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INTRODUCTION The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the three managerial skills, conceptual, technical and human, as proposed

by Katz (1955) using various journal articles to analyse the merits of the three skill sets in relation to successful management. The essay will show that the skills are relevant and highly valuable in today s manager and it will argue that these skill sets carry different importance dependant on the level and career stage of the manager. Additionally, this essay will incorporate the findings from a one on one interview with a current manager with regard to the skills above, as well as in discussing how technology has impacted on the managerial work of today s manager. The subject of the interview is Deon Strydom, a lower level manager, working for a large pharmaceutical company in Melbourne with direct responsibility for achieving sales results and managing eight people. The interview discovered three particular areas where technology has impacted, being client relationship management, staff administration and communication. The essay will discuss the positive impacts of these advancements as well as consider some of the downside also experienced.

KATZ S THREE SKILLS RL Katz (1955) first wrote about the three skill sets that managers must possess in order to be successful. This was possibly the first time that personality, as the key attribute for a successful management, was questioned. The skills Katz speaks of, conceptual, human and technical are interesting in as much as to carry these skills and demonstrate them effectively, a degree of personality needs to be combined for ultimate success as written by Dakin and Hamilton (1985).

CONCEPTUAL SKILL Katz (1955) defines Conceptual skill as involving the ability to see the enterprise as a whole, recognising how the various functions of an organization rely on one another. For example, a change in policy in marketing must have consideration the flow on effect to production, sales and finance. If each involved executive considers these overall relationships and the significance of change, he or she is almost certain to become better at managing it. Conceptual skill may sometimes be referred to as creative ability. Conceptual skills are often called upon in managerial work. Complex issues requiring much thought, utlising tools such as mind mapping and brainstorming are regularly

undertaken according to the interview conducted with the manager (D. Strydom, personal communication, 1 March, 2010). In a survey conducted in New Zealand focused on General Managers and their own judgments on what are the important skills to develop (Dakin and Hamilton, 1985), conceptual skills, as opposed to technical and human were the only skills that showed a response indicating continual development, regardless of age or career status. With competitive advantage being a difficult beast to master, the ability for a manager to conceptualise and potentially impact competitive advantage through the generation of new ideas and complementing every strength in an organisation, this result is perhaps not so surprising.

TECHNICAL SKILL Technical skill is defined as an understanding of, and proficiency in a specific kind of activity, particularly one involving methods, process, procedures or techniques (Katz, 1955, p. 91) . The technical skill involves special knowledge. Technical skills are perhaps the most familiar given it is the most concrete of the three skill sets. Interestingly, a number of different academics suggest technical skill is unnecessary for managerial performance (Beauvaris, 1992; Dunning, 1993). Other models suggest that at best technical skill is on the periphery of management competency (Boyatzis, 1982). Dakin and Hamilton (1985) showed in the results of their survey that the General Manager population ranked technical skill as the lowest of the three competencies required, and according to the population it became less relevant as the career progressed. Hysong (2003) suggests that the need for technical skill is most critical for first tier managers as these skills play a vital role in communicating effectively with subordinates, verifying the soundness of decisions. This view is reflected in the interview conducted with the manager, who was a lower level manager. He reported on a scale ranging from very little to very much that he was utlising technical skills very much (D. Strydom, personal communication, 1 March, 2010). Snyder and Brunning (1985) share a view that supervisors and subordinates who are similar in technical skill identify with each other and therefore communicate better. An example perhaps of this is the high performing sales representative who is moved into management. The immediate promotion is supported by the subordinates as the record of the high achiever is well known. The technical ability in the role is what builds the credibility within the team in these initial stages. As the

career develops, this technical skill will give way to both human skills and conceptual skills and this is where problems can have their genesis.

HUMAN SKILL Human Skills are defined as the ability to work effectively as a group member and to build cooperative effort within the team being led (Katz, 1955). Work by Guglielmino and Carroll (1979) reported on a survey by entry, mid or top level managers ranking the importance of conceptual, technical and human skills in their minds. Human Skills were rated highest by mid level managers, where both entry and top level ranked them second. As well, the survey reported by Dakin and Hamilton bore similar results for the top level managers, With Human Skills becoming less important as the career progressed. Interpersonal skills take a very prominent position in managerial work, particularly managers who are working in teams, as was the experience of the interviewed manager (D. Strydom, personal communication, 1 March, 2010). Considering the managerial role involves the management of people, these results are somewhat surprising. Many managers purport that their results are effectively delivered by others so a real focus on this area of skill would appear relevant. Henry Mintzberg makes the same assertion that other people become the means to get things done, not the manager him or herself (Mintzberg, 1994, p 18) . Guglielmino and Carroll (1979) agree arguing human skills are essential for effective administration at all levels. Considering these views, human skills are fundamentally important at all levels and to neglect the opportunity to improve these skills would be at the managers own peril. The three skill sets are important in today s managers. The important observation is that the level of management and the experience of the manger will dictate which of the skills are the most important for the particular time or event, as it seems that each and every situation may actually call for these skills in different measures. Katz acknowledged himself that whilst he detailed each skill set separately, the skills are obviously linked when applied to managerial problems. He also comments that there is some ideal, but different mix of these skills which is required at each managerial level within an organisation (Katz, 1955).

TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AND IMPACTS Overall, technological change as outlined in the following has been positive for the Manager subject of the interview (D. Strydom, personal communication, 1 March, 2010). He cited efficiency as the

biggest improve and stated that the amount of information available on all aspects of the business assisted in making employees more self managed. A focus of the conversation was around the improvements to customer relationship management through the technological advances. Whereas s in the recent past, the ability to analyse a representatives history with a particular customer was perhaps more subjective, the modern day information available means that these relationships, from a point of contacts, can be analysed within minutes. Email and communication has bore a large amount to the change. The immediacy of the techno logy means that unanswered emails can cause frustration, particularly with the advent of Blackberry s and other immediate mobile communication tools. As well, this written communication lends itself open to misinterpretation as emotion, body language and infliction is not possible in an email. It is this type of problem where a managers workload can be increased, needing to deal with issues of miscommunication that face to face discussion mostly avoid. Finally, staff administration has improved greatly with technology. Areas such as HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems) are now very much streamlined and some functions are managed by employees themselves. Areas such as leave entitlements, Personal details, Pay and Bonus structures and training courses are all managed through a kiosk site that employees can access. This means that the direct manager is spending a minimal amount of time managing these administrative tasks, and has more time available to spend on the human side of management.

CONCLUSION In conclusion, the skill set described by Katz of conceptual, technical and human are all important for new and experienced managers to possess. The skills will vary in their use depending on the level of manager executing the skills and the particular situation or problem being considered. Importantly, managers themselves rate the need for the skills differently to each other depending on their operating level of management. Subordinates rate technical skills as very important for new managers to establish credibility quickly and aid communication especially with like technically skilled subordinates. As managers proceed in their career, conceptual skills emerge as the most important of the skill sets. Technology continues to impact on the manager s role. It appears that most of this technology is positive and the use of it enables greater efficiencies to be realised. Much of the administration side of the manager s role has been advantaged through the use of technology, allowing the manager to focus more on the human side of the role. It does come with downside, and managing such areas as

email communications is one aspect where technology potentially presents the manager with challenges in potential miscommunication. LIST OF REFERENCES

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