In order to find out the how the managers become more efficient, many researcher devoted themselves to develop theories on what exactly skills or abilities does managers need. In 1955, Robert L. Katz developed three essential managerial skills or competencies: technical, human and conceptual. He also believed that different levels of managers need different skills within the organization. More specially, Katz thought that top managers need conceptual skills, middle managers need human skills and first line managers need technical skills.
This essay will argue that first line manager not only need technical skills, but also need human skills(interpersonal skills), and will compare different views from researchers who support Katz’s ideas. An organization is a group of people with deliberate structure to achieve some specific goals. For an organization, a manager is someone who arranges and oversees the work of other people so that organizational goals can be achieved. A manager’s job is not about personal goals; it is about helping others work to do their work.
Therefore, a manager and his/her job in an organization are very important. According Katz’s theories, organization levels can be classify as top managers, middle managers and first line managers. This essay will focus on first line managers, they are the lowest level of management and manage the work of non-managerial employees who directly participate in producing the organization’s products or servicing the organization’s customers. First line managers may have a variety of tittles which are supervisors, line managers, office managers, team leaders or even forepersons.
In Katz’s opinion, first line manager need technical skills, however this essay will argue that first line manager need technical skills as well as human skills and do not need conceptual skills. Technical skills, are knowledge of and proficiency concentrated in a certain specialized field, which are essential for first line managers because they are managing employees who are using techniques or tools to work. Therefore, employees with better technical skills will often get promoted to the first line manager.
For example, firemen, computer programmers, lawyers and data bae administrators all need specific technical skills to perform their precise jobs. Likewise, a plant manager involved in hiring of a tool and die maker is exercising his/her managerial technical skills during the hiring process. Katz proposed that if a manager moves into higher levels of organization technical skills will become less important, but even top managers sometimes need some techniques in the organization’s speciality.
For instance, senior executives with an engineering background, working for a vehicle company such as Mercedes Benz, are likely to use their engineering skills in their position as managers when it comes to handling such as designing a new engine of vehicle. Analoui (1997, 1998) has extended technical task-related skills as Katz defined technical skills. One reason first line manager must have technical skills is that these skills allow the manager to train, direct, and evaluate non-managerial employees performing specialized tasks.
This essay considers human skills or interpersonal skills are also needed by first-line managers. Human skills or interpersonal skills represent the ability to work well with and understand others, to build cooperative effort within a team or an organization, to motivate and to handle conflict. Actually these skills are important for managers at all levels. Managers need to be care about their own attitudes, assumptions and beliefs, as well as being sensitive to their subordinate’s perceptions, needs and motivations.
In fact, Katz said that human skills remain just as important at the top levels of management as they do at the lower levels. Those managers with excellent human or interpersonal skills are able to get the best out of people. Human skills are primarily concerned with people (Katz, 1955). Plus Analoui (1997,1998) has labeled these people-related skills. However, the cluster consists of teamwork, dealing with conflict, communications, and creating organizational climate.
All of these specific skills are really similar to Katz’s original concept. For example, a manager communicating performance information to subordinate employees uses human skills. According to Mann (1965), human skills include an understanding of behavioral principles, interpersonal relations, motivation, and communication. If managers are going to provide performance feedback, coach and counsel subordinates, and otherwise provide productive work climate, human skills are essential.
Some researchers (Coulson, 1989; Holt and Holt, 1983; Jenkins et al, 1984; McConnell, 2004) have said that human skills are those which managers most lack and thus need the most development. Many of the roles of managers (e. g. interpersonal, informational) identified by Mintzberg (1973) may be part of human skills. Mintzberg, a management researcher, studied actual managers at work. He brought out 3 management roles: interpersonal roles, information roles, decisional roles. Especially interpersonal roles are quite similar as Katz’s human skills.
Mintzberg’s interpersonal roles include figurehead role which is about greeting visitors, signing legal documents; leader role which is related to performing virtually all activities that involve subordinates; liaison role which is about acknowledging mail, doing external work and performing other activities that involve outside the organization. These 3 roles are all about dealing with people inside or outside the organization. Most importantly, communication is the point. In Kotter’s research, he studied 15 successful general managers in a variety of industries in depth (more than 40 hours with each subject).
He found that managers spend long time interacting with others. These meetings provided needed information to managers and gave them a opportunity to give others information they needed. In addition, a wide range of topics was covered during such meetings with the focus on those relevant to the manager’s skills and responsibilities. Therefore, the more attention pay to human skills, the better first line manager manage the organization. Base on SylviaJ. Hysong’s study, there is no test directly relating technical skill to managerial performance.
His study aims to determine if technical skill provides any incremental value over administrative and interpersonal skill in the performance of first line managers, and also seeks to fill this gap in the literature, and proposes that technical skill can contribute incremental value to managerial performance, over and above what is contributed by other skills such as interpersonal and administrative prowess. SylviaJ. Hysong believe that technical skill will account for unique variance in managerial performance, over and above that explained by interpersonal and administrative skill.
As different researchers had different opinions on the importance of technical skills and human skills for first line managers, it does not come to a great acceptance that everyone considers Katz’s human skills as important for first line managers. However, it supposed to be known that managers at all levels need human skills to manger people as well as organization, including first line manager. In conclusion, further researches should be done to understand the important of technical skills and human skills for first line managers. Reference list 1. Tim O. Peterson and David D. Van Fleet (2004). The ongoing legacy of R.
L. Katz:An updated typology of management skills. Management Decision pg. 1297 2. Robbins, S. , Bergman R. , Stag, I. , Coulter, M. (2009). Management (5th ed. ). Frenchs Forest, N. S. W. : Pearson Education Australia. 3. Stephen J. Carroll and Dennis J. Gillen (1987). Are the Are the Classical Management Functions Useful in Describing Managerial Work? Academy of Management Review, 1987, Vol. 12, No. 1. 38-51 4. Matthew McElrath, Lynn Godat, Joanne Musson, Judy Libow, and Jamen Graves (2005). Improving supervisors’ effectiveness: Mayo Clinic finds answers through research. Journal of organizational excellence.