Development of Management Skills


Development of Management Skills

 Managers besides managing the work in the organization also manage the employees doing the work. Managers in the workplace, in fact, are the single most important factor in employee engagement, employee motivation, and building a productive workplace. Managers also manage self and personal skills, provide direction, facilitate change, work with people, use resources, and achieve results. (Fig 1) They are keys to the employee’s retention. Development of the management skills is significant for an organization since it builds the skills of the employees so that they can become effective managers and can provide a significant payback.

Management skills

 Fig 1 Functions of a manager

 The option of the management development is critical to the effective functioning of the organization. This is because of the power of a manager to impact the organization through his oversight of the work of other employees.

Different skills needed from a manager are as follows.

  • Active listening – It means giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical thinking – Under this skill a manager uses logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Time management – With time management a manager manages his time and the time of the other employees.
  • Management of personnel resources – It consists of motivating, developing, and directing employees as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Reading comprehension – It means understanding of written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Social perceptiveness – Under this skill a manager is aware of the reactions of the other employees and also understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking – It means talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing – It is the effective communication in writing as appropriate for the needs of the employees and the organization.
  • Management of financial resources – It consists of determination of how money is to be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
  • Monitoring– Monitoring is the assessment of the performance of self, other employees, or organizational work to make improvements or to take corrective actions.

 Development of management skills enables managers to accomplish their job as managers more effectively. Management development helps the organization to develop the personal and organizational skills of the employees so as to be effective as managers either in a management job or with an eventual management job in mind. The purpose of training in the management development skills is to improve the employees’ capabilities and also the organizational capabilities.

Investments in the development of managerial skills of employees can make the employees more productive and more effective in their jobs. When the organization invests in improving the knowledge and skills of its employees, the investment is returned in the form of improvement in bottom lines through more productive and effective employees.

A technical person is known for his technical skills but as manager if he has to succeed then he has to develop management skills. Management skills are rather more important than technical skills for a manager. His success as a manager is measured not only by his own output but also by the output and productivity of the employees he supervises. Working with others and getting them to give their best can be just as rewarding as the technical accomplishments.

The management and leadership development process is flexible and continuous, linking an employee’s development to the goals of the department and the organization. Management development programs provide the opportunity to develop a broad base of management skills and knowledge that can be applied to many situations in day to day work. The goal of a management development programme for employees is to develop the necessary core competencies in them so that they become excellent managers. It provides performance management tools for expanding management core competencies to keep pace with the demands of a changing environment under which the organization operates.

The guiding principles for management development activities are as follows.

  • Encourage growth and career development of employees
  • Improve managerial skills and knowledge necessary to become effective managers
  • Increase motivation and job satisfaction
  • Create a network of colleagues for problem solving and support and promote the team
  • Promote communication and planning throughout the organization and department networks

 The most common management tasks involve managing individual performance, instructing subordinates, planning and allocating resources, coordinating interdependent groups, managing group performance, monitoring the business environment, and representing subordinate employees.

At different stages of their careers, employees need different kinds of training and different kinds of development experiences. Although a degree might help persons in their first job, they need to gain management skills through training and experience as they progress through their career. There are the following four stages of management development with different skill enhancement outcomes.

  • Functional competence, an understanding of finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, information technology, economics, operations, and human resources management
  • Understanding context and strategy and how organizational processes interrelate, to make sense of societal changes, politics, social values, global issues, and technological change
  • Ability to influence people, based on a broad understanding of people and motivations
  • Reflective skills, to set priorities for work efforts and organizational goals.

Therefore, to maximize the effectiveness of management development, organizations must constantly assess the current managerial capabilities of their employees and identify managerial development needs to prepare employees for their next position. This requires that organizations recognize that different employees have different needs and that these needs also change over time as the employees continue in their careers.

Developing management skillsis required to help an employee to actually improve his personal management competencies i.e. to change his behaviour. It helps the employee to think and to behave more competently at his work place. Primary goal and relevance of developing management skills is to help the employee to prepare for and improve his own competency in a managerial role. These skills  only help in improving the work place performance and in turn organizational performance.

