Manager’s Role and Total Quality Management


The process of management always involves planning, organizing, leading and controlling activities. It does not consist of a single act. Management in general is cyclical and repetitive. It involves a linear process on which it has a start and an end and it always considers the planning, organizing, leading, and controlling functions within the project duration. Moreover, management is a complex process whereby all resources within an organization are to be effectively utilized through proper planning, organizing, leading, and controlling in order to achieve organizational goal. It is for this reason that the importance of highlighting the role of the managers in whatever kind of company becomes necessary.

Organizational Structure and Quality Management

The employees are one of the biggest weapons of the company. They are the workers who ensure that the company is working right on target and the customers are satisfied with what the company is offering. This is the very reason why the organization sees to it that all the staffs are equipped with the right armament to keep them competitive and effective in their respective responsibilities.

The firm’s organizational structure reflects how people or employees interact with each other, how communication flows in and out the company, and how power relationships are defined between the management and the workers. It is by this reason why an organizational analysis is considered as the value-based choices made by the company (Wernerfelt, 1995). Needless to say, the organizational structure tells exactly how the jobs and responsibilities in the firm are formally divided; how different value orientations of organizations influence structure; and what are the importance of achieving high levels of production and efficiency by using formal procedures, centralized authority, direct supervision, and specialized labor (Wernerfelt, 1995).

Some of the most important facets of an organizational analysis is the ability to highlight (Wernerfelt, 1995):

  • Quality values that are involved by which the importance of maintaining high quality standards has been communicated to all employees and adopted throughout the organization.
  • Information and analysis which include the scope, validity, use, and management of data and information that support the quality management system, and are being done by the enablers – the human resource which are the most integral part of any organization.
  • The utilization of human resource utilization in a way that the full potential of each and every employee has been utilized. In the same manner, all employees are enjoined or being motivated to involve in teamwork production system, and in which quality education and training programs are in place for all employees.
  • Quality assurance approaches used by the organization and maintained by the human resource to assure the high quality of goods and services based on process design and control, and the assimilation of process control with continuous quality improvement.
  • Lastly, the knowledge of customer which ensure the organization’s knowledge and ability to meet the requirements and expectations of internal and external customers

Thus, in any organizational analysis undertaking, the ultimate goal is always to ensure continuum sustainability and competitive advantage of the company by ensuring that the employees – supervisors and subordinates – are providing and receiving feedbacks necessary for their continuum performance.

Feedbacks for Developmental Purposes

Normally, in a business environment, people – subordinates and supervisors alike – have the tendency to engage themselves in “impression management” system, particularly if they think that it will benefit their careers the most (London, 2003). Putting the best foot forward is always the goal of everybody. Getting the attention and the approval of the top management is of the top most concern. This is because impressions of the supervisor or the manager are always thought to be important and the controlling factor of the valued outcomes (London, 2003). More so, the impressions of the boss to his/her subordinates will enable to identify areas for improvements and will of course have a direct effect on the work, performance or career of the subordinates.

However the impression of the subordinates to the boss is not as important as the other way around. Even if the subordinate is ask for an upward rating, such impression can be viewed as developmental in nature but what ever the impression is will not have any direct consequence regarding the boss’ performance or career (London, 2003).

Thus, in a typical business environment, feedback for developmental purposes are given as a form of ratings of all the employees. Such ratings are affected by different human factors which may or may not provide an unbiased feedback.

“…Ratings are affected by social and situation factors, such as the opportunity to observe and the image of themselves that people try to convey. Raters’ motivation to pay attention, recall behaviors observed, and base their judgments on fact will influence the accuracy of their ratings. Having an incentive (e.g., a monetary reward) for accuracy and being asked to recall observed behaviors are ways to enhance accuracy…” (London, 2003).

There are different individual characters considered in providing the evaluation or the feedback for developmental purposes. Such characteristics include observation skills, self-monitoring ability and empathy.

Observation skills involve gathering and recording of data that represents job performance. This observation skill is done to give evaluation without judgment or bias. In this situation, the success and intensity of impact of the feedbacks for developmental purposes lie on the observers him/herself. (London, 2003).

