Managers are classified by their level within the organization. For example, entrepreneur Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, on April 15, 1955, and his cash register rang up sales of $366.12 for the day. After this initial success he was able to convince others to join him. He became president and chief executive officer of McDonald's, a management position he held for more than twenty-five years. Today, the franchise system he founded has sales of more than $7.4 billion, is the biggest owner of commercial real estate in the United States and employs more than 80,000 people in its more than 14,100 stores worldwide. In contrast, the operator of a McDonald's restaurant in Moscow with twenty-five employees also is a manager. Although both men can be called managers, their jobs aren't the same. The goals, tasks, and responsibilities of the store manager are much different from those of the CEO.
First-Line Managers. In general,first-line managers are directly responsible for the production of goods or services. They may be called sales managers, section chiefs, or production supervisors, depending on the organization. Employees who report to them do the organization's basic production work — whether of goods or of services. For example, a first-line manager at Freedom Forge supervises employees who make steel, operate and maintain machines, and write shipping orders. The sales manager at a U.S. Toyota dealership supervises the salespeople who sell cars to customers in the showroom. A Toyota sales manager in Japan works in an office that has computers and telephones similar to a telemarketing center and supervises sales people who go to people's homes to sell them their cars.
This level of management is the link between the production or operations of each department and the rest of the organization. However, first-line managers in most companies spend little time with higher management or with people from other organizations. Most of their time is spent side-by-side with the people they supervise.
First-line managers often lead hectic work lives full of interruptions. They communicate and solve problems within their own work areas. Many first-line managers today are team leaders in self-managed work groups. Regardless of the type of departmentalization found in today's organizations, these people are on the "firing line."
Middle Managers. Small organizations can function successfully with only one level of management. As an organization grows, however, so do its problems. Some managers at larger organizations must focus on coordinating employee activities, determining which products or services to provide, and deciding how to market these products or services to customers. These are the problems ofmiddle managers, who receive broad, general strategies and policies from top managers and translate them into specific goals and plans for first-line managers to implement. Middle managers typically have titles such as department head, plant manager, and director of finance. They are responsible for directing and coordinating the activities of first-line managers and, at times, such nonmanagerial personnel as clerks, receptionists, and staff assistants.
Top Managers. The overall direction and operations of an organization are the responsibility oftop managers. Linda Wachner, CEO of Warnaco, and Doug Key, CEO of Medstar Ambulance, are such managers. They have built their companies into large, successful firms. Typical titles of top managers are chief executive officer, president, chairman, division president, and executive vice-president. Top managers develop goals, policies, and strategies for the entire organization. They set the goals that are handed down through the hierarchy, eventually reaching each worker.
Top managers often represent their organizations in community affairs, business deals, and government negotiations. They spend most of their time talking with other top managers in the company and with people outside the company. For example, Lou Gerstner of IBM spends more than half of his time traveling, dealing with the media, and creating an impression of IBM that will influence customers and shareholders.