A skill is an acquired and learned ability to translate knowledge into performance. It is the competency that allows for performance to be superior in the field in which the worker has the required skill. All managers need to possess technical, interpersonal, conceptual, diagnostic, communicational and political skills. While technical and diagnostic skills refer to the knowledge and ability of understanding the processes involved and scientifically analyzing problems and opportunities, all other skills deal with people in one form or the other. These human skills are the most important assets of any successful manager.
It is the manager’s job to achieve the organizational objectives through the proper utilization of its human and material resources. However, since the material resources of equipment, capital, facilities, information and so on can only be used by humans, the human resources are the most valuable assets of any organization.
Accordingly, a manager must be highly skilled in the art of optimally utilizing the human resources. This art is universal in nature. In every walk of life, human skills are necessary for success. These various managerial skills are briefly explained.
These skills basically involve the use of knowledge, methods and techniques in performing a job effectively. This is a specialized knowledge and expertise which is utilized in dealing with day to-day problems and activities. For example, engineers, accountants, computer programmers and systems analysts, all have technical skills in their areas and these skills are acquired through education and training.
This skill is highly necessary at the lower level of management and as one moves to higher levels of management, the relative importance of technical skills usually diminishes. This is so because unlike first level supervisors, managers at higher levels have less direct contact with technical operating problems and activities.
Human skill is the ability to work with other people in a cooperative manner. It involves understanding, patience, trust and genuine involvement in interpersonal relationships. These are interpersonal skills and are necessary at all levels of management. People with good interactory human skills build trust and cooperation as they motivate and lead and thus become successful managers.
This skill is gaining more importance as the work place is becoming more and more ethnically diversified and the manager has to be aware and become adaptive to cultural differences. Furthermore, since the businesses are more and more becoming multinational and global, managers are required to learn new ways of dealing with people in different countries with different cultures and value systems.
Conceptual skill is the ability to view the organization as a whole and as a total entity as well as a system comprised of various parts and subsystems integrated into a single unit. This skill is specially crucial for top level executives who must keep the whole system under focus. They must understand the complexities of the overall organization, including how each unit of the organization contributes towards the overall success of the entire organization.
This skill generally depends upon an organized thinking process which deals with understanding of various functions of an organization, their interdependence and the relationship of the organization with the outside environment in terms of threats and opportunities.
This skill refers to a manager’s analytical ability where a manager can logically and objectively investigate and analyzes a problem or an opportunity and use scientific approaches to arrive at a feasible and optimal solution. It is important however that a manager gets to the root cause of the problem so that the solution is the real and a permanent one rather than simply a short-term or a cosmetic one. This skill overlaps with other skills because a manager may need to use technical, human, conceptual or political skills to solve the problem that has been diagnosed.
Communicational skills are an important component of interpersonal skills and are basic to all other skills and these are important and necessary at all levels of management. A manager’s best ideas will have little impact if they cannot be communicated effectively. Good communication is the foundation of sound management.
Proper communication eliminates delays, misunderstanding, confusion, distortions and conflicts and improves coordination and control. All the four communicational skills, namely, writing, reading, listening and non-verbal gestures are important ingredients of successful leadership.
Political skill can be described as the ability to get your own way without seeming to be selfish or self-oriented. It is the ability to get your share of power and authority and use it without fear of losing it. It is the most complex of skills in the sense that it is required for establishing the right connections and impressing the right people and then skillfully using these connections to your own advantage. Political skill is most important at the middle management level because middle managers always aspire to reach the top levels of management and right connections help in such aspirations.