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A typical organization today is composed of many people working at multiple hierarchical levels. At the lowest level of the organization who perform operational work such as operating machines, cleaning premises, repairing equipments, and laying bricks. These are operational level people with almost no managerial responsibility. The report to managers or supervisors at the next higher level of hierarchy in the organization. These managers in turn report to managers at next higher level. This chain of reporting and supervising may continues for several steps till the highest level of the organizational hierarchy is reached. The actual number of such hierarchical levels varies widely from company to company. A typical organization may have about half a dozen levels of management from lowest to the highest.
Though people at all these levels of management perform management work, the nature of work they perform and the kind of systems and support they need to work effectively differ depending on the their level in the organizational hierarchy. To understand the nature of management work and nature of support systems appropriate at different levels of management, management experts and authors often classify the job of management in different levies of management, and study and describe typical nature of management tasks and requirements each level.
There is no common agreement on number of different management levels thus identified or the terms used to refer to these levels. The mos commonly used number is three levels of managements, which may be described as lower, middle and top levels of management. The most significant differences in nature of work at different levels of management pertains to the the relative importance of the management function of planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Managers at higher levels of management spend more time and effort on planning, organizing and controlling function, while the importance of leading in reverse proportion to the organization level.
There are substantial differences also in the kind of skills required by managers at different levels. Managers at lower levels are required to be much more proficient with the technical knowledge and skill associated with the particular type of operations managed. The Senior level managers, on the other hand, need to pay greater attention to the general skills of conceptualization. Human skill is some thing that is equally important for all levels of management.
The concept of levels of management also used frequently to identify the nature of information needed by managers at different levels. For example, lower level management often require information that is regularly generated internally at fixed intervals regarding past operations. The information is very detailed and structured. In contrast as we move up the management level the information required becomes more ad hoc, which contains a large amount of data collected from sources outside the organization, and which is more concerned with predicting future, rather than describing the past.
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