Skilled observers understand the effects of individual characteristics and situational conditions on people’s behavior. Some people are better observers than others because they are able to monitor and recall cues in various situations. Good observers generally are experienced observers similar to the people they are observing, high in self-awareness, high in cognitive complexity, and socially intelligent and they are known for the ability to make swift and accurate judgments of other people.” (London, 2003).

Self-monitoring on the other hand, is an act of being sensitive to other people’ reactions. People with high self-monitoring skills can provide assistance to other employees especially n job situations where interpersonal sensitivity, such as a gender-nontraditional jobs (e.g., men in the nursing field) is at stake (London, 2003).

These employees must not only perform well, but also show that they belong in the role. They benefit greatly from the adaptive self-presentation skills of high self-monitoring.” (London, 2003).

Lastly, empathy is one’s ability to know and understand others’ feelings and emotions. People who have great skills to empathize have the ability to take the perspective of others and understand the situations in which they find themselves while maintaining a social distance from the people being observed. Also, people with high empathy have the capability to “distinguish between factors in the environment that influence a person’s behavior and aspects of the person’s past that influence his or her behavior” (London, 2003).

Clearly, from this point of view, feedbacks for developmental purposes are given not only to enhance the performance of the receiver of the feedback but also to give him/her an appraisal or commendation for a work done successfully. The approaches used in giving the right developmental feedback will always be based on the performance of the person and the observations noted by the supervisor and the peers.

Hence, feedbacks for developmental purposes can be in the form of negative or a positive feedback. Positive feedbacks are the judgments which imply that the observer is satisfied with the performance of the person being observed. Negative feedback, on the other hand, refers to judgments that serve as criticisms and imply a need for changes. Naturally, any receiver of the feedbacks would be delighted upon receiving a positive feedback and would feel disappointment and will later on fear the negative feedback.

But there is another way of viewing positive and negative feedbacks. Feedbacks is said to be positive if it offer learning. Moreover, a feedback is considered positive if its impact may be in the form of motivating the recipient, for example, by increasing confidence, making new meaning, increasing understanding, helping to make links and connections. Meanwhile, a feedback is perceived to be negative if does nothing but demotivate the recipient. Such demotivation may be in the form of discouraging, being overly judgmental, critical, giving unclear or contradictory messages and encouraging dependence on others for assessing progress (Askew, 2000).

Feedbacks for developmental purposes sometimes encourage comparison and competition among the employees.

The belief that comparisons between individuals encourage people to work harder to achieve their goals needs to be challenged. Comparison can lead to competition and may result in some individuals giving up, feeling they are failures and evaluating their abilities negatively.” (Askew, 2000)

Feedbacks with Administrative Purposes

Feedbacks with administrative purposes are significant particularly in situations wherein the subordinates are dependent on the supervisor what normally happens with the new employees, trainees, or people in highly structured jobs. In other instances, supervisors (who normally give this type of feedbacks) are already trained or experienced in acting as a “counselor” that will enable him/her to strategically and effectively react to problems such as how to deal with subordinates who have an “inflated self-evaluation or, conversely, an unnecessarily self-deprecating view” (London, 1997).

Evidently, feedbacks with administrative purposes are the role of the top management or the supervisors. They are to over the business and an important part of the business is the human resource. It is the supervisors’ job to provide clear instructions on how things should be done especially if the type of business is highly structured. It is the responsibility of the supervisors to maintain continuity of flow in the whole business operation by guiding and overseeing the workers and seeing to it that every step is followed. It is also imparted in the responsibilities of the supervisor to ensure that he/she handles properly the different types of problems that the subordinates may encounter especially if its about their evaluation, appraisal and growth.

Role of the Managers

Managers cannot be classified as a standardized group (Mintzberg, 1980), this only means that their role expectations vary and/or depends on different situations. However, there are specific classifications of the roles that most managers do. However big or small the organization they belong with, their roles usually fall under these classifications. These include

  1. interpersonal roles (leader, liaison, and figurehead),
  2. informational roles (disseminator, monitor, and spokesperson), and
  3. decisional roles (disturbance handler, entrepreneur, negotiator, and resource allocator).

It should be noted that managers at different hierarchical levels place different emphases on the roles in such a way that there can be differences in the perceived importance of each of the role orientations and can be influenced by hierarchical level (Mintzberg, 1980).

