Skills of a Manager
A skill is the learnt capacity or talent to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy, or both1. In other words, a skill is an ability or proficiency that a person possesses that permits him or her to perform a particular task.
Technical skill is the ability to use specific knowledge, techniques, and resources in performing tasks. Examples of technical skills are writing computer programs, completing accounting statements, analyzing marketing statistics, writing legal documents, or drafting a design for a new airfoil 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. Indeed, many business schools throughout the country see their role as providing graduates with the technical skills necessary for them to be successful on the job.
These skills are the abilities to identify key factors and understand how they interrelate, and the roles they play in a situation. Analytical skills involve being able to think about how multiple complex variables interact, and to conceive of ways to make them act in desirable manner.
Decision Making skills
These skills are present in the planning process. A manager’s effectiveness lies in making good and timely decisions and is greatly influenced by his or her analytical skills.
These are important because using digital technology substantially increases a manager’s productivity. Computers can perform in minutes tasks in financial analysis, HRP, and other areas that otherwise take hours, even days to complete.
Human skill involves the ability to interact effectively with people. Managers interact and cooperate with employees. 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.
Effective communication is vital for effective managerial performance. The skill is critical to success in every field. Communication skills involve the ability to communicate in ways that other people understand, and to seek and use feedback from employees to ensure that one is understood.
Conceptual skill is the ability to see the “big picture,” to recognize significant elements in a situation, and to understand the relationship among the elements. Examples of situations that require conceptual skills include the passage of laws that affect hiring patterns in an organization, a competitor’s change in marketing strategy, or the reorganization of one department which ultimately affects the activities of other departments in the organization.
It is the ability to solve problems in ways that will benefit the organization. To be effective, particularly at upper levels, mangers must be able to do more than see a problem. They must also be able to design a workable solution to the problem.
Tasks of a Professional Manager
Specialization in every field, technological advancement, globalization of business results into appointment of qualified managers. They can be called as professional managers.
A professional manager is an expert, trained and experienced enough to adeptly manage any type of organization be it a manufacturing house, a service organization, a hospital or a government agency. Professional managers:
- Are objective, focussed and performance oriented.
- Help in meeting competitive challenges of business.
- Are creative and dynamic.
- Follow management practices based on world wide experiences and information.
- Apply theories of management to solve emerging organizational problems.
Some Professional Manager Tasks
Providing direction to the firm: The first task, envisioning goals, is one of the tasks that should never be delegated. This is the ability to define overarching goals that serve to unify people and focus energies. It’s about effectively declaring what’s possible for the team to achieve and compelling them to accomplish more than they ever thought possible.
Managing survival and growth: Ensuring survival of the firm is a critical task of a manager. The manager must also seek growth. Two sets of factors impinge upon the firm’s survival and growth. The first is the set of factors which are internal to the firm and are largely controllable. These internal factors are choice of technology, efficiency of labour, competence of managerial staff, company image, financial resources, etc. The second set of factors are external to the firm like government policy, laws and regulations, changing customer tastes, attitudes and values, increasing competition, etc.
Maintaining firm’s efficiency: A manager has not only to perform and produce results, but to do so in the most efficient manner. The more output a manager can produce with the same input, the greater will be the profit.
Meeting the competition challenge: A manager must anticipate and prepare for the increasing competition. Competition is increasing in terms of more producers, products, better quality, etc.
Innovation: Innovation is finding new, different and better ways of doing existing tasks. To plan and manage for innovation is an on-going task of a manager. The manager must maintain close contact and relation with customers. Keeping track of competitor’s activities and moves can also be a source of innovation, as can improvements in technology.
Renewal: Managers are responsible for fostering the process of renewal. Renewing has to do with providing new processes and resources. The practices and strategy that got you where you are today may be inadequate for the challenges and opportunities you face tomorrow.
Building Human Organization: Man is by far the most critical resource of an organization. A good worker is a valuable asset to any company. Every manager must constantly look out for people with potential and attract them to join the company.
