Managers: the guiding hands in an organization Essay

Lee Iacocca–President of Chrysler Corporation–and Mr. Green–who
owns a corner candy store–have at least one thing in common. Both are
managers. So are Raymond donovan, the Secretary of the U.S. Department
of Labor; Judy Martin, local branch manager for a supermarket chain; Joe
Bettencourt, the comptroller of a construction company; Mary Ashe,
manager of a private tennis club; and over 9 million other American
workers. Put all together, they’re quite a mixed bag. And, given
the definition of the term manager, they’d have to be. According
to the Standard Occupational classification Manual, managers plan,
organize, direct, and control the major functions of an organization.
Wide as that definition is, however, it does exclude some people who are
occasionally referred to as managers. For example, supervisors of
clerical and blue-collar workers are excluded because they rarely set
goals for the organization. Professional or technical personnel–such
as accountants, engineers, and lawyers–are also excluded because most
of their time is not spent on management.

This article points out some of the differences among managers in
level of responsibility, employment and utilization of managers by
industry, and educational attainment and earnings.

Who’s a Manager?

* Vice president in charge of international operations,

* supervisor of data processing,

* treasurer,

* hospital administrator,

* school principal,

* postmaster.

These are some of the job titles used for managers. (Lots more are
listed in the accompanying box, “The Many Titles of
Managers.”) The titles are numerous because they can reflect either
the specific responsibility of a position or the industry in which the
managers work.

The nature of a manager’s duties vary widely because
management includes many different functions, such as designing the
product that an organization will offer, manufacturing it, and marketing
it. Financial control–that is, keeping track of the organization’s
income and expenses–is another important management function. But
perhaps the most basic management function concerns personnel, for the
difference between a manager and a self-employed entrepreneur with no
employees is that the manager works through other people to reach a
goal. Managers, therefore, must be skilled at working with others.

In a small owner-operated firm with few employees, all management
functions may be exercised by one individual–the owner. But, as the
size and complexity of an organization’s operations increase, so
does the management hierarchy. Numerous functions–accounting or legal
services, for example–that may be contracted for in small firms are
often performed internally by large corporations. Giant corporations,
such as those found in the automobile and oil industries, contain
several layers of management, which are generally grouped in three
levels–supervisory, middle, and top. An example of such a hierarchy
encompassing selected managerial functions accompanies this article.

Supervisory or junior managers plan, schedule, and supervise the
day-to-day work of employees. For example, a junior manager in a
department store might supervise several sales clerks, keep records of
inventory and sales, and be responsible for insuring that adequate
supplies of merchandise are on hand. In a ceramics factory, a junior
manager might be responsible for seeing that machinery is properly
maintained, that the raw materials are available, and that production
schedules are met. In a government or business office, junior managers
might oversee and review the work of professionals. Junior managers
must be familiar with their firm’s products or services, thoroughly
understand work procedures, and have strong interpersonal skills.
Besides supervisory responsibilities, they may spend part of their time
on other work. They are found in every sort of organization directing
every kind of activity, such as accounting, data processing, inspection,
maintenance, marketing, personnel, research, sales, security, and

Mid-level managers, as their title indicates, hold intermediary positions between supervisory and top management. Their specific duties
and job titles depend largely on the way the particular organization
they work for is set up, but they would always be in charge of several
junior managers. In a very large corporation manufacturing many
products, a mid-level manager might be responsible for a separate
division that makes only a few of these products. In a corporation that
has a single purpose, such as a supermarket chain, a mid-level manager
might be responsible for all the stores in a region. Or the corporation
might be organized according to activities such as personnel, sales,
service, and production.

Top-level managers include members of the board of directors, the
chief executive officer–who may be the president or the board
chairman–and the vice presidents for major administrative units, such
as marketing or financial operations. These executives establish the
objectives of the organization and chart its future course. They must
analyze and evaluate large amounts of information to gauge the possible
impact on their organization of economic, political, and social trends,
technological change, and competition. They also coordinate the
activities of various administrative units within their organizations
and maintain lines of communication with middle managers.

Working Conditions

Like their duties and job titles, the working conditions of
managers vary widely depending upon their position, their employer, and
their industry. In a large corporation, a top-level manager might have
a lavish office and a private secretary, whereas a production line
manager might have a simple office and use a secretarial pool. Most
work a standard 8-hour day and 5-day week, but many do not. Some, like
those in newspaper publishing, regularly work the night shift. Others,
like hospital administrators, are on call 24 hours a day to deal with
emergencies. And almost all managers are expected to work overtime when
necessary. Other working conditions also differ greatly from job to
job. For example, managers in the construction industry work outdoors a
lot, while those responsible for a large region travel a great deal.

