Does It Matter What Managers Do?

5565 Words Sep 23rd, 2010 23 Pages
Business Strategy Review, 2001, Volume 12 Issue 2, pp 50-58

Does It Matter What Managers Do?
Colin Hales
After half a century of research, we now have a fair idea of what managers do. This differs both from the “heroic selfimage” idealisation and from the sanitised “management science” idealisation. Despite IT and all the talk of empowerment, management as a profession in its own right is, if anything, becoming more, not less, widespread. What managers do therefore matters simply because so many people are doing “management” as their main role. But does what managers do matter in terms of its effects on the people being managed, and, if so, how? The answer is obviously yes, but the central message of this article is how little we know
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For example, whilst it is commonplace to assert that what managers do varies “by organisation”, how and why organisational structures and processes shape managerial behaviour has not been adequately explained. Thus the question “Why do managers do different things?” still does not have a satisfactory answer. Finally, and most important of all for my argument here, almost all researchers have shied away from judging whether the managerial behaviours they describe represent, or contribute to, “good” or “effective” management from the perspective of the people managed, as opposed to “good” or “effective”

Day-to-day “people” management. Management of routine information. Day-to-day monitoring and maintenance of work processes. Non-managerial activities, like conducting or assisting with technical work.

In short, managers share a common and probably inescapable preoccupation with routine, day-to-day maintenance of the work processes and people for whom they are responsible – keeping the show on the road. This work is characterised by:
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Short, interrupted and fragmented activities. An obligation to react to events, problems and requirements of others. A preoccupation with the urgent, ad hoc and unforeseen, rather than the planned. The embedding or nesting of activities within others. A high level of verbal interaction, often

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