Management is a critical aspect of the business that determines its success or failure. According to Easterby-Smith, Jaspersen, Thorpe, and Valizade (2021), management refers to the process of directing and guiding the allocation of resources, development, and maintenance to achieve organizational goals. In realizing these objectives, various managers at different management levels have the responsibility to make rational decisions based on market dynamics and the constantly evolving needs of the consumers. In the global marketplace, changes are occurring rapidly, thus requiring the managers to become increasingly adaptable and flexible in their managerial process. Most companies arrange their leadership vertically, comprising several management levels. Every level fulfills its specific obligations but aligns with the organizational culture, core values, and mission. Fundamentally, most organizations embrace three levels of management, which strive to accomplish four primary roles, including planning, directing, controlling, and organizing.
Different Management Levels
Management levels often depend on the size of the organization or business. Kerrin, Mamabolo, and Kele (2017) define a management level as a line of division between different managerial positions in an organization. The need to restructure leadership in a firm arose from the increased emphasis to separate functions to encourage job specialization and increase productivity. Entrepreneurs and administrators envisioned the rationality of the scientific management theory developed by Frederick Taylor that hypothesized that forcing employees to work does not optimize outcomes (Smith, Skinner and Read, 2020). They understood the significance of simplifying tasks in departments and administrative ranks to enhance productivity and overall firm performance. Therefore, most companies adopt a three-level administration structure, including top, middle, and lower levels of management. However, some firms divide the lower-most level into two to accommodate the team leaders in the management.
The top-level management comprises executives characterized by a wide range of experience in various functions. Examples of the top administrators belonging to top-level management include Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Finance Officer (CFO), Chief Operations Officer (COO), and Chief Technology Officer (CTO). These executives have a wealth of knowledge in their respective areas of specialization, and thus, are perceived as vital tools in an organization’s decision-making process. According to Erasmus, Strydom, and Rudansky-Kloppers (2019), top management teams act as industry experts due to the close association and long-term trajectory of their experience in business operations. As organizational leaders, they benefit from their charismatic and communication skills, which help nurture a strong sense of integrity, accountability, confidence, and risk comfort. Generally, top-level managers examine the entire organization and develop comprehensive strategic plans to facilitate growth in their organizations.
The middle level represents the intermediate stage in the management hierarchy. Managers at this level are accountable to the top executives and are responsible for leading the lower-level administrators (Easterby-Smith et al., 2021). They include departmental, general, and branch managers and other supervisors within the organizational structure. They devote most of their time to directional and organizational functions delegated by the top-level administrators. For instance, Middle-level managers implement the corporate strategic plan according to the firm’s objectives and policies. They also discuss and define the information from the top officials to lower management teams. Apart from their continuous engagement with their juniors, they also communicate vertically to provide feedback and suggestions to the senior managers regarding unique developments in the company or changes in consumer behaviors.
The lower level of management is the last rank of the administrative hierarchy. This team acts as the link between operational employees and the management (Erasmus et al., 2019). Examples of company stakeholders belonging to this group of executives are inspectors, supervisors, and other similar positions. It is significant to note that the titles of the administrators at this level differ based on the organization. Their primary mandate is to inspect and supervise all activities in the company to ensure everything runs smoothly. Lower-level managers are also responsible for nurturing an exceptional working rapport and maintaining an improved workplace environment to strengthen the performance of the subordinates. Some organizations recognize team leaders as the fourth management level, although most businesses place them in the same category as the lower-level administrators.
Skills Needed at Different Management Levels
Executives at the top-level management require a combination of leadership, interpersonal, and communication skills. For instance, they should have exceptional leadership skills such as creativity, active listening, strategic thinking, and the ability to create inspiration within the organization. In his X theory, Douglas McGregor argued that administrators should embrace participative leadership to stimulate enthusiasm among the employees and building trust-based relationships (Smith et al., 2020). Top officials should listen to their juniors and formulate innovative strategies that fit their organizations rather than issuing authoritative directives. Communication skills such as verbal and non-verbal cues remain essential in conveying vital operational information to the stakeholders within the firm and ensuring they understand the intended message. Finally, top-level administrators need interpersonal skills, including negotiation, assertiveness, problem-solving, and decision-making, to guide their companies towards the right growth trajectory while nurturing an excellent working rapport among all stakeholders.
The middle-level managers engage in the implementation of the strategic plans. Consequently, they need to possess various qualities, including delegation, leadership, collaboration, decision-making, and communication skills. According to the systems management model, businesses operate similarly to the human body because they comprise several components that work harmoniously to enable the larger system to function optimally (Smith et al., 2020). Based on this theory, middle-level managers contribute to the success of an organization by enhancing interrelations and interdependence between multiple subsystems in the workplace. In fulfilling this role, they must have collaborative and leadership skills that enable them to delegate duties to the lower-level managers and guide them in implementing strategic plans developed by the top-level executives. Middle-level administrators also need to be creative and communicate effectively to convince other employees why the chosen policy is the best methodology in achieving growth
Finally, lower-level managers supervise and ensure efficient running of operations in an organization. They should have various qualities and skills that help them acts as a critical connection between the workers and the management. For example, these supervisors should be excellent time managers to avoid unnecessary time wastage that may lead to delays. They also need to communicate effectively with subordinates while allowing them to seek clarification. Additionally, lower-level managers should nurture a work environment that inspires teamwork and encourages sharing of ideas, thus promoting innovativeness in fulfilling various duties. Significantly, they should engage in informal discussions with subordinates to build trust and enhance job satisfaction.
The Roles of Management
The primary roles of management are classified into four categories, including planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Firstly, planning involves delegating responsibilities, allocating resources to employees, and setting rational standards and timelines (Kerrin et al., 2017). For instance, managers must ensure that different teams understand their obligations and have enough resources needed to produce exceptional outcomes. In line with the systems management theory, there should be regular meetings to discuss long and short-term goals and ascertain whether the original objectives were met. Secondly, organizing represents a core management role that helps a company and its departmental units run smoothly. The human relations theory developed by Elton Mayo asserts that personal attention rather than money inspires employees to improve their performance (Easterby-Smith et al., 2021). Managers should understand their workers’ talents and skills to allocate them to the best-suited teams for specific tasks to boost their satisfaction and strengthen their responses to new challenges.
Managers should also lead their subordinates or team members in completing daily activities, especially during times of significant challenges or changes. Although the management must demonstrate strong leadership and direction, they should avoid too much authority as it hurts relationships among various stakeholders, according to theory Y (Smith et al., 2020). For instance, administrators can handle and lead employees during a crisis by inspiring personal collaborations by modeling motivational and supportive qualities. The last management role is controlling, which involves monitoring work quality, workers’ performance, and efficiency of the completed projects. For example, managers can modify the production process and assign new teams when the quality of products deteriorates. Therefore, control emphasizes ensuring that workers meet the organization’s goals and that managers make the necessary adjustments.
Management is a crucial process toward the success of any firm or business. Administrative structures may differ across the companies; thus, examining the organizational culture before adopting a specific leadership hierarchy is often significant. Many organizations adopt a three-tier management pyramid, including top, middle, and lower-level managers. Each team of executives fulfills defined duties and thus, requires various skills to complete them prudently and efficiently. For instance, top-level managers should possess leadership, decision-making, communication, and innovation skills to examine organizational needs and develop practical strategic plans to guarantee success in the industry. Essentially, the management focuses on accomplishing four primary roles, including planning, leading, organizing, and controlling. These obligations ensure that managers ensure the smooth running of operations in their companies by allocating sufficient resources to employees and guiding them in making rational choices relating to unprecedented challenges or changes.
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