Patricia Buhler (1998) on the other hand has a more generalized view on the roles of the managers. According to her, because it is very evident that the economic trend nowadays are changing speedily, it is also evident that structures of the many businesses also changed, thereby affecting and also altering the roles of the workers. Needless to say, the roles of the managers have also changed to adapt with the changing times.

It was suggested in Buhler’s article (1998) that there are four primary functions of the managers: planning, controlling, directing and staffing. From the very beginning that organizational hierarchy and/or structure was introduced, this has been the managerial functions that is being followed, only not, there are some touch of modernization added to it.

Managers have always been tasked to take part in planning to and for the company. Not so long ago, it was believed this planning varied by organizational level. That is, top management planned in the longest time horizon and engaged in more strategic planning. Middle managers planned in a medium time horizon and lower level managers engaged in more operational planning that was shorter term. Today, however, all managers are being asked to engage in strategic planning. The responsibilities for strategic management are being delegated down the organizational pyramid with all managers responsible for taking a long-term view of the organization (Buhler, 1998).

In terms of staffing, managers are expected to man directly and see to it the right person is placed in the right job within the organization. This staffing responsibility today also involves ensuring the person-job-organization fit is made. This means that managers are not only concerned with staffing the position with the right person, but also ensuring the person “fits” with the organization taking into account organizational culture. Two decades ago this fit was not part of the staffing decision-making process. Today, however, it is recognized certain personality types fit better with specific organizational types (Buhler, 1998).

Controlling has always been the responsibility of the managers. Control today is tied to technology. The role of control has been changed with technological advancements. Some of the control has even been “replaced” with computers, as they monitor employee performance on jobs that was once monitored by human managers. The role of control has also been reexamined from an ethical perspective. That is, employees do not want to be controlled and the move is toward self-control on the part of employees (Buhler, 1998).

Directing function is the last, but certainly not the least important role that managers do. It is the manager’s responsibility to determine the one best way to perform the job and the worker’s responsibility was to perform the job in that one best way. The manager, then, directed the employee in how to perform the job. Much of the decision making was removed from the employee’s hands. However, it should also be noted that managers should also engage themselves in coaching and mentoring rather than just the traditional directing (Buhler, 1998).


As mentioned above, managers perform a set of duties and responsibilities that they canoe disregard. Thus, it is highly important for any manager to attain leadership qualities in order to succeed in his role in the company.

In a simple definition, leadership is about directing and influencing. The ultimate goal of leadership is improvement. This has been added in some researches that effective leaders always want to improve until the project is perfectly done (Francis, et. al., 1994).

Even in the early years of Plato and Socrates as philosophers, leadership as a topic has been an interest in almost every community. In this world where global warming has been an issue in every household, leadership is still the same in every conversation and always been the reason in every success not only to individuals and organizations, but also to sectors, regions and nations. It is even noted that “leadership appears to be, like power, an ‘essentially contested concept’” (Francis, et. al., 1994).

In another definition, leadership is a process rather than an event. Change of situations can affect the roles and behaviors of leaders and the followers around them. Leaders are often regarded as respectable, influencing and responsible model to each and every follower. While problems may be posed on the definition of leadership, there are still qualities that make them an effective one. Williams (2005) identified seven qualities of effective leaders. These are thoroughly discussed below:


Each and every individual, old or young, has his own vision no matter what or how the society may dictate it. A vision is dream of what an individual wants to be, may it be success in a certain degree of his life. It the over-all picture what he wants to achieve for his lifetime, for example for his volleyball team in their entire varsity team. This vision can only be achieved if everyone in the team will struggle and compete for it. The leader and the aspiring leaders should learn how to encourage each and every one to have a vision and hold it for the rest of their lives until this will be fulfilled.


The vision which was formed should be clearly communicated to the team. This should be done in a persuasive and effective manner to get the expected outcome in every activity. Communication is one important factor in achieving vision and goals. Early building of effective communication can build people’s confidence and communication skills.

People skills

A good and effective communication skill is only one factor but what makes it more special is the relationship with the people around. It is when an adult is faced with challenges in life he become responsible in building bridges. Motivating, resolving conflicts, listening, affirming, praising and building community are just few of the people skills that each and every individual needs in dealing the day-to-day encounters with people—these people who may in another way an inspiration to build dreams and achieve goals in the future.


