Managerial roles: definition, categories and skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 May 2022

Managers occupy a position of authority, leadership and responsibility for their team's productivity and the professional conduct of the employees they oversee. While small businesses may only have one manager, big enterprises typically have many managerial positions across various departments. Although managers may have similar attributes, it's helpful to understand their unique roles depending on their field and the nature of the projects or personnel with whom they work. In this article, we explain what managerial roles are, define the various categories of managerial positions and highlight skills required for these roles.

What are managerial roles?

Managerial roles are a combination of the unique behavioural patterns, primary responsibilities and skill set associated with a managerial position. A functional organisation hires managers who ensure that other employees execute tasks according to the specified internal and external quality, ethics and professional standards. Managers in every sector, including sports, engineering, healthcare and finance, guide their team or colleagues to perform at their best. Each manager may occupy a specific role in an established organisation with several managers. In contrast, one manager can perform multiple roles in a small company.

Related: New manager training: definition, benefits and methods

Managerial categories and roles

According to the Mintzberg theory, there are three categories of managers. They're the decisional, interpersonal and informational roles. These three categories of managers include a variety of managerial positions that best describe how managers operate and what they do. While some take care of the daily activities within the company, others focus more on establishing beneficial partnerships for the organisation. Understanding managerial positions can help you learn how to work with managers and identify what executive style suits you. Here are the major categories of managers and their roles:

Informational roles

A manager in informational roles can gather or disseminate information within and outside the organisation. Here are the examples:

The monitor

This type of managerial role applies to someone whose interest lies in the continuity of productivity. These managers ensure the progress of the business by observing the positives and negatives in the business operations. They also attempt to discover more information about the company and industry. When you walk into this manager's office, they usually have various current newspapers and industry magazines on their desks.

These are the managers who prefer gathering information to entertainment. They make crucial adjustments to daily operations with excellent informational skills to boost profitability. These managers are usually getting news updates on current market trends, new industry practices, recent technological advancements and legal developments in the industry.

The spokesperson

While some managers prefer to stay out of public scrutiny, others thrive on representing the company in any way possible. Managers in this category don't relish interviews, press conferences or appearing in social events on behalf of the company. They don't mind addressing the public on recent organisational developments and giving speeches or presentations when necessary. Besides making comments on internal affairs, they also serve as the spokesperson for management internally. Managers in informational roles also address junior colleagues while conveying new information and anchoring staff meetings.

Related: How to answer the question 'What is your management style?'

Interpersonal roles

In an interpersonal management role, managers focus on building and maintaining relationships within and outside an organisation. Here are some examples:

The figurehead

The figurehead is an interpersonal managerial role with perhaps the most negligible significance. Figureheads are ceremonial managers who rarely take part in technical affairs. These are the types of managers who attend virtually all the events invited, make donations on behalf of the company, cut ribbons or give a speech at an event. Besides attending enjoyable events, they also represent the company in uncomfortable situations. They appear in court, memorials, long seminars and funerals on behalf of the company. It takes an outgoing person who enjoys meeting people to perform these interpersonal roles expertly.

The leader

The leader focuses on guiding and instructing employees on the best ways to maintain productivity. People have different leadership styles and it can define them as managers. While some take a more subtle approach to guiding employees, others can be strict. Leaders try to motivate employees in their unique ways through motivational speeches, setting reasonable targets or promising them a reward for good performance. These individuals exert authority and waste no time making executive decisions whenever the chance arises.

The liaison

The liaison is an interpersonal role that requires people and communication skills. The liaison managers are also leaders who mainly act as intermediaries between management and employees, or the company and the public. When management demand results or answers to specific questions regarding productivity, they summon managers. They're usually approachable and try to maintain the balance within the organisation. The interpersonal roles of a manager require tactfulness and a thorough understanding of the implications of words and actions. Their duties may include conveying employee grievances to management, addressing staff on recent developments or representing their department at a convention.

Decision-making roles

An individual in a decisional management role looks for opportunities and makes decisions in the company's best interest. Here are examples of decisional management roles:

The entrepreneur

The entrepreneur manager oversees employees, departments and projects, including communicating with significant stakeholders. You may recognise these types of managers by their attention to detail, punctuality, commitment to the company and how they take organisational highs and lows personally. They sometimes do more than their job description suggests.

Also, they look for opportunities to expand the business, sometimes working extra hours to perfect an idea and be frugal with spending company funds. They also search for loopholes in business operations and implement measures to tackle its everyday problems. They're crucial to the success of an organisation in their decisional role and are cautious when making decisions.

The resource allocator

Managers ensure employees' productivity by training them and providing the necessary resources. The resource locator is central to providing the resources and the experts. They start by identifying the needs of employees regarding vital resources, approve funds for purchasing these items, plan for the distribution and delegate operations. These managers are keen to introduce employees to the latest gadgets or software to make their jobs easier and faster. Not only do they acquire resources, but they also find the best internal or external personnel to operate them.

Related: 12 tips for new managers levelling up in their careers

Essential skills for managers

A managerial position is crucial and requires comprehensive know-how of management styles, leadership, teamwork and accountability. Also, succeeding in this role requires hard skills and soft skills. Keen professionals can acquire these skills while earning a degree, practising industry techniques, experimenting with new ideas or through experience while working in a management team. Here are the essential skills for anyone in a management role:

Organisation

Sometimes managers have few responsibilities, while there can also be periods where they have a long list of clients to serve. Having organisational skills can help managers accept multiple clients' requests at once without mixing up the details. A manager requires organisational skills to execute projects according to plan.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is one of the essential skills successful managers possess. It can help them improvise or suggest a backup plan to complete a project. Being resourceful can help solve problems in virtually any management aspect, from IT to HR.

Communication

Managers are always in contact with their team and clients. Managers typically brainstorm ideas with their team after meeting with the client or other superiors when working on a project. Creative communication skills can make it easy to exchange ideas clearly, professionally and respectfully. Managers and their team are usually in contact during an ongoing assignment to execute the plans accordingly. Consider using an internal communication medium to correspond with your team in real-time.

Related: Management skills: definitions and examples

Project management

From small individual tasks to major group assignments, managers usually rely on project management techniques to meet expectations set by management or clients. Managers understand that project management techniques afford them various ways to solve multiple problems, manage resources and complete projects in due time. You can acquire project management skills by enrolling in a professional project management course and earning a standard certificate.

Interpersonal skills

A typical manager works with colleagues or clients of various backgrounds. Winning a contract, encouraging colleagues to produce their best work and representing the company requires interacting with people. People skills can make you feel comfortable chatting with others from different social circles without seeming out of place.

Experience

Experience may not be a skill, but it's a significant factor in getting a managerial role. Professionals in executive positions combine their knowledge with the experience they gained throughout their professional endeavours. Manager can apply their skills to daily tasks and spur colleagues to optimum productivity through empathy. Also, managers can provide professional assistance or mentorship for their colleagues.

Virtually every professional in a managerial position starts from a junior or associate role. The experience from their professional formative years equips them for leading a team of junior employees. A managerial role requires at least five years of experience with advanced-level business or academic qualifications.