‘Manager’ is one of the most common additions to any job title, and we all understand that it suggests a level of seniority and responsibility for a given business area, whether that’s a group of people or a particular business function. The role can vary massively, from sales manager to hotel manager.
The question is, what is a manager generally expected to do? What are their responsibilities and what skills do they require? If you’re looking to move your career to the next level and into management roles, or you’ve just been promoted and want to arm yourself with all the knowledge, then this article is for you.
In this article, we’re going to look at the different areas of responsibility applicable to most managers and the skills that are required to succeed in the role.
As a manager, it’s your job to ensure the smooth running of whatever area of a business you’ve been given responsibility for. This will vary hugely depending on your industry, but several key responsibilities are consistent across all kinds of manager roles.
Organising and managing the work of your team or department is one of the main roles of a manager. You might work in an office in your management role, where things aren’t necessarily as hectic every day as a working kitchen for example, but organisation is no less important in ensuring work gets done and customers or clients get what they have paid for.
Managers bear a lot of responsibility in their roles, and you need to be ready to take on and manage this. Do you know which reports need to be sent from your department and when? Do you know who is working on them? Do you have a plan if deadlines aren’t hit? You’re held accountable when you’re a manager, not only for yourself but also for the work the rest of your team does.
Not all managers have direct reports, but for the ones that do, this is possibly their biggest responsibility. The most obvious aspect of this is delegation and the organisation of what your employees are going to do over the working day, week, month or even further ahead.
If we go back to the kitchen or restaurant example, anyone managing in this space would be responsible for deciding exactly what everyone else is doing. Who is responsible for what? When do shifts start and finish? What happens when priorities change?
In an office environment, things are more likely to be longer term. If you’re working on a project you’ll need to ensure that everyone has a particular task delegated to them so that everything comes together in the end. Account managers, for instance, might be responsible for ensuring that all of the moving parts of an account culminate in success for the client.
Aside from those overarching responsibilities, managers are expected to think about things like general development and training, along with building a good culture within their team. These aspects can be tricky to master, which is why we’d suggest looking into courses that help you learn how best to coach others.
The role of a manager in business serves a particular purpose in every organisation. Whilst there will be specific responsibilities that come with certain industries or positions, below are some of the main responsibilities of a manager that describe the role they play in an organisation.
Even in the smallest of businesses, there are likely to be policies that must be followed. One of the most important roles of a manager in an organisation is to uphold these policies to ensure the smooth running of the business.
Policies form the framework that allows a business to run according to the wishes of senior business leaders, and it’s the responsibility of all managers to follow and critically enforce these policies. They can range from company-wide policies that cover things like dress code and behaviour, to specific policies such as when certain paperwork has to be completed, or how certain tasks are processed.
In many cases, managers will also be involved in the creation of policy, particularly in areas for which they’re responsible (though they may be asked to give input on larger functions). Creating policy isn’t always as easy as it seems, and requires a good understanding of how to balance what’s essential and what’s achievable.
Where there are different business groups within the organisation as a whole, it’ll be your responsibility to represent the people and areas for which you are responsible. You’ll need to negotiate and liaise with other managers to work towards a common goal, or even to resolve conflict.
You may have staff underneath you who are responsible for administrative tasks, but as a manager, you’re certainly going to have to deal with considerable paperwork and processes. This is one of the areas of management that isn’t seen as being quite as enjoyable, but it does need to be done.
You’ll be required to sign off on things, make decisions, and potentially look after budgets, all of which generally means sitting down and going through documents and spreadsheets. Some managers might be lucky enough for this to be a minimum, but as a general rule, you need to be prepared for paperwork.
As a manager, you’ll undoubtedly have a certain degree of autonomy, which means that you will need to be able to successfully evaluate the performance of the business function or people for which you are responsible. More entry-level employees will not necessarily have to concern themselves with this aspect of working life, because it’ll be someone else’s job to evaluate them. That’s now likely to be you.
