Who’re they: Functional managers are those who oversee business functions in a company. They are responsible for overseeing certain functions such as operations, finance, marketing, human resources, information technology, or logistics. They are accountable to executive managers for their functions. For example, the financial manager will report to the director of finance as the highest authority for the company’s financial area.
Why are functional managers important?
Indeed, functional managers are not responsible for the organization’s overall performance. They are only responsible for a certain business function. However, they have a strategic role. They help meet the strategic goals set by top managers.
Take a financial manager as an example. They keep an eye on the money going in and out of the company. They also make financial forecasts and budgets, manage the risk of financial loss, and direct investments. For example, if they budget poorly, it can lead to cost overruns and, ultimately, depressing company profits.
Another reason functional managers are important is that they provide top-level managers with information about functional areas for decision-making. Their input is vital to formulating a realistic and achievable strategy.
Then, because functional managers are closer to day-to-day operations – including customer relations than general managers, they generate important ideas that become key strategies for the company. Thus, top-level managers need to listen carefully to their ideas.
What is the difference between a functional manager and a general manager?
Functional managers occupy intermediate positions at the management level. In the chain of command, they link top-level managers with lower-level managers such as supervisors and foremen.
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Meanwhile, the general manager is in a higher position. They may oversee several departments such as operations and marketing. In other words, they are responsible for overseeing several functional managers.
Then, functional managers are responsible for certain business functions such as finance and operations. The functional manager’s responsibilities are generally limited to one organizational activity. Meanwhile, the general manager oversees the operations of the entire company or division. Finally, functional managers develop strategies in functional areas to meet the strategic objectives set by general managers.
What do functional managers do?
A functional manager’s roles and responsibilities will depend on their work area. For example, a finance manager has responsibilities such as preparing financial reports, creating budgets, directing investment activities, and developing plans for the company’s long-term financial goals.
Meanwhile, the human resource manager is responsible for employee recruitment, selection, training, development, and motivation. They also manage industrial relations and handle personnel matters.
What are the skills required by functional managers?
Some companies may require a bachelor’s degree for a functional manager position. Others may require a bachelor’s degree. In addition, professional certifications become highly relevant to their work, such as Certified Public Accountants and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) in the finance function. In human resources, there are HRCI certifications and SHRM certifications.
Meanwhile, the key skills as a functional manager are:
Communication skills. And to be more general, it is interpersonal skills. They must interact and process important information from those around them, such as the team and top-level managers.
Leadership skills. Being an effective leader helps to unite and motivate the team. Finally, everyone in the functional area is eager to move together towards a common goal.
Conflict resolution. The functional manager leads the team. And they need skills in managing and resolving conflicts within functional areas. It ensures the team works together, synergizes, and prevents future problems.
Effective decision maker. Not all issues have to be brought up to top-level managers for resolution. Some may be delegated to functional managers to decide. Thus, being effective decision-makers helps them decide on the best resolutions for various problems in their functional area.
Critical thinking. These skills are vital for making sound decisions or judgments. Therefore, functional managers must be trained to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize facts about a problem.
Financial management. Indeed, this skill is a must for a financial manager. But, it is also important for other managers, especially when they have to create and manage project budgets in their respective functional areas.
What to read next
- Functional Manager: Roles and Responsibilities, Required Skills
- General Manager: Definition and Brief
- Lower-Level Management: Examples, Roles and Skills
- Management Level: Why It Matters, 3 Levels
- Management Style: Importance, Type, When Appropriate Adopted
- Management: Meaning, Five Main Functions
- Manager: Definition, Interests, Types, Functions
- Middle-Level Management: Examples, Roles, Skills
- Top-Level Management: Examples, Roles and Responsibilities, Skills