What Skills and Competencies Do Successful Managers Possess?
In addition to recognizing that all managers-regardless of level, organization size, profit or not-for-profit enterprise-perform the four basic activities of management, we also need to determine what the critical skills are that relate to managerial competence. In the 1970s, management researcher Robert L. Katz attempted to answer that question. What Katz and others have found is that managers must possess four critical management skills. Management skills identify those abilities or behaviors that are crucial to success in a managerial position. These skills can be viewed on two levels: general skills a manager must possess, and the specific skills that are related to managerial success. Let’s look at these two categories.
- General Skills: There seems to be overall agreement that effective managers must be proficient in four general skill areas: conceptual, interpersonal, technical, and political skills.
- Conceptual skills refer to the mental ability to analyze and diagnose complex situations. They help managers see how things fit together and facilitate making good decisions.
- Interpersonal skills encompass the ability to work with, understand, mentor, and motivate other people, both individually and in groups. Because managers get things done through other people, they must have good interpersonal skills to communicate, motivate, and delegate.
- Technical skills: These abilities are based on specialized knowledge or expertise. For top-level managers, these abilities tend to be related to knowledge of the industry and a general understanding of the organization’s processes and products. For middle- and lower-level managers, are related to the specialized knowledge required in the areas with which they work-finance, human resources, information technology, manufacturing, computer systems, law, marketing, and the like.
- Political Skills: This area is related to the ability to enhance one’s position, build a power base, and establish the right F connections. Organizations are political arenas in which people compete for resources.
- Specific Skills:
- Controlling the organization’s environment and its resources. This includes demonstrating, in planning and allocation meetings as well as in on-the-spot decision making, the ability to be proactive and stay ahead of environmental changes. It also involves basing resource decisions on clear, up-to-date, accurate knowledge of the organization’s objectives.
- Organizing and coordinating. In this skill, managers organize around tasks and then coordinate interdependent relationships among tasks wherever they exist.
- Handling information. This set of behaviors comprises using information and communication channels for identifying problems, understanding a changing environment, and making effective decisions.
- Providing for growth and development. Managers provide for their own personal growth and development, as well as for the personal growth and development of their employees, through continual learning on the job.
- Motivating employees and handling conflicts. Managers enhance the positive aspects of motivation so that employees feel impelled to perform their work and eliminate those conflicts that may inhibit employees’ motivation.
- Strategic problem-solving. Managers take responsibility for their own decisions and ensure that subordinates effectively use their decision-making skills.