Manager Vs. Senior Manager: What Are The Differences?

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 6 February 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies may require several levels of hierarchy to function smoothly. Within management, a company could have senior and junior roles, with distinct duties and responsibilities. Comparing a manager vs. senior manager and their responsibilities within a company may help you know which jobs to target during your job search. In this article, we discuss the roles and responsibilities related to managers and senior managers and examine some fundamental differences.

Related: How To Become a Manager (With Essential Skills To Master)

Manager Vs. Senior Manager - Role And Responsibilities

Although a manager and a senior manager both perform administrative and supervisory duties, their exact role within an organisation may differ. Manager vs. senior manager duties may also depend on the company, domain and industry. These are some fundamental differences between a manager and a senior manager, in the context of their roles and responsibilities:

Duties and responsibilities of a manager

Managers commonly assume a supervisory role over a specific team in their department to achieve company goals. They typically have one to four years of experience managing teams and report to senior managers, directors, vice presidents or the owners of a company. These are some common duties of managers:

Oversee a small group of employees

Managers assume a leadership role as they oversee the efforts of employees within their department. This includes daily communication with key members of the team who work together to meet company deadlines. Overseeing several professionals at once means managers require exceptional organisational skills and the confidence required to assign and follow up with tasks.

Related: Nature Of Work Vs. Level Of Work: What Is The Difference?

Hire and train new staff

Managers recognise when the demands of a project exceed employee resources and often make requests for hiring additional staff members. Once the executive team approves their request, managers assist the human resources department in creating job listings, interviewing potential candidates, making job offers and training new hires. Managers may also perform periodic evaluations for employees and provide feedback and resources for professional development.

Related: On-The-Job Training For Efficient Staff Development

Support and coach existing employees

Employees often require guidance and direction from managers to complete projects. Managers help their team members by providing additional steps and resources that help employees move ahead with confidence. They may provide reassurance and praise when the team is meeting goals on schedule or working efficiently.

Related: Team Management Skills (Definition And Ways To Improve Them)

Monitor performance and conduct evaluations

Part of the management role involves monitoring the progress of team members. Those who are underperforming may need redirection or a special one-on-one meeting to determine the reasons behind their compromised performance. Top performers may earn additional incentives like promotions and bonuses. Managers often conduct annual reviews to gauge an employee's level of effort and enthusiasm in their role.

Set individual and team goals

Managers who make an effort to set individual and team goals commonly experience greater levels of success. This is typically because everyone knows their expectations. Individual goals help shape progress on a personal level, while team goals provide a clear direction for all roles involved.

Review expenses and budgets

Managers make decisions based on company budgets, which necessitates their involvement in overseeing departmental expenses. Referencing budget information determines the overall plan of action throughout the year, including any hiring decisions. Managers may work closely with accountants and finance professionals to ensure proper financial documentation for company activities.

Collaborate with multiple departments

It is common for managers of a department to team up with other department heads to achieve a company's goal. For example, in e-commerce settings, any changes to the website involving sales, content and other updates typically require collaboration between the marketing, sales and IT departments. The customer service department may require to be aware of the changes in sales, so they know how to handle customer inquiries.

Plan upcoming goals and initiatives

The specific duties of a manager often vary from one company to the next. Larger companies have multiple levels of managers responsible for different aspects of the organisation, like production, projects, administration, development, marketing, information technology and other areas. Smaller businesses and retail stores may have one general manager who oversees all employees, including lower levels of management, like supervisors.

Related: What Is Strategic Planning and How To Do It in 6 Steps

Duties and responsibilities of a senior manager

Managers in a senior-level position may possess many of the same responsibilities as a manager, though on a more strategic level. They often have five to 10 years of managerial experience and specialise in a particular area of business, like marketing or accounting. These are some common duties of senior managers:

Guide supervisors

Senior managers may manage supervisors and managers who work under them. They provide guidance and assistance to these professionals to fulfil their duties and perform well in their respective roles. Senior managers who are in charge of several supervisory roles may have significantly greater responsibilities than professionals in those supervisory roles.

For example, a senior marketing manager may be in charge of several supervisors and managers in the marketing department of a company. The managers and supervisors may be in charge of a team of executives. While the supervisors and managers guide their respective teams, the senior manager is responsible for the productivity and performance of the entire team, consisting of executives, supervisors, managers and clerical staff.

Approve hiring and termination requests

Managers rarely have the authority to hire or terminate employees on their own. Although they may evaluate candidates and provide recommendations, the final decision-making power usually rests with senior management officials. To perform well in their role, a senior manager can develop a comprehensive understanding of a company's specific needs, goals and work culture. Senior managers usually have several years of managerial experience and hence, may have the capability to make appropriate decisions relating to talent management.

Related: What Is Termination? A Complete Guide

Create organisational objectives

Typically, senior management officials are in charge of setting the organisational goals of a company. They usually employ strategic planning processes to identify, set and monitor such goals. This involves a variety of tasks, including:

  • Detailing a plan of action

  • Communicating expectations clearly

  • Setting a timeline for achieving goals

  • Assigning responsibility

  • Holding professionals accountable for actions and decisions

Related: What Is Organisational Development? (Goals And Benefits)

Make critical decisions

The increased responsibility that senior management officials take on is usually due to the nature of the decisions they make. Their decisions directly or indirectly impact the work of several other employees and often, the growth of the company. In many cases, these decisions are time-sensitive and a senior manager is answerable to a board of directors or company owners for the decisions they make. These professionals require good problem-solving skills, critical thinking ability and creativity to navigate professional situations with ease.

Manage department budgets

Senior managers may be responsible for monitoring the financial situation of a business. They may oversee budgeting, estimation and costing activities for the departments that are under their supervision. They work with the accounting department to prepare detailed financial reports and ensure that the company maintains proper financial documentation to avoid discrepancies. They may work with different department heads to understand their budgetary needs and facilitate a steady flow of funds, for a variety of business operations and organisational activities.

Improve employee performance

Managers may monitor productivity and performance for a team of executives. Senior managers also help to improve these metrics and the overall efficiency of the workforce. They analyse organisational procedures, company policies and work processes to identify areas for improvement. Once they identify opportunities for improvement, they work with other managers to create strategies to incorporate changes. They monitor and identify Key Performance Indicators or KPIs to understand how well their strategies work in a short and long-term context.

For example, a sales manager may periodically monitor the sales performance of the executives under their supervision to ensure consistent productivity within their team. A senior manager of sales may instead work with business consultants to identify methods to improve sales performance, without increasing the strength of the workforce. They may identify and implement new technologies and tools to speed up or simplify sales related tasks. This improves the productivity of each sales professional and the sales department.

Related: Performance Improvement Plan: Benefits, Process And Examples

Possess strong technical skills

As senior-level managers become more involved with different aspects of the company, they often take on more responsibility in addition to creating word documents and spreadsheets. Depending on their unique role, they may be required to learn specialised software founded on accounting and coding principles. They may also use a database management system and possibly enterprise resource planning software (ERP).

Related: Technical Skills: List, Definitions and Examples

Explore more articles