Character at its best always counts. People tend to follow and respect a leader who has a character that is true not only to him but also to the constituents. As John Maxwell observed, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the leader’s vision.” This only means that people are more attracted with how the leader is able to portray himself in front of the people rather than how he presents his vision, mission and goals. So the leaders should keep in mind that good character traits such as strong work ethic, humility, honesty, integrity, personal responsibility, social responsibility, self-discipline, courage, kindness, fairness, tolerance, and respect for others can build relationships and earn respect.


Along with character, competence of a leader should come hand in hand. From the root word compete; a leader with this quality will surely win since he has always a positive outlook with life. In a group or a team with such kind of leader, it is not a question then whenever this team wins. On the other hand, competence comes from having experience (a proven track record), learning how to delegate, and approaching every task with a commitment to excellence.


Boldness is being daring. It is like the courage of taking risk in every circumstance that might not lead to a good result but still would want to pursue it. If a leader is bold, he is willing to take chances in any way he can just to ensure that his goals and vision are met. This is sometimes a difficult quality to learn but when it is already learned, it is worth it. Leaders must learn to be courageous, risk-taker, adventurous and overcome shyness, timidity, and a tendency to play it safe.

Servant hood

A good leader is also a good follower. True leadership is not about being “the boss” but about being a servant. Everybody should be taught how to be humble in any way they can and not be boastful of what they have. Instead inculcate in their minds that being a leader is not an opportunity to be arrogant but always be challenged to serve and inspire every individual.

Leadership skills and styles

Unlocking leadership potentials in an individual can lead to another level of leading. And leadership styles will further reveal what a leader should have and should be.

It may be a passé questions but it is always asked if leaders are born or made? This has been an issue ever since leadership was defined. Every one has the potential to become a leader. Leadership can always be learned may it be outside the home, inside the company or even along the streets. The challenge with this is that others may be better than what is expected from others. But this can always be supported with trainings and experiences and of course practice.

It is a process where individuals are taught to depend on each other in achieving one’s goal. Members or even the leader can influence the team in one way or another without sacrificing the ideas and relationship.

While leadership demands no specific age, gender, ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation, students learn that these elements may influence an individual’s leadership style.

There are four situational leadership styles identified:

Style 1 – The “Directing/Telling” Leader; Situation: (Group members are – unwilling and unable)

This style is appropriate when the members are new or inexperienced and need a lot of help, direction and encouragement in order to get the job done. The feeling or relationships within the group are not explored to a great extent. This leader provides structure and guidance to the group. The leader defines the role of group members and directs them on what, how, when and where to do various tasks. A supportive role may also be provided to reward and encourage.

Style 2 – The “Coaching/Selling” Leader; Situation: (Group members are – willing but unable)

Here the group is a little more responsible, experienced and willing. The leader’s main role is to assist the members in doing a task for which they do not have the skills. The leader coaches the members through the skills of the task. Direction and guidance are necessary. The leader also provides plenty of encouragement and inspiration to maintain the willingness (motivation) of the group.

Style 3 – The “Participating/Supportive” Leader; Situation: (Group members are – unwilling but able)

Leaders using this supportive style know the group has the ability to do the job. However, the group may be unwilling (apprehensive, bored, etc.) to start or complete the task. Therefore, the group members and leader participate in making decisions and carrying them out together. Here, the leader puts more emphasis on relationships and individuals’ feelings within the group. Members feel important when the leader provides moral support and encouragement. The leader is a resource person and helper in this role.

Style 4 – The “Delegating/Trusting” Leader; Situation: (Group members are – willing and able)

A leader will choose to be a delegator when the group members are both willing and able to take responsibility for directing their own behavior. The leader trusts the group to do their own thing and observes from a distance.

In other studies, the three different styles of leadership were identified in particular around decision-making. This includes (Torbert, and Schnieder, 1986):


In the autocratic style, the leader takes decisions without consulting with others. The decision is made without any form of consultation. In Leakey and Lewin’s experiments (1995), they found that this caused the most level of discontent.

An autocratic style works when there is no need for input on the decision, where the decision would not change as a result of input, and where the motivation of people to carry out subsequent actions would not be affected whether they were or were not involved in the decision-making (Torbert, and Schnieder, 1986).


