Mintzberg contributed to challenging the view that managers organise, co-ordinate and plan. His 1973 research observed 5 CEO’s and discovered the exact opposite. He saw that managers were working at an unrelenting pace characterised by “brevity, variety and discontinuity” and dislike reflective activities (Mintzberg, March - April 1990). Well what’s changed between 1973 and now, if anything managers are even more stretched. On implementing a process in a recent organisation, I worked with Managers to understand their barriers. The manager told me that they knew it was important, it’s not because they don’t want to do it, but they don’t have the time in the day. We put so much on our managers that we have diverted their energy from what they should be doing, which is managing their people. So the question then should be if you know that this is important, what do you want to stop doing? What in your view does not add value?
Half of the activities Mintzberg observed lasted less than 90 minutes. He identified a cluster of ten roles, which stem from a manager’s formal authority and status - Interpersonal Roles: Figurehead, Leader and Liaison. Followed by Informational Roles: Monitor, Disseminator and Spokesperson, and finally Decisional Roles: Entrepreneur, Disturbance Handler, Resource Allocator and Negotiator. Arguably Mintzberg initial work provided only a basic understanding of managerial behaviours.
In developing your organisation think about these roles, the formation requirements will vary for different roles, but consider what the main focus needs to be. Then how can we enable our managers to get back to managing people.