Levels of Management


Many organizations have multiple levels of management—top management, middle management, and first-line, or supervisory management. These levels form a pyramid. There are generally more middle managers than top managers, and still more first-line managers. Very small organizations may have only one manager (typically, the owner), who assumes the responsibilities of all three levels. Large businesses have many managers at each level to coordinate the use of the organization’s resources. Managers at all three levels perform all five management functions, but the amount of time they spend on each function varies.

Top Management: in business top managers include the president and other top executives, such as the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), and chief operations officer (COO), who have overall responsibility for the organization. Top managers spend most of their time planning. They make the organization’s strategic decisions, decisions that focus on an overall scheme or key idea for using resources to take advantage of opportunities. They decide whether to add products, acquire companies, sell unprofitable business segments, and move into foreign markets. Top managers also represent their company to the public and to government regulators.

Middle Management: Rather than making strategic decisions about the whole organization, middle managers are responsible for tactical planning that will implement the general guidelines established by top management. Thus, their responsibility is more narrowly focused than that of top managers. Middle managers are involved in the specific operations of the organization and spend more time organizing than other managers. In business, plant managers, division managers, and department managers make up middle management.

First-line Management: Most people get their first managerial experience in first-line managers, who supervise workers and the daily operations of the organization. They are responsible for implementing the plans established by middle management and directing workers’ daily performance on the job. They spend most of their time directing and controlling. Common titles for first-line management are foreman, supervisor, and office manager.

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