People hold management jobs at many different levels in an organization. You may qualify for a management-level job, but you will also benefit from understanding the different management levels to know where you fit within an organization.
The duties and responsibilities vary at each of these management levels, and the number of levels depends on the size, culture, industry, and stage of development of the company. Listed below are some of the management levels common in U.S. businesses, in ascending order.
For many people, their first management-level job is as a supervisor. The supervisor is a first-level management job. This individual is responsible for a small group of people, usually doing the same job or very similar jobs. Typically the supervisor has significant experience doing the work of the individuals they supervise. The supervisor usually handles work assignments, timekeeping and problem-solving. They are responsible for quality, motivation, and training. The individual at this management level usually has very little discretion or decision-making responsibility, and they usually report to a manager.
Some people do not consider project management as a management level, and project managers usually do not attend managers’ meetings. However, they perform many of the same functions as other managers. In several industries, this is a common first management job. A project manager does not have direct/line responsibility for the employees assigned to the project.
Rather the project manager is a matrix manager. A project manager is responsible for the planning, organizing, directing, and monitoring management functions, but usually in partnership with line managers on the other axis of the matrix. The project manager is responsible for quality, schedule, and budget, but not for the people-related functions like training and discipline. A project manager usually reports to a manager, director, or vice president of project management although they can report to any manager in the hierarchy.
A manager may be a first-level manager who supervises employees directly or a second-level manager who manages supervisors. The size of the company usually determines which. The duties and responsibilities of a first-line manager are similar to those of a supervisor although the manager generally has more responsibility for personnel, more HR responsibility, and more discretion. He or she usually supervises a small group of employees doing the same or similar work. The manager usually has a minimum of one to four years of experience. Managers typically report to senior managers, directors, vice presidents, or owners.
Some organizations have positions with the title of Senior Manager. The duties and responsibilities of a senior manager are essentially the same as those of a manager. They are responsible for the administrative and functional direction of a group of employees. They generally have more discretion and greater financial authority than other managers. Often, this title just indicates a person who has been on the job longer than their peers. Sometimes it is because they have the responsibility to guide or train other managers. On rare occasions, they actually supervise a group of managers.
A general manager supervises more than one function and often supervises all the functions of a company by supervising the managers of those functions. The general manager has wide latitude and a lot of discretionary authority. He or she has considerable financial responsibility and usually has P&L responsibility for the company or a large segment of it. The general manager generally is also the hiring authority for the company, although they may also delegate that authority to subordinate managers.
Other Management Levels
Organizations, especially larger ones, have other management levels and titles that don't have the title "manager" in them.