You need to be able to effectively understand what you’re working towards, and whether or not you’ve achieved that. Where things haven’t gone well, you’ll need to identify why and take steps to improve in the future.
Of course, to do all of this, goals will need to be set. Effectively setting these goals means finding a good balance between pushing and motivating everyone to do better, and being realistic.
When you’re understanding the role of a manager in an organisation and how best to excel in the role, several key skills will benefit you, no matter where you work.
Organisational skills are critical for managers because it’s these that ensure nothing is forgotten, and that everyone else has what they need. If you’re managing a kitchen for example, have you made sure all the stock is ready and available? Do you know all of the service times for the day? Have you got a plan to make sure that everything will run smoothly, even as little things go wrong?
Organisation is thankfully something that can be worked on and improved, and there are lots of techniques to help you. In the early stages of your manager role, you’ll want to make use of note-taking, calendars and email categorisation, for instance, as well as project management tools and methodology to help keep track of projects and progress.
Conflict resolution and handling challenging conversations can sometimes be one of the more difficult aspects of being a manager. It’s far more likely that there’ll be friction between you and other managers than between you and those who report to you.
This is especially true for colleagues with similar responsibilities, or where there’s overlap. In order to be successful here, you’ll need to be able to negotiate well, and give a good account of yourself, but also know how to resolve issues and potentially work with people who you don’t get on with.
Communication is an essential skill for a manager for both your written work and your interactions with colleagues or more senior members of staff. You need to be able to share information and instructions with your team without any misunderstandings or misinterpretation, and being able to communicate clearly and concisely is a big part of this.
You also need good communication skills to present feedback and updates to the colleagues you report to, with some managers also needing to speak with clients and stakeholders. Good communication is a straightforward skill to improve, which is good because it’s essential in being a successful manager.
You cannot simply leave your colleagues to determine their own responsibilities when you’re a manager, because if their work goes wrong, it’s your responsibility to fix the problem and your fault an issue occurred in the first place. Therefore, a key skill that managers need is delegation.
Your team will look to you for direction and instruction and you need to be confident in assigning tasks that suit individual skills and abilities. So delegation is not only about confidently allocating work, but also knowing who is best suited to get things done.
To be a successful manager, you’re going to need to be constantly on the ball, able to deal with multiple things happening at once, and you need to know exactly what should be happening throughout the day. No more can you be concerned only about what you’re doing in the moment; you have to consider the bigger picture.
You’ll have many more responsibilities as a manager than a regular employee and be held to a higher standard than others. If you’re being promoted, and you perhaps followed certain policies loosely in the past, then you’ll need to make a conscious effort to better adhere to them.
And you’re not just there to tell people what to do either; the role of managers in a company is to guide and motivate their staff to get the best out of them. Part of this is being a good leader, which is often considered to be something slightly different to management. Consider a leadership online course if you think you need to build the skills that make a good leader.
The average salary of a manager varies massively between industries, but according to data from Indeed, the average salary for a manager in the UK is £39,503. In general, you can expect to earn a salary that is in the higher bracket of pay in your company, due to your responsibilities and experience.
The role of a manager in motivating employees involves providing direction, instruction and support. This helps to encourage employees because they have a clear idea of what they’re doing, someone they can go to for help, and can receive praise and feedback from a senior member of staff, which carries more weight.
Managers influence a business because their work impacts how successful the organisation is at reaching its goals and targets. Good managers will be aligned with the business purpose and growth goals and will guide their teams in the right direction to achieve this, but can also influence the company by pushing for progress and suggesting new ideas.
Management is all about taking responsibility, being able to work independently, and ultimately ensuring that a business function works as it should. It doesn’t matter what type of manager you are or whether you’re responsible for the staff or not, you need to be able to see the bigger picture of how the business works, and your place in that.
If you’d like to go one step further in understanding what makes a good manager, consider taking our online course ‘The Role of a Manager’ or browsing our collection of leadership and management training courses.