Management skills differentiate effective managers from less effective managers. Developing management skills is so crucial for organizational success that they need the focus of attention.

The management literature is filled with lists of attributes, behaviours, orientations, and strategies for enhancing successful performance. For example, Pfeffer had identified seven key practices associated with managerial and organizational effectiveness. They are ensuring employment security, selectively hiring people, fostering decentralization and self managing teams, implementing high levels of pay based on performance, training extensively, reducing status differences and sharing information. Quinn had identified eight seeds of effective management and leadership. These are envision the productive community, first look within, embrace the hypocritical self, transcend fear, embody a vision of the common good,  disturb the system, surrender to the emergent process, and entice through moral power. An international study focused on differences in managerial attributes and identified attributes such as inspirational, self-sacrificial, integrity, diplomatic, malevolent, visionary, administrative, self-centered, status conscious, autocratic, modest, and autonomous attributes. Most popular management tools and techniques associated with organization success as indicated by an investigation are strategic planning, pay for performance, strategic alliances, customer satisfaction measurement, shareholder value analysis, mission and vision statements, benchmarking, cycle time reduction, agile strategies, self-directed teams, and groupware.

These kinds of lists are useful, but they do not identify management skills per se. Instead they enumerate organizational strategies, personality orientations, or philosophical approaches to management, and their implementation is usually outside the explicit control of the individual manager. Either they are complex sets of activities in which many employees must be involved or they are cognitive activities that are not behavioural in character. Some of the lists enumerate personality characteristics or styles or they enumerate organizational practices. The effectiveness of the attributes on these kinds of lists depends on the manager’s skill in implementing them, and that means employees are to be competent in fundamental management skills. Management skills form the vehicle by which management strategy, management practice, tools and techniques, personality attributes, and style work to produce effective outcomes in organizations. Management skills, in other words, are the building blocks upon which effective management rests. That is why the focus must be on developing management skills rather than on strategy, tools and techniques, or styles. Management skills are the means by which managers translate their own style, strategy, and favorite tools or techniques into practice.

Several defining characteristics demarcate management skills and differentiate them from other kinds of managerial characteristics and practices.

  • First, management skills are behavioural. They are not personality attributes or stylistic tendencies. Management skills consist of identifiable sets of actions that managers perform and that lead to certain outcomes. Skills can be observed by others, unlike attributes that are purely mental or are embedded in personality. Whereas people with different styles and personalities may apply the skills differently, there are, nevertheless, a core set of observable attributes in effective skill performance that are common across a range of individual differences.
  • Second, management skills are controllable. The performance of these behaviours is under the control of the manager. Management skills can be consciously demonstrated, practiced, improved, or restrained by managers themselves. Skills may certainly engage other employees and require cognitive work, but they are behaviours that people can control themselves.
  • Third, management skills are developable. Performance can improve. Unlike certain personality or temperament attributes that remain relatively constant throughout life, employees can improvement their competency in skill performance through practice and feedback. Individuals can progress from less competence to more competence in management skills.
  • Fourth, management skills are interrelated and overlapping. It is difficult to demonstrate just one skill in isolation from others. Skills are not simplistic, repetitive behaviours, but they are integrated sets of complex responses. Effective managers, in particular, must rely on combinations of skills to achieve desired results. For example, in order to effectively motivate others, skills such as supportive communication, influence, empowerment, and self-awareness may be required. Effective managers, in other words, develop a constellation of skills that overlap and support one another and that allow flexibility in managing diverse situations.
  • Fifth, management skills are sometimes contradictory or paradoxical. For example, the core management skills are neither all soft and humanistic in orientation nor all hard-driving and directive. They are oriented neither toward teamwork and interpersonal relations exclusively nor toward individualism and technical entrepreneurship exclusively. A variety of skills are typical of the most effective managers, and some of them appear incompatible.