Companies looking for employees who could be good managers focus on individuals who have technical skills, human skills, conceptual skills, and the motivation to manage (Katz, 1974). The ability to adopt a specific set of behaviors that lead to the desired outcome is called a skill. Managers need the following key skills to carry out their jobs effectively.
To perform management functions and assume multiple roles, managers must be skilled. Robert Katz (1973) identified three managerial skills essential to successful management: technical, human, and conceptual. Technical skill deals with things, human skill concerns people, and conceptual skill has to do with ideas.
Technical skill involves process or technique knowledge and proficiency necessary to carry out a specific task. Managers use the processes, techniques, and tools of a specific area e.g. a heart surgeon, a pilot, an engineer, a builder, writing computer programs, completing accounting statements, analyzing marketing statistics, writing legal documents, or drafting a design for wings and body on an airplane.
Technical skills are usually obtained through training programs that an organization may offer its managers or employees or may be obtained by way of a college degree.
Human skills involve the ability to work with, motivate, and direct individuals or groups in the organization whether they are subordinates, peers, or superiors. Human skills, therefore, relate to the individual’s expertise in interacting with others in a way that will enhance the successful completion of the task at hand.
Some human skills that are often necessary for managers to display are effective communication (writing and speaking), the creation of a positive attitude toward others and the work setting, the development of cooperation among group members, and the motivation of subordinates.
Conceptual skills involve the ability to see the organization as a whole, understand how the different parts affect each other, and recognize how the company fits into or is affected by its environment. The conceptual skill involves the understanding of abstract relationships, and reducing complexity in order to develop ideas, and solve problems creatively.
Conceptual Skills allows managers to take action using technology more creatively using the organization’s people and assets to establish a competitive advantage. Examples of situations that require conceptual skills include responding to a competitor’s change in marketing strategy or releasing a new product that is difficult to imitate.
Levels of management
A manager’s level in the organization determines the relative importance of possessing technical, human, and conceptual skills.
• Top-level managers need conceptual skills that let them view the organization as a whole, and recognize how the company is affected by the community, customers, and the competition.
• Supervisors and team leaders need technical skills to manage employees who make products and serve customers, train employees and help employees solve problems.
All levels of management need human skills so they can interact and communicate with other people successfully.
Developing highly competent managers is much more complicated than developing trade or work skills.
• First, management skills are behavioral, they are not personality characteristics. Managers are not born they learn on the job so their behavior can undergo a change from the time they start as they progress and climb the corporate ladder
• Second, people can develop and improve their management skills through practice. Managers learn on the job and the wider the experience the more skilled the manager gets handling operational, human, and technical matters.
• Third, management skills are interrelated and overlapping – in other words, they need combinations of skills. This chapter looked at essential management functions, roles, and skills all of which a manager needs to be efficient and effective.
• Fourth, some of these management skills may be conflicting, for example, effective managers may be required to be both participative i.e. assisting employees, and directive i.e. telling inexperienced or unwilling employees what to do and flexible i.e.allowing for variation in interpretation and performance, yet controlled i.e. sticking by the rules, depending on circumstances.