MANAGEMENT SKILLS

An effective manager needs skills to plan, control, organise, lead, and finally to take decisions. In each case, a manager must exercise a unique set of skills. 

  1. PLANNING SKILLS

As part of the management process you attempt to define the future state of your organisation. You are not trying to predict the future, but rather to uncover things in the present to ensure that the organisation does have a future. Hence planning skills will include:

  • being able to think ahead;
  • ability to forecast future environmental trends affecting the organisation;
  • ability to state organisational objectives;
  • ability to choose strategies that will help in attaining these objectives with respect to future trends; and
  • ability to arrive at performance standards or yardsticks for monitoring the implementation of these strategies, etc.

With growing complexity in the operations of large organisations, managers are expected to acquire skills to interact with intermediate planning systems such as a computer. 

  1. ORGANISING SKILLS

As you have seen, planning specifies the future course of direction of an organisation. The organising process follows the planning process. ‘While planning specifies what will be achieved when, organising specifies who will achieve what and how it will be achieved.

To understand the organising process involving the people and jobs in an organisation, let us discuss a situation in a bank. Suppose you happen to be a teller (person who sits behind the service window) in a bank. Your job requires transacting deposits, withdrawals, cashing the cheques. Also, you may have to secure the approval of bank manager before you could cash a cheque for a person who is not a regular customer of your bank. Here, the bank manager’s orders or directives will define how much authority you have to do things on your own. Besides, your work may also be supervised by your immediate superior officer. Hence, organizing involves identification of specific jobs, grouping of jobs of similar nature, number of jobs to be included in a specific group and deciding how many people a manager can effectively oversee. An integrated network of people, their jobs and their working relationships ultimately constitutes the structure of the organisation.

Therefore, the organising skills can be broadly spelled out as

  • ability to analyse and describe various organisational jobs;
  • ability to select, train and induct people in jobs;
  • ability to draw working links i.e. define authority and span of control amongst people; and
  • ability to change these working links whenever there are major changes in the environment or technology or strategy of the organisation etc.

Another example may make it clear to you as to how the manager utilises his organising skill when major changes take place in the environment or technology or strategy. Suppose, you happen to be a doctor in a village, where you are in charge of organising a hospital for catering to routine and non-routine or emergency facilities. You know that more facilities are available in city hospitals such as provision of regular ambulance service, wide range of medicines and services of doctors and nurses, etc. At the time of dealing with an emergency case, you should rush to the city hospital. You have to organise yourself and your co-workers to assess how crucial this responsibility becomes when you have limited resources available with you, yet you want to achieve the best you can. 

  1. LEADING SKILLS

Leading people requires that the leader must understand the values, personality, perception and attitudes of these people. As an individual you act differently from another individual because of your values, personality, perception and attitudes. This is a very important factor to be understood in relation to the other person who may be your superior or subordinate. Let us carry out the following activity in order to understand each of these factors. 

Value is a conviction that a person holds about a specific mode of conduct and the importance of that conviction to the person. For example, given below are certain work values. You may like to rank the three important values you would like to pursue at work. The ranking should be done in order of importance you attach to them.

Value at work                           Ranking

Be honest Work hard Be free        ——-

Be productive                                   ——-

Know the right people                    ——-

Live in the right places                   ——-

Be tolerant Save time                     ——-

Find a better way                            ——-

If you compare your three rankings with your superior or subordinate, there are possibilities of differences with him. These differences have to be taken into account when we deal with people and use the values that are most important to them to motivate them to work. 

Personality is a sum total of personal traits or characteristics of an individual. It is also a conglomeration of the forces within the individual. Our personality is determined by our physical constitution, beliefs and values in our culture and the situations which have unique influence on us.

You may like to rate yourself on some of the primary personality traits as given below by Cattell (1973):

personality-ranking

Please tick mark the degree or point on the rating scale that describes you most appropriately from each set.

You will find that all that you have marked for yourself has a basis in your physical constitution, beliefs and values, some significant situations in your life, your family background, age, temperament etc. You and the persons you work with certainly differ in these respects.

Perception is the process by which individuals organise and interpret their impressions of the environment around them. Hearing, seeing or smelling or feeling or tasting a stimulus come before we process and interpret it. In picking up a stimulus, processing and interpreting it, often the reality and perception are distorted.  Individuals always try to minimise the changes in perceiving any thing. Managers and subordinates, for example, distort messages or other’s opinions or behavioural patterns.