In the democratic style, the leader involves the people in the decision-making, although the process for the final decision may vary from the leader having the final say to them facilitating consensus in the group.

Democratic decision-making is usually appreciated by the people, especially if they have been used to autocratic decisions with which they disagreed. It can be problematic when there are a wide range of opinions and there is no clear way of reaching an equitable final decision (Torbert, and Schnieder, 1986).


In laissez-faire style, the leader does not involve in decision-making, but there is a democratic way of getting decisions and they may still be responsible for the outcomes.

It will work best when people are capable and motivated in making their own decisions, and where there is no requirement for a central coordination, for example in sharing resources across a range of different people and groups (Torbert, and Schnieder, 1986).

Leadership styles are more varied in America today than in Asia. In America there are five (Leakey and Lewin, 1995):

  • Directive
  • Participative
  • Empowering
  • Charismatic
  • Celebrity (superstar)

First four will focus mostly on company deals while the last one is directed at people outside the company. Directive leadership is well known in America, but is declining in frequency. It stresses the direction given by executives to others in the firms. The leader is very much in charge. This style is very common in Asia.

Participative leadership, which involves close teamwork with others, is more common in Europe, where it is sometimes required by law (as in northern Europe, especially Germany) than in America. It is also common in a variant colored by national cultural norms, in Japan.

Empowering leadership is relatively new, and stresses delegation of responsibility to subordinates. American companies that operate with largely autonomous divisions employ this style of leadership. A few younger Asian business leaders now espouse this style (for example, the CEO of Banyan Tree Resorts).

At the core of empowering leadership is the ability to energize the people in a company. Jack Welch commented, “You may be a great manager, but unless you can energize other people, you are of no value to General Electric as a leader.” Energizing others is the core of the new leadership in America.

Charismatic leadership is the leader who looks like a leader. People follow such a leader because of who he is, not because of good management or even business success; nor because [the people] are offered participation, partnership, or empowerment. Human magnetism is the thing, and it is very different in different national cultures. What looks like a charismatic leader to Americans may appear to be something very different to people from other societies.

Celebrity leadership is very different. It looks outside the company to the impact on others—customers and investors. The head becomes a star and is sought after by the media like a screen star. Ordinarily it requires good looks, a dramatic style, and an ability to deal effectively with the media. It is in a bit of a slump in the United States right now due to the corporate financial reporting scandals, which have focused attention on CEOs with the ability to get things done right in the company; but celebrity leadership will make a recovery. Boards looking for top executives to revitalize a firm look for superstars; they seek outgoing personalities.

On Quality Management

Three findings may be highlighted fro a research done by Dawn Edwards (2005). First, on the “focus” side: becoming a customer-led organization raises the debate from turf battles to teamwork; customers or markets are often useful guides precisely because they transcend the corporation’s existing functional boundaries and allow teams to analyze opportunities and allocate resources objectively. Second, if the focus is correctly adjusted–through strategic simplicity, relentless prioritization of the questions that matter most, and the alignment of the organization’s resources to actual needs–then the benefits are substantial.

This internal cultural change will in turn drive innovation, improve transactional speed, and produce substantive results. Third, cultural change is fundamentally a collective, collegial exercise in which sensitivity to the particularities of context is all-important. No single approach will be effective in all circumstances.

Yet if success is a matter of shared responsibility, it would be naive to suggest that responsibility is shared equally. In instigating the process of re-assessment and managing the dynamic tension that results from initiating reforms–determining the point where countervailing forces are counterpoised most beneficially and creatively–there remains a role, albeit a heavily modified one, for “heroic” leadership. Personal courage is inevitably required to inaugurate (and maintain) any process of change management, not least because a decision to retain the status quo, or to resist calls to change course, often seems the easiest and least risky management decision.

While change for change’s sake can often be a spurious substitute for properly focused leadership, the avoidance of change can be equally culpable: the result of either timidity or complacency, and the very opposite of effective leadership. However, once a properly informed decision has been made as to the need for change–usually a moment that requires individual leadership–the paradox is that, when it comes to implementation, “leadership” is fundamentally a group exercise. Leaders are constantly asking the seemingly unreasonable by requesting that individual team members make a total personal commitment to a particular program of action in the context of a future that is predominantly uncertain (Kacena, 2002).