The pace of work also varies. In the radio and television
broadcasting industry, managers are subject to constant deadlines. For
hotel managers, checkout time can be particularly hectic. In retail
trade establishments, seasonal changes in activity are pronounced. In
the drug manufacturing industry, research projects may be long term,
scheduled for completion months or even years in the future.

Naturally, the degree to which managers work with other people also
depends on their particular job. Some, like those in restaurants,
automotive service departments, and social service agencies, are in
constant contact with the public. Managers associated with research and
development activities, on the other hand, may rarely deal with people
outside their office.

Earnings and Other Benefits

Managers tend to earn more than workers in other occupations. (See
table 1.) About 7 percent earned at least $52,000 in 1982; only 1
percent of the workers in all occupations earned this much.

Median earnings of experienced managers were $22,600 a year in
1982, 40 percent higher than the $16,100 figure for all occupations
combined. The median varied considerably from occupation to occupation,
ranging from less than $15,000 for restaurant, cafeteria, and bar
managers to more than $28,000 for nonretail sales managers. Variation
by industry was even greater, ranging from $17,000 for retail trade to
$34,500 in chemical manufacturing. As is the case in most fields, large
employers in major metropolitan areas tend to pay higher salaries than
small employers in rural areas.

Most salaried managers in the private sector receive additional
compensation in the form of bonuses, stock awards, and cash-equivalent
fringe benefits such as company-paid insurance premiums and use of
company cars. Limited available information indicates that this
additional compensation may, on average, range from 5 to 10 percent of

Top-level managers are among the most highly paid workers in the
country. Recent surveys of top corporations revealed that in 1982, over
500 executives had compensation (salary plus bonus equal to about 20
percent of salary) of at least $500,000. These earnings excluded both
fringe benefits and long-term income such as stock options, which could
add 30 percent or more to the manager’s total compensation. Other
surveys of executive salaries reveal the importance of the size of the
corporation. A top-level manager in a very large corporation can earn
ten times as much as a counterpart in a small firm.


Describing a manager’s duties is difficult, in part because
the occupation is so large. Managers held about 9.4 million jobs in
1982, about 80 percent of which were salaried positions. (See table 2.)
In most industries, the percentage of managers is roughly the same as it
is in the economy as a whole, about 9 percent. Finance, insurance, and
real estate, however, has a relatively high proportion of managers (17
percent); and agriculture, forestry, and fisheries has a relatively low
one (2 percent).

The largest groups of industries–wholesale and retail trade,
services, and manufacturing–are also large employers of salaried
managers; each has at least 1 million. Just 30 detailed industries out
of 378 employ 100,000 or more, accounting for about 80 percent of all
salaried managers. The employment levels and selected job titles unique
to these industries are shown in the accompanying box, “The Many
Titles of Managers.”

Self-employment is much higher among managers than other
occupations. Nearly 1.8 million managers (19 percent) are
self-employed. This proportion is more than twice the rate for all
occupations combined. Many self-employed managers work in retail
trade–an industry characterized by a large number of relatively small


Between 1982 and 1995, 2.7 million managerial jobs will be added to
the 9.4 million already found in the economy, according to the
Bureau’s projections. The employment of salaried managers is
projected to increase faster than the average for all occupations
through the mid-1990’s as business operations become more complex.
The number of self-employed managers, on the other hand, is projected to
decrease slightly–from 1.8 to 1.6 million–as large enterprises and
chain operations increasingly dominate business activity.

The projected change in employment varies greatly among managerial
occupations, as shown by table 2.

The employment of health services administrators outside hospitals
is expected to increase much faster than average as the health industry
expands and health services management becomes more complex.
Particularly strong demand will arise from the growth in health
maintenance organizations, group medical practices, and other health
care facilities such as emergency centers, surgicenters, and
rehabilitation centers for patients not requiring the full spectrum of
medical services. In addition, there will be great pressure to expand
skilled nursing and personal care facilities to accommodate the large
increase in the number of senior citizens.

Many managerial occupations are projected to grow faster than
average. Among them are bank officers and managers, automotive service
department managers, automotive parts department managers, hospital
administrators, retail trade sales managers, and store managers. The
growth in the number of bank officers will occur as banks expand their
services. Automotive service managers and automotive parts department
managers will increase to keep pace with the servicing and maintenance
requirements of the growing stock of motor vehicles. Growth in the
number of hospital administrators will result from the need to provide
medical care to a growing and aging population. Retail trade and store
managers are expected to increase in number because of the growing
number of chain operations.

