What Is the Function of a Manager? Definition and Roles

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 October 2021

Managers play a significant role in the running of an organisation. They are the leaders of the team and are responsible for meeting the company's objectives. To be a productive and efficient manager, you may want to know the fundamental functions and accountabilities the position implies. In this article, we explain what the function of a manager is, list the four main roles of management and discuss how you can develop your management skills.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

What is the function of a manager?

The function of a manager is primary to ensure efficient operations within an organisation, department or team. There are four commonly accepted roles of a manager. These include planning, organising, leading and controlling. Understanding these functions can help you be a great manager.

First, managers develop a plan and then organise the necessary resources to carry out that plan. They can delegate duties to employees and lead them until they achieve the objectives. After executing the plan, they can evaluate the plan's effectiveness and see if there are any adjustments or improvements to be made in the future. Here are the main functions in detail:

1. Planning

Planning is the process of determining an organisation's goals and how to achieve them. In this phase, managers brainstorm different alternatives and then choose the best course of action. They help in making strategic decisions that set a direction for the company. To plan effectively, the management often conducts in-depth research on the company's current affairs, considering its mission while evaluating if the available resources are enough to execute the plans and achieve objectives.

While planning, the managing director can allocate resources as per the project needs. They also set achievable deadlines for the completion of the tasks. In addition, managers may seek approval from their superiors in budget matters and the execution of specific tasks. Here are the several types of planning they may perform:

Strategic planning

Strategic planning is the foundation of a business and is under the responsibility of top management. It entails creating and sharing a vision for the future. It also involves creating goals for the entire company and evaluating its strengths, weaknesses and threats. Strategic plans take a minimum of three years to get implemented. These plans include values, mission and vision.

Tactical planning

Tactical planning takes a year or less to implement the plan and achieve objectives. It's mainly the responsibility of middle management, which involves coming up with tactics or ways to achieve the set goals. Tactical planning is for specific departments such as finance, production or marketing.

Operational planning

It's the process of using tactical planning to achieve strategic goals and plans. It sets realistic timelines for executing a portion of the strategic plan. As opposed to strategic planning, which shares a vision for the future, operational planning lays out the steps of achieving the set goals. It answers questions such as what, who, how much and when, regarding the tasks.

Contingency planning

Contingency planning involves making plans for any unforeseen changes. In senior management, it's essential to have a contingency plan to anticipate changes. It may help in ensuring that nothing hinders you or your team from achieving the set objectives.

2. Organising

As a manager, it's important that you have organisational skills to help you plan and improve your workflow. Excellent organisational skills help you reduce stress, meet deadlines and stay on top of your work. In this phase, a manager organises people and resources to implement the set plans.

Organising involves delegating tasks, keeping in mind your team's strengths and weaknesses. It may also mean reassigning tasks or adding more team members to achieve a specific goal. Having organisational skills ensures that goals get achieved without any challenges or internal conflicts.

Here are some skills that may help you stay organised:

  • Scheduling

  • Time management

  • Goal setting

  • Record keeping

  • Event coordination

  • Deadline management

  • Filling

  • Project management

3. Leading

To achieve organisational goals, managers promote a teamwork environment that fosters cooperation and loyalty. As a leader, it's important that you feel confident and comfortable delegating tasks and following through to see that they achieve the objectives. This involves projecting a sense of leadership and direction when addressing employees or setting goals.

Leadership skills manifest in many ways, including recognising when employees need praise or rewards to boost their morale. It also gets manifested in how you handle conflicts between team members. To lead efficiently, be sure to practice what you expect your team to do. Try to be a hands-on person, such that they can learn from you. Also, as you lead, keep in mind that everyone is different, and thus each may require a different approach if you're to keep your team together. There are several approaches to leading:

  • Coaching: This method allows employees to pitch their ideas to the manager. The manager is receptive to their ideas, which creates trust and boosts confidence among employees.

  • Directing: The manager leads with little input from employees. It's quite effective when dealing with new employees who need a lot of training and direction.

  • Supporting: This mainly focuses on building solid relationships within the team, and the manager is receptive to employees' ideas and contributions. This leadership style is effective if employees have developed skills but are inconsistent in their production or performance.

  • Delegating: The manager delegates tasks to employees and avoids interfering unless the employee needs help or guidance. This approach is practical when dealing with professionals who can work effectively without supervision or guidance, and this allows the manager to focus on other crucial projects or tasks.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

4. Controlling

In this phase, managers consistently monitor whether a team meets organisational objectives. They may do this by controlling every stage from planning to execution. As a manager, it's crucial that you monitor employee's quality of work, performance and use of resources. You can do so by conducting performance reviews and giving feedback on areas that may need improvement.

Controlling involves taking the necessary action to ensure that the company achieves its goals and objectives. If the project is going differently from planned, the manager can make adjustments. Typically, controlling pursues that everything works efficiently. Some of the adjustments you can make include:

Staffing adjustments

There are times when objectives may not get achieved because one employee or more is underperforming. As the manager, it's your role to understand why this is happening and to find a solution. Sometimes, it may be because the employee is de-motivated or because the assigned task is beyond their knowledge or skills.

As management, it's essential that you evaluate the issue and then decide whether to reassign the employee to a different task or add another employee to your team. Note that to add an extra employee, you may require more funding. Also, if you decide to work with the current team, you may need more time to accomplish the tasks given without adding an extra employee.

Related: What Is a Performance Review and Why Does It Matter?

Budget adjustments

It's the role of managers to ensure that resources get used effectively. If you notice that you're going over the set budget, you can take a break and check what is causing the excessive spending. Going over budget may be because one department is overspending or the plan is working differently, forcing team members to use a plan with high budget needs. Once you identify the cause of going over budget, you may require curbing the overall spending. Depending on the situation, you can also consider consulting with your supervisor to see if it's possible to get extra funding.

How to develop your management skills

Some of the above functions of a manager can extend from skills and experience gained in formal education and entry-level positions. Here are more ways to develop your management skills and become a better manager:

1. Take time for reflection

Set time for reflection to help you evaluate your plan and progress. You can schedule sessions after the completion of a project and invite your team to participate. Encourage an open discussion, where everyone can give their views on what needs improving or fixing. That way, you can develop an action plan to avoid facing the same setbacks in your next project.

2. Work on your communication skills

Being in a management position may require you to tackle complex situations. To be an effective manager, try to be transparent about the situations and instil a shared vision of how the company can benefit from their cooperation. For example, suppose the company is going through a financial problem. In that case, you can inform your team and ensure that the employees understand why various changes may need to get implemented.

3. Find a mentor

To become an effective manager, you may need to find a mentor with managerial experience and request them to guide you. Take time to watch how they execute their duties and ask them questions when issues arise. You can participate in a mentorship group or ask your senior manager to be your mentor.