The needs of organizations feature strongly in workplace learning approaches, however, individual, subjective issues such as attitudes, commitment, motivation and self-image, have been included as these are particularly important for any successful learning. People will only adopt new ideas, knowledge or skills if they are interested in learning, or find some benefit for themselves in doing so. Understanding the relationship between inputs, outputs and outcomes will assist in harnessing the involvement of individuals in the learning process.

Clearly workplace learning can address many of the current and future needs of managers and leaders, and can take many forms–both formal and informal. However, it is not something that can be done overnight; but a long-term commitment by both the organization and the individual. As organizations begin to see the benefits of workplace learning activities they will become increasingly committed to developing more focused programmes to meet their specific organizational needs, which will help to maintain the momentum (Kaydo, 2000).

A long-standing method of transferring knowledge and understanding within an organizational setting, that has stood the test of time, is mentoring. The perception of mentoring is as varied as the concept of the mentor. This is a reflection of both concept differences, and participant expectations. Spencer (1996:5) described mentoring as ‘a relationship which gives people the opportunity to share their professional and personal skills and experiences, and to grow and develop in the process’.

Many organizations have recognized that much of the learning and development of employees does not take place within the boundaries of traditional learning situations. Wallis (1998:15) argued that there is a “need for the organizational information, methods and culture to be transferred to other members of the workplace”, and this ‘learning transfer’ could best be addressed through the use of mentoring with its techniques of guided and assisted learning.

The benefits to be derived from mentoring are diverse and have both short and long-term impacts on the employee and the organization. The value of a given outcome and its impact (direct/indirect; short/long-term) will vary, and will be dependent upon the organization’s strategy (Carmin, 1988).

Changes in technology and economics are altering the way people live and relate. A global culture made possible through the ease of communications and travel leads to greater interaction between people and places. Global economic systems now transcend national boundaries and trading blocs – we expect ready access to use credit cards and banking facilities wherever people are present (Kacena, 2002).

The impact of globalization in the world city goes beyond the towers of concrete and glass to the lives of those who live in its shadow. The global dimension of the contemporary city sets new challenges as new technologies and communications create new patterns of social life. This is true not just for the business world and the affluent but also for the poor, particularly for minorities whose communities now stretch beyond limited geographical ghettos (Greenberg, 1998).

Goold and Campbell (1987) found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that ideal corporate management implicitly integrates leadership and management. They concluded that “virtually all executives want strong leadership from the center, coordinated strategies that build in a variety of view points, careful analysis of decisions, long-term thinking and flexibility. But they also want autonomy for unit managers, clear accountability, the freedom to respond entrepreneurially to opportunities, superior short-term results, and tight controls.” The problem is that these two sets of desiderata contain mutually competing, if not mutually contradictory, demands on the leader-manager.

Thus, as business dynamics and contexts change, corporate leaders must adapt themselves fundamentally in order to maintain an effective integration of the leadership and management roles, and some form of equilibrium between the simultaneous expectations held of them: of strong central direction coexisting with unit-level autonomy; and of central long-term strategic thinking coexisting with a measure of tactical flexibility and freedom of action among subordinates.

Due to the constant change in an increasingly complex business environment learning in the workplace is a crucial part of any organizations planning and development strategies (Boswell, 1995 and Howell, 1995). Life-long learning, the continuous up dating of skills and qualifications, must become the norm, not the exception. Support for these ideas has been seen in a number of recent policies in Australia, designed to improve the skills of the workforce and decrease the growing skills gap; particularly the Mayer Report (1992) into the development of key competencies and competency based training.

If organizations are seriously “interested in developing the true capacity of its people” (Rylatt, 1994:15) they must be prepared to closely examine their existing policies, systems and activities to determine whether they are supporting or inhibiting workplace learning. Any industry/workplace wishing to introduce a new attitude to learning in the workplace will face an enormous challenge in convincing individuals, teams, and organizations of the importance of workplace learning for their future, and gaining their true commitment.

Mentoring has been widely recognized as a valuable method for staff development, transmission of corporate culture, and socialization (Mathews, 2005). A properly designed mentoring programme can be a useful, structured way to communicate, and transfer information related to the expectations of different management approaches to new and existing employees. Whilst it is only one method of facilitating learning in the workplace, it is designed to make use of guided learning to develop the knowledge and skills required for high performance in the workplace (Tovey, 1999:5), and can be geared to the specific requirements of any organization at any time.

