A Realistic Description of Managerial Work

A Realistic Description of Managerial Work- Minzberg concluded that : 

  1. Senior management jobs are open-ended, managers feel compelled to tackle a large workload at demanding pace. there is little free time. Breaks are rare. Escaping from work after hours is physically/mentally difficult. 
  2. The work is fragmented, full of brevity & variety with a lack of pattern. Managers confront the law of the trivial many and the important few (80/20 principle). Behaviors must change quickly and frequently; interruptions are common. 
  3. Managers seem to prefer this and become conditioned by workload. Opportunity-costs of time (urgencies) are keenly felt and superficiality in relationships is a hazard. 
  4. There is an activity-trap – managers tend towards current, specific, well-defined, non-routine activities.
  5. Processing mail is a pain; ‘non-active’ mail gets little attention. Current information (chat, speculation) is preferred – routine reports are not. Use of time reflects close, immediate pressures rather than future, broader issues. Fire-fighting (reacting to immediate stimulus) is a problem. Live action pushes the manager away from thinking and planning.

Verbal contacts and media are preferred over written. written. Written communications get cursory treatment, but must be processed regularly. Less goes out than comes in. It moves slowly. There are long feedback delays. (How does E-Mail fit in?) Subordinates outside spoken lines of contact may feel uninformed.

Informal media (telephone and unscheduled meetings) are used for brief contacts if people know each other well and when quick information exchange is called for.

  • Scheduled meetings eat up managerial time – long formal duration, large groups and often away from the organization. The agendas cover ceremonials, strategy-making and negotiation. Chatting at start/end of meetings contributes significantly to information flow. 
  • Managers seldom ‘tour’ yet WTJ (walking the job) enhances ‘visibility’ & understanding of the actuality of work and production/service methods, standards and problems. 
  • Managers as boundary managers, link his/her own organization with outside networks. External contacts (clients, suppliers, associates, peers, informer networks) can consume 30-50% of a senior manager’s time. Non-line relationships are also important.

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