Leadership: Organizational success is determined by the quality of leadership that is exhibited. “A leader can be a manager, but a manager is not necessarily a leader,” says Gemmy Allen (1998). Leadership is the power of persuasion of one person over others to inspire actions towards achieving the goals of the company. Those in the leadership role must be able to influence/motivate workers to an elevated goal and direct themselves to the duties or responsibilities assigned during the planning process. Leadership involves the interpersonal characteristic of a manager’s position that includes communication and close contact with team members. The only way a manager can be acknowledged as a leader is by continually demonstrating his abilities.
Change management: A manager has to perform the task of a change agent. It’s the managers task to ensure that the change is introduced and incorporated in a smooth manner with the least disturbance and resistance.
Selection Information technology: Today’s managers are faced with a bewildering array of information technology choices that promise to change the way work gets done. Computers, the Internet, intranets, telecommunications, and a seemingly infinite range of software applications confront the modern manager with the challenge of using the best technology.
A professional manager or a chief administrative officer for a city has duties which include meeting with elected council to determine polices that are determined by the council and to notify council members and citizens about the local government operations. Discussing of certain reforms, installing a bridge, setting up new traffic plans, or proposing a new building-all these and many more things which can affect community life are some of the responsibilities of the professional manager in a township. He is also responsible for preparing the annual budget, presenting it to elected officials for sanction and then implementing it, after it is approved. Listening to citizen grievances with regards to administration, civic problems, law and order and presenting the matter to the elected officials for appropriate actions are some of the tasks of a professional manager who is in charge of the administration of a city.
Role of a manager
Different managers perform at different levels and require different skills. To meet the demands of performing their functions, managers assume multiple roles. A role is an organized set of behaviors. Henry Mintzberg has identified ten roles common to the work of all managers. The ten roles are divided into three groups: interpersonal, informational, and decisional.
The three interpersonal roles are primarily concerned with interpersonal relationships. By assuming these roles, the manager also can perform informational roles, which, in turn, lead directly to the performance of decisional roles.
In the figurehead role, the manager represents the organization in all matters of formality. Some examples of the figurehead role include a college dean who hands out diplomas at graduation, a shop supervisor who attends the wedding of a subordinate’s daughter, and the CEO who cuts the ribbon on a new office building.
The leader role defines the relationships between the manger and employees. It involves directing and coordinating the activities of subordinates. It may involve – hiring, training, motivating, and encouraging employees. First-line managers, in particular, feel that effectiveness in this role is essential for successful job performance. 1
The liaison role involves managers in interpersonal relationships outside of their area of authority. This role may involve contacts both inside and outside the organization. The top-level manager uses the liaison role to gain favors and information, while the supervisor uses it to maintain the routine flow of work.
Receiving and communicating information are perhaps the most important aspects of a manager’s job. There are three informational roles in which managers gather and disseminate information.
As monitor, the manager constantly looks for information that can be used to advantage. The information gathered might be competitive moves that could influence the entire organization or the knowledge of whom to call if the usual supplier of an important part cannot fill an order.
In the disseminator role, the manager distributes to subordinates important information that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. Example: The president of a firm may learn during a lunch conversation that a large customer of the firm is on the verge of bankruptcy. Upon returning to the office, the president contacts the vice president of marketing, who in turn instructs the sales force not to sell anything on credit to the troubled company.
In the role of spokesperson, the manager disseminates the organization’s information into its environment. Thus, the top-level manager is seen as an industry expert, while the supervisor is seen as a unit or departmental expert.
According to Mintzberg, there are four decisional roles the manager adopts. In the role of entrepreneur, the manager tries to improve the unit. For example, when the manager receives a good idea, he or she launches a development project to make that idea a reality.
In the disturbance handler role, the manger deals with threats to the organization. Examples: An emergency room supervisor responds quickly to a local disaster, a plant supervisor reacts to a strike, etc.
The resource allocator role places a manager in the position of deciding who will get what resources. These resources include money, people, time, equipment, and information. This is one of the most critical decisional roles. Example: A college dean must decide which courses to offer next semester, based on available faculty.
Managers spend a great deal of their time as negotiators, because only they have the information and authority that negotiators require. The negotiations may concern work, performance, objectives, resources, or anything else influencing the unit. Examples: A company president works out a deal with a consulting firm; A front line supervisor may negotiate for new typewriters.