It focuses on helping an individual to assess their experiences, and strengths and weaknesses, and provides guidance and support to enable them to make the most of opportunities (Appelbaum, 2000). Mentoring has been used by many organizations to address a variety of issues and problems associated with equal employment opportunity, high turnover, commitment, job satisfaction, and employee diversity to name a few.

Competencies encompass clusters of skills, knowledge, abilities, and behaviors required for people to succeed. In this case, it refers to success across the jobs in the workplace learning and performance field. The new workplace learning and performance competency model includes business/management, interpersonal competencies and personal competencies. These competencies are desirable regardless of an individual’s area of expertise (specialization) or role though not all workplace learning and performance practitioners will need each of them to the same extent. Interpersonal competencies include building trust, communicating effectively, influencing stakeholders, leveraging diversity, and networking and partnering.

In business/management competencies it includes analyzing needs and proposing solutions, applying business acumen, driving results, planning and implementing assignments, and thinking strategically. On the other hand personal competencies include demonstrating adaptability, and modeling personal development where actively identifying new areas for one’s own personal learning; regularly creating and taking advantage of learning opportunities; applying newly gained knowledge and skill on the job (Shapiro, 1999).

A long-standing method of transferring knowledge and understanding within an organizational setting, that has stood the test of time, is mentoring. The perception of mentoring is as varied as the concept of the mentor. This is a reflection of both concept differences, and participant expectations. Spencer (1996:5) described mentoring as ‘a relationship which gives people the opportunity to share their professional and personal skills and experiences, and to grow and develop in the process’. More comprehensive definitions have been presented by Carmin (1988) and Appelbaum (2000:19). These more closely reflect the complex nature of the mentoring process.


Managers’ responsibility may vary. Such variation can be the size of the organization itself. Using the size of the organization as an example, large companies and small companies have very distinct differences which include:

  • Number of employees
    • The number of employees or staffs in larger organization may be more than the number in smaller companies.
  • Scope of operation
    • The scope of operation of larger companies may be broader (like nationally or even globally) than smaller companies (which can only be in an area basis or just regional)

Hence, it can be expected that specific responsibilities of the managers in smaller company can be entirely different from the specific responsibilities of managers in large corporations.

Deliver and Monitor Service to the Client

Managers’ first specific key responsibility is to ensure that the products and/or services are delivered at the right time, in the right manner and at the right price to its intended consumer (Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment). They must ensure that the client will be greatly satisfied with the product or service and with the way it was delivered to him/her. However, it should not be expected that it will be the manager himself who will go personally to the customer, and deliver the product or service or accept the payment. His responsibility will be to assign the personnel who have the capability to provide the needed product or service and monitor this personnel’s performance.

This specific key responsibility will be slightly different depending on the size of the organization. In smaller companies, manager can still be the person who will deliver and provide the needed service or product for the customer. Her will personally assist the customer and ensure that he/she receives what she needed. In smaller companies, the manager can also assign one person to deliver or provide the product or service, but it will be the first-line manager’s sole responsibility to monitor if the service or product was delivered in the proper context.

In larger corporations the managers have various personnel to ensure that the delivery of product and service is done and monitored. There are enablers who will specifically provide the product or service and there are specific enablers who will monitor if the task has been successful. However, from time to time, the manager will check and evaluate the enablers’ performance.

Usage of Resources

Managers have the power and the control to utilize the resources of the company to achieve its goals (Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment). He can assess whether the company will benefit greatly if a particular resource will be allocated and/or used or not. Because of this, the managers can request for replenishment of supplies for the company and he, too, can utilize them whenever he deems it necessary for the business and for the people.

In larger organizations, managers are actually authorized to use or allocate the company resources in order to achieve the short and long term goals of the company. He may have several subordinates under him, who can actually request for supplies and then allocate each resource and distribute them to each area or department. It will be the managers’ responsibility to sign and/or approve the requests for resources of each department and make sure that the request is ethical and will be used to benefit the company. Even if he has different subordinates who are personally assigned to do the task, it will the first-line manager’s accountability to ensure that the in and out of company resources is working smoothly.

