Much like a professional basketball player needs to know how to dribble and shoot a basketball, or how a home builder understands the process of framing a house, managers also need to have a specific set of skills in order to effectively perform their jobs. Managerial skills are what the manager uses to assist the organization in accomplishing its goals. Specifically, a manager will make use of his or her own abilities, knowledge base, experiences, and perspectives to increase the productivity of those with whom they manage.
The toolbox for what a manager needs in order to perform their job effectively, typically, fall into one of three categories: technical skills, human skills, and conceptual skills. To give you a better understanding of these skills, let’s take a look at how each of these skills are applied by Manny the Manager and his employee Kelly the Financial Analyst.
Technical skills are those skills needed to accomplish a specific task. It is the ‘how to’ skill set that allows a manager to complete his or her job. These skills are the combination of formal education, training, and on-the-job experience. Most employees expect their managers to have a technical skill set above their own so that, when needed, an employee can come to their manager to find out how to do something specific to their individual job.
For example, let’s say that part of Kelly the Financial Analyst’s job is to update a balance sheet each week. Kelly is a novice financial analyst and is new to the company, so she’s expecting her manager, Manny, to show her how to perform this task initially, so that she can, eventually, do it on her own. Therefore, it is essential for Manny to have the technical skills of how to update a balance sheet so that he may, in turn, share that skill with Kelly. As a low-level manager, technical skills are most important for Manny due to how close his role is to the general workforce – in this case, Kelly.
The next type of skills a manager must have are human skills. These interpersonal skills are what a manager will use to work with his or her employees. Some people are born with good human skills; others must work much harder at it. Human skills are critical for all managers because they work with people. Managers with good human skills understand their role inside the manager/employee relationship and how important things, like trust, cohesion, fairness, empathy, and good will, are to the overall success of the organization. Human skills help the manager to communicate, lead, and motivate an employee to work towards a higher level of productivity.
For example, let’s go back to Kelly and Manny. Imagine Kelly’s job description was changing to include a greater deal of responsibility but for the same pay. Kelly is upset, and feels overwhelmed by this change. Manny is a manager with good human skills, so he is able to empathize and communicate his understanding of Kelly’s frustration with the change to her. Manny quickly works to find ways to motivate Kelly to continue to work at a higher level, despite the additional workload being placed on her.