What do managers do?

There are four key roles of management in today’s business world, namely:

  • planning,
  • organizing,
  • leading, and
  • controlling.

You should note from this list of key management roles that a manager is a proactive position responsible for achieving organizational goals. This needs to be distinguished from a non-manager worker who is more likely to take direction and advice on their role. While the manager is responsible for implementing key parts of the organization’s plan, they also need to take responsibility for planning and organizing.

The planning function

Planning means working out how to achieve the goals of the organization. All organizations will have some form of goals – from top level growth and profit objectives, down to productivity targets for staff, and a lot in between.

The planning function is working out the tasks that need to be implemented in order for the organization to achieve these goals – planning is undertaken prior to the work commencing.

You have probably heard the terms strategic plan or marketing plan, which are two examples of high level plans.

Depending upon the organization and its process, these plans can be quite top level or could be very detailed – this will vary by type of organization and its approach to planning.

Organization function

The organization function is working out the resources and processes required to execute the defined plans. The level of organization will look at staff numbers, staff roles, job designs, teams, rewards, and so on – from a human resources perspective, but also needs to look at the equipment, tools, facilities, and other resources required to deliver on the plan.

Leading staff

Much of the success of an organization will depend upon the quality and motivation of the staff. Therefore, this leading function relates to motivation, incentives, resolving conflicts, training and development, problem-solving, and so on – all designed to leverage the skills and abilities and potential of the organization’s workforce.


The fourth key management function is controlling. Controlling refers to monitoring performance and ensuring that is on track to achieve the firm’s goals. Often this involves various measures and metrics that track sales, profits, productivity, outputs, and so on – often on a very detailed basis. The intent here is to ensure that the organization is performing a day-to-day basis as planned.

Interlinked functions

As you should see by the above discussion, these four management functions are interlinked. The process starts with planning, and then requires organization of resources, leading and motivating those resources, controlling and monitoring performance – which then leads back to improved planning, organization and leadership.