In small organizations, managers are still responsible for the smooth flow of company resources. Only this time, he may have limited subordinates to do particular tasks like requesting of supplies and then allocating them. In some instances, managers may be the actual person who will request and re-allocate the resources. He may also be the one to monitor that each employee has enough resources or supplies needed for his productivity.

Work Unit Plans

Managers are particularly responsible for the development and implementation of work unit plans (Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment). The plans will have to be aligned with the company’s vision and mission. It will be the firs-line managers’ task to make sure that each work unit’s plans are set and are properly executed. To ensure proper execution, it will also be the managers’ responsibility to evaluate if the plans are achieved in the desired fashion.

In larger companies, there are usually group head who initiate the planning. Normally it is done by area or by specific departments. Each plan will be agreed upon by all the enablers of each department or area and then the group head will be presenting the final plan to the first-line managers. Thus, the managers will have to check and validate if the area or department’s plans are aligned with the overall goals of the company. In terms of implementation and/or exaction of the plans, the group head will also be the one to evaluate the performance of each enable in each group unit and report the performance to the managers.

In small companies, normally there are no group units nor group heads as it will be the managers themselves who will initiate the planning and its execution. It will also be the managers’ job to evaluate the performance of the subordinates, if there are any.

Information Gathering and Analysis

Managers are also expected to gather information and analyze it for the company’s benefit (Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment). Information that is needed by the company may be about the competition, the market and market trends as well as the movement of the economy relative to the company’s performance and growth.

For larger companies, there are information researchers and analysts who are responsible to do these tasks, however every information that will be gathered will be reported to the managers. It will then be the managers’ job to assess the information provided by the researchers and do necessary action regarding it. He can either use the said information as a basis for the planning of the company or he can use it as the reference point for the next steps or movements needed by the company. The bottom line is, it will be the managers’ call on when to gather information, how it will be gathered and what to do with it once presented.

In smaller organizations, the managers are usually the person who also gathers information for the company. It will be the manager himself who will search about the market, the market trend and/or about the strategies of the company’s competitors. After thorough research, it will also be the manager who will assess regarding what to do with the information he himself has gathered. He has to make sure that whatever action plan he will make relative to the information will always be for the company’s full advantage.

Work Priorities and Professional Development

As managers they are responsible to manage personal work priorities and set room for professional development (Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment). They are to make sure that work assignments are given to the right personnel taking into consideration the strengths and comp entices if each and every personnel. At the same time, managers need to ensure that wages are given accordingly and salary appraisals are available whenever needed.

In larger companies, there is human resource department as well as group heads who check and evaluate each employee and make sure that wage and salary appraisal are given properly. More so, group heads and/or human resource departments propose trainings and developmental activities for each employee to make sure that their skills will be upgraded and strengthened. It will then be the managers’ task to assess the proposal for training and/or development and approve it if he deems it applicable for his people.

In small organizations, on the other hand, managers are the very people who look for venues to improve his people. If he has some people under his supervision, he will also be the one to make sure that they are receiving the right wage and that there are rooms for salary increase.

Innovation and Change

Managers are the very first persons who are expected to promote innovation and change for the company (Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment). They are to make sure that the ever changing requirements of the industry and of the target market are addressed to. To do this, changes and innovations are necessary from time to time. And because the first-line managers are the person who monitors the information for and about the company and that they are the one who maintains control over the resources, it is just to be expected that first-line managers also have the power to initiate change of the company.

In larger corporations, there are normally various protocols and steps before an innovation or change can be proposed and put into action. There are a number of people who will study if a change is necessary and then there are different sets of people who will do the proposals for change. The responsibility of the manager is to study each proposal and choose the most appropriate one for the company. In some instances, the managers will have to seek the approval of the higher management, such as the company owners or the stock holders, before any change can be implemented.

In smaller companies, normally it will be the manager himself who initiates plan for innovation. He can either implement such change or will have to talk with the company owner first before the change takes place. The big difference here is the fact that there are lesser protocols when it comes to smaller companies.

Indeed, managers hold one of the most important positions for the company. The specific tasks of the first-line managers may vary according to the size of the organization, however, the fact remains that they are the very person accountable for the company resources, for the people or employees, for the level of productivity of the company and for the overall performance of the company.


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