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What is a manager? Definition and meaning

A manager is a person who is responsible for – he or she manages – a part of a company which usually contains a number of people, i.e. he or she is in charge of the department and the people who work in it. In some cases, the manager is in charge of the whole business, as in a ‘restaurant manager’.

A manager is a person who exercises managerial functions primarily. He or she should have the power to hire, fire, discipline, do performance appraisals, monitor attendance, approve overtime, and authorize vacations. He or she is the boss.

The Manager’s duties also include managing employees or a section of the company on a day-to-day basis.

Qualities of a good managerAccording to the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), a good manager should have the qualities listed in the image above.

Etymology of manager

The noun ‘manager’ comes from the verb ‘to manage’, which came to the UK around 1560 from Italian maneggiare ‘to handle’ or ‘to control a horse’. The Italian word came from the Latin noun manus ‘hand’. The English word was also influenced by French manège ‘horsemanship’.



The Online Etymology Dictionary makes the following comment regarding the origin of the English word ‘manager’:

“1580s, ‘one who manages,’ agent noun from manage. Specific sense of ‘one who conducts a house of business or public institution’ is from 1705.”

Different types of managers

There are many different types of managers across the whole spectrum of a company’s or entity’s hierarchy.

Levels of ManagementLevels of management spread from right at the top of a company down to supervisors of small teams.

In this article when I use the word ‘company’ I am also including ‘organization’, unless otherwise stated.

– Top Managers are in charge of a company’s strategy – they are the stewards of an organization’s vision and mission.

– Functional Managers are responsible for the effectiveness and efficiency of specific areas of a company, such as marketing, personnel or accounts.



– Team Managers or Supervisory Managers are in charge of subgroups of a particular function, or a group of members from different parts of the company.

– Line Managers are in charge of the output of certain products or services. They hold authority in a vertical chain of command, and/or over a particular product line.

For example, in a vehicle-making company, the Line Manager might be in charge of the ‘small cars’ or ‘light truck’ division, or even more specifically, the ‘small cars marketing line’.

– General Managers are responsible for managing a revenue-producing unit, such as a product line, business unit or a store.

The General Manager has to make decisions across different functions within that unit, and is typically rewarded according to how profitable that unit is.

General Managers report to their top executives and take directions from them. The top executives explain what the company’s overall plan is, and then the General Manager sets specific goals for his or her unit to fit in with the plan.

Product Managers vs. Brand Managers

Product Managers, commonly found in technology companies, are usually considered the CEO of a product and are responsible for its strategy, roadmap, and everything related to its production, storage and sales. The position usually includes marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss responsibilities.

Brand Managers focus on the perception and maintenance of a particular brand. They are different from Product Managers. The Brand Manger’s job is often strategic, involving high-level curation of both the firm’s image and the practical steps required to maintain that image.

The Brand Manger aims to enhance, maintain and encourage interest in the brand – there is a strong emphasis on marketing and how the company is viewed overall. He or she inspires feeling, reactions and loyalty.

Brand management is usually associated with consumer product companies, while product management is associated with software firms. This is because consumer product businesses need a top of the mind recall of their products and brands because they mass market them.

According to Management Study Guide:

“Brand management is associated with consumer product companies whereas product management is associated with software companies. This is because consumer product companies need a top of the mind recall for their products and brands since they mass market them.”

‘Manager’ in other languages: Gérante (French), Gerente (Spanish & Portuguese), Manager (Italian & German), Менеджер (Russian), マネージャー (Japanese), 经理 (Chinese), and مدير (Arabic).

Video – What is a Manager?

This Pitblado Law video explains what a Manager is and what his or her functions are, according to the laws of Manitoba in Canada.