The purpose of this assignment is to help you gain greater insight into the role of a manager and the skills required to perform that job successfully. Your assignment is to interview at least three different managers who are employed full-time. You are encouraged to select managers from different types of companies (e.g., large and small, family owned or publicly traded) and different industries. One of the managers you interview should have no more than 2 years experience as a manager…and one of the managers you interview should have 5 or more years experience as a manager.
- Contact your 3 selected managers, explain that you’re interested in learning more about what it’s like to be a manager, tell them you appreciate their willingness to take the time to help you with this assignment, and schedule a time to meet with each of the managers. Use the suggested questions listed below in your interviews, plus any others that you think might help you identify the keys for successful management and complete the required aspects (detailed below) of this assignment. Please treat the interviews as confidential. The names of the individuals (and the organizations for which they work) do not matter and need not be disclosed – only their perceptions, operating environments and experiences are the primary focus of this assignment. Assure the managers that no one will be able to identify them from their responses (and again, be sure to thank them for helping you with this assignment.)
- Also do some of your own research on each of the three manager’s organizations. Search for news articles about the company, review the company’s website, read the company’s annual report (if it’s a publicly owned company), see if you can find an organizational chart for the company, and if possible, visit and observe the company yourself. You might even talk to customers and/or other employees of that organization to learn more about the reputation of the company and how it’s viewed by various stakeholder groups.
- Take notes during your interviews, and then reflect upon those notes and what you learned from your assessment of the companies’ cultures to provide complete and well-supported responses to all parts of each of the following questions:
# 1 – worth up to 30 points) for each of the 3 managers, a statement of that person’s job title (e.g., assistant store manager), a brief description of his/her organization (e.g., a small retail clothing store – you don’t need to name the organization), and analysis of the organizational environment and culture of that organization that should address the following:
- components of the General and Specific environments that have the biggest impact on the organization (offer examples to illustrate)
- which of the (as described in the Module 2 slides) are more/less “typical” of this organization (provide examples to illustrate)
- key values that people in the organization believe in and which guide their behavior
- Social Responsiveness Strategy (as described in Chapter 4) that appears most consistent with the organization (again, offer examples)
- how the company encourages ethical behavior
#2 – worth up to 15 points) for each of the 3 organizations, offer an analysis of the organizational structure and strategy, that should include the following:
- whether the structure is more mechanistic or organic, centralized or decentralized, and the type of organizational structure (refer to Chapter 9 and explain if the company’s structure is consistent with functional departmentalization, or customer departmentalization, etc). Provide examples to illustrate.
- process used by the organization (and the role the manager plays in that process) for planning… and whether the managers tends to face more structured or unstructured decisions (provide examples to illustrate)
- what type of industry-level strategy (e.g. cost leader, differentiation, focus cost leader, etc) is used by the organization. Again, offer examples to illustrate
#3 – worth up to 15 points) discussion of similarities and/or differences in how the 3 managers spend their time, and the skills and behaviors demanded of them that includes the following:
- type of manager (e.g., top, middle level, supervisory, team) and key managerial roles each manager takes on (refer to Chapter 1 for Mintzberg’s managerial roles)
- relative importance of the different types of managerial skills (e.g., technical, human, conceptual)
- relative importance/time devoted to the various functions of management (i.e., planning, organizing, leading, controlling)
#4 – worth up to 30 points) – explanation of what YOU think it really takes to be a successful manager, based on your findings from the manager interviews, that includes thoughtful and well supported consideration of:
- what the managers find most challenging and rewarding
- advice/insights gained from the managers on what it takes to be a successful manager
- how their years of managerial experience might influence their approach
- what you found most helpful and what you found most surprising from interviewing the managers
- connections you see between what the managers told you and key points from either The First Time Manager, The Making of a Manager, or My Secret Life on the McJob book (use whichever book you chose for the Module 4 assignment)
- how this assignment impacted both (1) your understanding of management and (2) your own desire to be a manager
#5 – worth up to 10 points) Provide evidence of how you have thanked the managers for taking the time to help you with this assignment (copy of a thank you note, email, etc)
Questions you might ask during your manager interviews:
- Briefly describe your current position and some of your key responsibilities.
- What’s a typical day at work look like for you…what kind of activities take up a lot (or little) of your time?
- How would you define the job of a manager?
- What are the major stresses and challenges you face on the job? How do you tackle those stresses & challenges?
- What types of decisions do you typically make as a manager? Are other people involved in helping to make any of those decisions? What role do you play in the strategic planning processes at your organization?
- How would you describe the culture of your organization – how are people expected to behave and what values are considered most important by those in the organization?
- What do you consider to be some key differences between “average” managers and “top-performing” managers?
- When it comes to managing others, what turned out to be more challenging than you expected…and what was easier than you expected? (and for more experienced managers, you might also ask “has your approach to managing others changed at all over the years…and if so, how and why?”)
- What have been your biggest “managerial mistakes” thus far in your career…could you have avoided them, and if so, how?
- What are the most rewarding and most frustrating parts of your job as a manager?
- What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking about becoming a manager?