Two occupations projected to grow as fast as average are hotel
manager and restaurant, cafe, and bar manager. They will grow because
population growth, higher incomes, more leisure time, and an increased
proportion of working women all add to the number of people dining out and vacationing. Wholesaler is another occupation expected to grow
about as fast as the average.

A few managerial occupations are expected to increase very slowly
or even decline between 1982 and 1995. For example, the employment of
elementary and secondary school administrators–which is highly
dependent on the level of enrollments–is projected to increase more
slowly than average. Although the present decline in the school-age
population will be reversed in the next few years, enrollments will only
be modestly above their 1982 levels by 1995. The employment of
postmasters and mail superintendents is expected to decline as postal
supervisors assume some of their duties. Captains of water vessels are
projected to grow more slowly than average; chief executives, general
administrators, and legislators are projected to change little; and
funeral directors are projected to decline in number.

Besides those in the above occupations, many managers are in a
not-elsewhere-classified group. In all probability, the employment of
these managers will change along with the employment of the industries
in which they work. Industries are generally divided between the
service-producing and the goods-producing. The service-producing
industries employ more people and are projected to grow slightly faster
between 1982 and 1995. Services–including business, health, and
educational services, among others–will account for about one-third of
all employment growth over that period. Finance, insurance, and real
estate are also projected to grow faster than average. Among the other
components of the service-producing sector, trade and transportation,
communications, and public utilities are projected to experience average
growth, while government is expected to grow more slowly than average.

The goods-producing industries include farming, mining,
construction, and manufacturing. The construction industry’s
rebound from its 1981-82 recession level is expected to be at a much
faster than average rate. In addition, building construction and
projects are becoming more complex; consequently, more management will
be needed to hold down costs and maintain efficiency. The manufacturing
sector is projected to experience average growth as it recovers from the
recession. Farming is projected to decline, while mining is projected
to grow more slowly than average.

How Do You Become a Manager?

Management is not usually an entry-level function. Some people
enter management training programs after completing college, but most
people who become managers start their careers in other occupations.
School administrators often begin as teachers, treasurers begin as
accountants, and store managers start out as sales workers.

To be considered for management positions, workers must first prove
themselves, showing that they can do their own work. In evaluating
candidates, superiors look for determination, confidence,
innovativeness, high motivation, and managerial attributes, such as the
ability to make sound decisions, to organize and coordinate work
efficiently, and to establish good personal relations with other

Potential junior managers may be given occasional supervisory
assignments and, shortly before or after assuming full-time supervisory
duties, may participate in management seminars and training
courses–offered by industry and management associations, consulting
firms, and institutions of higher education–lasting from 1 day to
several months. Training may also include rotational assignments to
other administrative units, plants, or overseas posts; service on boards
and committees; and serving as assistants to higher level managers.

A college education has become increasingly important in management
jobs. The proportion of managers with 4 or more years of college
tripled–from 12 to 36 percent–between 1950 and 1982, as it did for the
labor force as a whole. Managers have more schooling–14.2 median years
completed in 1982–than all occupations combined–12.7 years. However,
there is considerable variation among managers in specific occupations,
as shown in table 3. The median ranges from 12.7 years for building
managers and superintendents to 18.2 years for elementary and secondary
school administrators. On average, self-employed managers–many of whom
work in small retail trade establishments–have relatively little formal
education; more than 60 percent have only a high school education or

In highly technical activities such as engineering, data
processing, and complex manufacturing operations, a graduate degree in
business management can enhance one’s chances for promotion to
top-level management positions. Graduates with a master’s degree
in business administration from a prestigious school can often enter a
wide range of industries and many, especially those with previous
managerial experience, move up the management hierarchy soon after
employment in their new position.

Continuing formal education is also important. Industry sources
indicate that many top-level managers complete academic refresher or
“catch-up” programs, about 1 year long, at least two or three
times during their management careers.

For More Information

General information about managerial functions, training programs,
and career development is available from:

American Management Associations Management Information Services (for high school students) or Society for the Advancement of Management
(for college students and graduates) 135 West 50th Street New York, N.Y.
10021. National Management Association 2210 Arbor Blvd. Dayton, Ohio 45439.

Specific information may be obtained from the national
organizations listed under a number of headings–administration,
administrators, directors, executives, management, managers,
superintendents, and supervisors–in various encyclopedias or
directories of associations, available in public libraries.

For information on educational institutions offering a
specialization in business and management, consult directories of
institutions of higher learning, available in public libraries.

Consult the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, Fourth Edition, 1977
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration), for
a detailed description of various managerial jobs. Consult a number of
headings–administrator, director, executive, manager, superintendent,
and supervisor. A copy of this publication should be available in most
public libraries.


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