If becoming a business manager interests you, this book is for you. It describes the wide variety of managerial opportunities, from top-level management positions to middle and beginning management jobs. The focus of the book is entry and middle level jobs, where most young people find the greatest opportunity.
Management activities are generally similar from company to company. However, privileges, salaries, and opportunities differ, as do individual managers' abilities and levels of responsibility. Managers plan and control major functions of an organization. They try to anticipate opportunities and changes and then lead the way. Their resources are traditionally described as the five Ms of management: manpower (i.e., men and women power), money, materials, methods, and machines.
To make their resources productive, managers organize, coordinate, direct, and develop them. For example, they organize groups of employees and assign duties to them. This creates communication (information) systems, production systems, and distribution systems. A good manager is able to turn a department or task force into a highly productive team that strives as a unit to reach company goals.
All management jobs include planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. The degree to which each of these functions becomes part of a manager's responsibility depends on two things: (1) the level and extent of the manager's authority as a decision maker, and (2) the nature and size of the organization. In large organizations, managers specialize in different tasks such as keeping track of the company's finances or creating products or services that the company can market. In a small owner-operated company with only a few employees, the owner will probably manage many or all of these functions.
Regardless of the size of an organization or the level of management responsibility, one basic task is human resource development. Managers who understand and respect the importance of the human element in management get the best results, although the degree to which they work directly with employees and the public will depend on their particular jobs. Some managers, like those in schools, restaurants, and social service agencies, are in constant touch with the public, while those working with research or publications may deal with only a few in-house associates.
As the size and complexity of a company's operations increase, so do its layers of management. Giant corporations may have ten or more layers-generally classified as supervisors, middle managers, and top managers.
Indiscriminate use of such words as supervisor, manager, executive, and administrator has caused some confusion in understanding each manager's level. Here, then, are descriptions of the three basic levels of managers.
Supervisors or Junior Managers plan and schedule day-to-day employee operations. They direct every type of production and service activity in an organization, including data processing, records management, security, and shipping. For example, in a department store, a supervisor might oversee several salesclerks, keep inventory records, and see that merchandise is replaced as needed.
Middle managers function between top management and supervisors. In other words, they report to top managers, and supervisors report to them. In large organizations, middle managers might be responsible for branch plants or regional developments. A middle manager of chain stores, for example, might be responsible for all the stores in a region, such as the Midwest.
Middle management took a blow in the early 1990s due to the phenomena of corporate restructuring and mergers and acquisitions. Known also by other euphemisms such as "rightsizing" and "reengineering," restructuring has cost many thousands of middle managers their jobs. The emphasis on a team approach has also lessened the need for mid-level managers. However, as companies enjoyed their short-term profits from this, the reinvestment in growth has resulted in the need to once again hire people in middle management positions. Although not as secure as in the early 1980s, middle management positions are expected to increase into the next century.
Doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, and other professional technical people are not usually considered managers because they do not spend much time on management activities. When employed by companies, they are usually classified as professional staff and work in advisory capacities, where they use their specialized knowledge and skills.
Supervisors and middle managers are production oriented. They make decisions relating to personnel, materials, and procedures. Top managers are policy oriented. They chart an organization's course and set overall goals. Their ranks include the board of directors, the CEO, and the vice president of major departments such as production, finance, and sales. Top managers analyze large amounts of information that come from within the company and from the world outside. They must decide what impact political, technological, and social trends will have on their organizations.
There was a time when a young person had to own a business in order to be a manager, but that time is long past. Now, the majority of management opportunities open to young people looking for leadership roles are in corporations. Some people prefer less competitive and more structured situations in government or in family-owned businesses, but the trend is to work in a large corporation, although management is not usually an entry-level position. How, then, do you get started?
Some people find entry-level jobs with good companies and move upward on a career path from general employee to unit supervisor to department manager, and so on. Some look for companies with active management training programs and enroll in them. Others major in business administration or political science and, after graduation, start as management trainees. Many begin in other occupations. Many school administrators, for example, began as teachers; store managers, as sales people; and marketing executives, as field representatives.
To be considered for management positions, employees must prove that they can do their assigned work, maintain good relations with others, and take on more responsibility. This may mean putting in overtime without compensation, participating in meetings constructively, and taking training courses willingly. Training opportunities may also include accepting temporary assignments in other company units or serving as an assistant to another manager.
Most people make their own job opportunities by watching and preparing for new responsibilities. Being knowledgeable enough to seize an opportunity is as essential as getting the chance.