You may like to select a stimulus in a particular way. If you happen to be a happy-go- lucky person, you will pick up the humorous part of a movie that you saw and discuss about it. Your prior experiences, your emotional state, your needs, and your expectations decide why you like to emphasise the happy events in a movie rather than the sad ones. You may even emphasise some aspects more and ignore other aspects. Between you and your colleague, or superior, or subordinate, perceptions of the same movie would vary a good deal. 

Attitude is a person’s tendency to feel and behave in a particular manner towards an object or a person such as organisation’s selection programme or a manager’s planning approach or a colleague etc. You cannot directly observe it, but its consequences can be observed. Attitudes are learned. They have three aspects, i.e. cognitive, affective and behavioural, only one of which, behavioural, can be observed. The cognitive aspect of the attitude refers to the beliefs, perceptions and ideas about your attitude towards a person or object or situation. The affective aspect of the attitude refers to the feelings and emotions about your attitude towards a person or object or situation. The behavioural aspects refers to the action aspect of the attitude. The following examples may clarify the three aspects of the attitude of individuals. 

Cognitive aspect: Your attitude towards your subordinate, may be you like to see results of the work done by him or her, while appreciating the work details. Your subordinate may be interested only in results without having any interest in the detailed explanation of the work. Both you and your subordinate show your individual perception, belief and ideas about your respective attitudes towards work.

Affective aspect: You may have strong feelings for getting a promotion, but may not have strong feelings for receiving a meritorious award. Your attitude towards work is influenced by such feelings.

Behavioural aspect: Your subordinate may be a hard working individual. He is interested in achieving results without ever holding any discussion with you. He does the work that leads him to achieve something. You can only observe his behavior towards you. You cannot observe his perceptions, beliefs, ideas, emotions, likes or dislikes directly, except his behaviour or action. From his behaviour, you may like to infer his beliefs or ideas about you and feeling for you.

All of us come and join an organisation much after we have learnt our attitudes. Leading skills require understanding and working with different people. Thus, the management skill of leadership reflects our ability to influence followers by understanding the leader’s own abilities and his impact on others. This skill is based on the interaction between the leader, behaviour and situation in which it is applied.

The leading skills applied to management situations can be understood from Figure I: 

fig-1-leadership 

  1. CONTROLLING SKILLS

The skill of controlling consists of actions and decisions which managers undertake to ensure that the actual results are consistent with desired results. In planning for the organisation the management sets the objectives, which are the desired results for the organisation to attain. Any deviation between the actual and the planned results must be corrected by the management by taking appropriate actions and decisions. In this skill therefore, management has a predetermined standard, the information about the performance of the organisation and a corrective action in case the standard set by the organisation is not fulfilled. You may like to know how the controlling skill is related to the other form of management skills we touched upon earlier. 

fig-2-skill-performance-and-feedback

The manager gets a feedback about the performance of the organisation and accordingly takes decisions. He uses his motivating and leading skills to control and regulate the performance, according to his earlier planning.

For example, you happen to be a manager of a production unit. It is your duty to check whether the targets (desired results) of production of the goods in terms of output, quality, time, cost and profit have been achieved. Whenever you have failed to achieve any one of the above five aspects, you must try to correct the situation by reorganising your planning, organising, leading, controlling and decision-making activities.

  1. DECISION-MAKING SKILLS

Decision-making skills are present in the planning process. They pervade all other areas such as organising, leading and controlling. You will appreciate the simple difference between a manager and a non-manager in so far as managers make all the decisions at all levels in the organisation. Think for yourself at the level you are, and whether you take a good, or a bad decision, it will ultimately influence in a big or a small way your performance. Hence, management skills of decision-making for routine or non-routine problems is a time consuming activity and certainly poses a challenge to the manager for making a number of important decisions, good in quality and satisfactory in producing solutions to a problem. A manager’s effectiveness lies in making good and timely decisions. Again, remember, in the decision-making process, you may like to decide on repetitive or routine problems. Processing admission applications in a college or preparing a patient for an operation in a hospital are examples of routine problems. Such routine problems are different from complex, novel problems. Examples of novel or complex problems are, constructing new classroom facilities in a college or reacting to an epidemic. Don’t you think you need to be more creative in solving these novel and complex problems rather than going by rules, procedures and policies that already exist in your organisation? Whether it is a routine or non-routine decision you have to (1) identify and define the problem (2) develop alternative decision (3) select the decision which will solve the problem and (4) implement that decision.

At the end of the input on the five management skills, you may like to identify the various skills of a branch manager of a bank, who combines job tasks (various jobs of people), technology (the knowhow of work) and resources (financial, material, environmental, etc.) to attain the objective of the bank. You may consider the various aspects of management skills, such as planning, organising, leading, controlling and decision-making.

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