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Human Resource Management Glossary Index:

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Manager is a job title that is used in organizations to denote an employee with certain responsibilities to lead functions or departments and / or employees. The manager is assigned to a particular level on an organizational chart. Employees who have the job title of manager have diverse responsibilities for people and functions. Larger organizations may also have senior managers or managers of managers who report to either the director level or the vice president level, depending, usually, on the size of the organization.

The best description that I've seen recently for what a manager does or should do, from the Harvard Business Review, is: "Management is responsibility for the performance of a group of people." My traditional definition echoes a similar role: A manager is responsible for overseeing and leading the work of a group of people. But, what else does manager mean and what does a manager do?

Leading people is the usual description of what a manager does. But, he or she is also responsible for leadership over a segment of work, a sub-section of the organization's results, or a functional area with or without reporting staff. Additionally, some organizations have senior or executive managers whose job is to lead a group of managers, each with their own functional area of responsibility and directly reporting staff. Examples include:

  • Bill is the marketing manager and he has six reporting staff members. In this instance, Bill is responsible for a sub-section of the organization's results, the functional area marketing, and for the six direct reports.

  • Mary is the manager of Human Resources, a functional area and sub-section of the organization's results. She currently has no reporting staff members, but as the company grows, she plans to add reporting staff.

  • Bethany is the manager of trade show and event marketing. She manages the functional area of trade show and event marketing. She has no staff currently and none are planned for the future. She draws upon the people resources of the department for which she is coordinating the event. Additionally, different marketing department members help her publicize and staff the event; for example, the public relations manager, the marketing communications writer, and the graphics designer, none of whom report to her, might help her plan, market, and stage an event.

  • Elizabeth is the senior manager of customer engagement. In this role, she is responsible for the work and results of the four departments that comprise the department of customer engagement. In this role, the four department managers report to her for their overall leadership and direction. These four managers, in turn, head up their own functional areas: the customer service representatives, the technical support specialists, the administrative services staff, and the external training and development staff.

Employees who have the job title of manager, as you can see, have diverse responsibilities for people and functions. In general, because every manager's job is different, a manager has these job responsibilities.

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