they will be interrelated when enforced to managerial problems. Therefore, looking at the general overview of the functions and skills, they appear to be the universal guideline for managers even though the level of importance for each individual function or skills may be different.

Reference List
Carroll, S., & Gillen, D,. (1987). Are the classical management functions useful in describing managerial work? Academy of Management Review, 12(1), 38-51. Chapman, J.A., (2001). The work of managers in new organisational contexts. Journal of management development, 20(1), 55-68. Hales, C,. (1999). Why do Managers Do What They Do? Reconciling Evidence and Theory in Accounts of Managerial Work. British Journal of Management, 10, 335–350 Lachman, R,. (1985). Public and Private sector differences: CEOS’s Perceptions of their Role Evironments. Academy of Management Journal, 28(3), 671-680.

Lamond, D,. (1998). Back to the future: Lessons from the past for a new management era in G. Griffin (Ed.) Management Theory and Practice: Moving to a New Era. MacMillan: Melbourne. 3-14. Lau, A.W., & Pavett, C.M,. (1983). Managerial Work: The Influence of Hierarchical Level and Functional Specialty. Academy of Management Journal, 26(1), 170-177 Peterson, T. (2004). Ongoing legacy of R.L. Katz: an updated typology of management skills, Management Decision. 42(10), 1297-1308.

Robbins, S., Bergman, R., Stagg, I. & Coulter, M. (2012), Management, (6th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education.

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