4 Types of Managers Within Every Organization


There is no such thing as a business without management. Even the smallest company has a leader, and most organizations have up to four different types of leaders to help guide the workforce to productivity and success. Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to learn more about business structures or a student eager to launch your career in management, here is a look at the typical for types of managers within a company:

Top-level Managers

The highest level of management, this tier is reserved for the top bosses within an organization. Often, top-level managers have titles that reflect their membership in the c-suite, such as chief executive officer (CEO), chief operations officer (COO), chief marketing officer (CMO), chief financial officer (CFO) and the like. As organizations become more complex, more members tend to be added to the top level of management. Larger organizations might have executive vice presidents and division directors as part of the top-level management team. In contrast, smaller organizations might have only one top-level manager: the owner.

Ultimately, top-level managers are responsible for the long-term success of a company. These managers have a significant amount of control over the policies, processes and projects involved in their departments, and they set both the goals and the strategies to achieve them. Thus, top-level managers must be willing and able to make decisions that will affect the entire company using information gathered internally and externally. Because the work of top-level managers is so intensive, demanding incredible expertise and involving high stakes, this management tier is typically the highest earning within an organization.

Middle Managers

The second highest level of management, this tier tends to link senior decision-makers with the workforce. Often, middle managers have titles that include words like director, chief supervisor and head. Like top-level managers, middle managers tend to operate within a specific field or department, such as sales, information technology, human resources or customer service. Usually, middle managers are only present in larger organizations with larger staff, but due to their importance, middle managers are often the first additional management roles to develop as a company grows.

Though sometimes maligned, middle managers are essential members of a business’s management team. While top-level managers develop broad strategies, middle managers translate those ideas into actionable plans and direct the next level of management through implementation. To function effectively, middle managers need to be impeccable communicators, capable of understanding and translating information across the organization to many different types and levels of workers. Many professionals work toward an operations management degree to reach this level of employment.

First-line Managers

The entry level of management, first-line managers are the bosses that most workers interact with on a daily basis. This tier of leadership might include titles like assistant manager, office manager, shift manager, foreman or section chief. It is possible to skip lower levels of employment and begin your career at this level of management, though you will need to enroll in the right degree program and build your network to gain access to management jobs.

Unlike managers of higher levels, first-line managers are focused entirely on operations within the company. Thanks to their proximity to workers, these managers are the first to identify problems and inefficiencies — such as poor quality materials, broken machinery, untrained labor or ineffective processes. In addition to developing strong connections with their employees, first-line managers are responsible for communicating about performance and progress with middle managers or top-level managers, who might need to alter strategies to ensure organizational success.

Team Leaders

The lowest level of management, this tier is no less important than any other. Team leaders tend to be employees who have been appointed leadership positions for certain projects or programs. Sometimes, the team lead position comes with an elevation of status and an increase in pay and perks. This is more likely if team leadership is awarded based on experience or skill level and if team leaders are tasked with more intensive responsibilities, such as developing timelines, training new team members or tracking budgets. Team leaders must report to their superiors within the management chain, so more senior leaders can make broader decisions about strategy and practices.

Every business has at least one manager, and most organizations have dozens of leaders with varying levels of responsibility. By understanding more about different tiers of leadership, you can build a more efficient organization — or at least enjoy a more rewarding career.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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