Katz Theory of Management

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Critically evaluate the relevance of the three skills identified by Katz to the work of first-line managers.

Provide evidence, theoretical analysis and refer to academic journals to support your essay discussion.

In a constantly evolving business environment, it’s no surprise that the job of a first line manager has changed. As such this essay will be covering 3 main aspects. Firstly, it will identify the work of the first line manager followed by Katz’s 3 skills and their relevance and lastly, whether other skills are applicable to the work of the first line managers.

Managers are defined as people who coordinate and oversee the work of other people so that organisational goals can be accomplished (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg and Coulter, 2008, p.8). There are three main levels of managers. Firstly, there are the top managers who “create organisational goals, strategies and operating policies”(Griffin,2000, p.4). For example, the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, would have set aims for the organisation to achieve a certain amount of profit per year and have set rules and regulations that should be abided by in order to achieve its goals via efficient and effective methods. Secondly, there are the middle line managers who are primarily responsible for implementing the policies and plans created by top managers and for overseeing and managing the activities of lower-level managers. For example, they would monitor quality control, equipment failures, and coordinate the work of supervisors ensuring the organisation runs smoothly.

First line managers and Conceptual Skills
Thirdly, there are the first line managers who “supervise and coordinate the activities of operating employees” (Griffin, 2000, p.5) The first line manager’s job involves overseeing day to day operations, ensuring that production goals are carried out efficiently and effectively as they directly affect the company’s profits. Drucker (1955) states that managers must organize the employees and classify the work. They must be able to divide the work in to manageable tasks and then allocate these tasks to the employees via organizing them in the most efficient manner possible to attain their production goals. As such, these skills are in line with Katz stand on how conceptual skills are one of the basic skills needed by managers. (Katz, 1974, p.93) defines conceptual skills as “the ability to see the enterprise as a whole; it includes recognizing how the various functions of the organization depend on one another and, how changes in any one part affect all others” Although not much of conceptual skills are needed by first line managers in their daily work, as the top management sets the organizational goals and focuses on deriving at strategies to achieve them, a certain level is still needed. For example, the supervisor of a shoe producing company would apply conceptual skills by organizing the workers available per day to achieve the production goals set for that day. He needs to use critical thinking to come up with on the spot solutions for problems such as ad-hoc absenteeism via organising and delegating the jobs to the employees to ensure that the production goals set for that day can still be achieved. In case of any unexpected crisis, for example flash floods, first line managers have to think on their feet and execute emergency plans to ensure that everyone is evacuated safely and the equipments are safe too. This is in line with Mintzberg’s decision making roles, specifically that of a disturbance handler and resource allocator.

First line managers and Human Skills
Human skills represent the ability to work well with and understand others, to build cooperative effort within a team, to motivate and to manage conflict.” (Robbins, et al., p.16) As such, Katz (1974) states that human skills play a more essential role at lower levels as the contact between the managers and the employees is the greatest here. First line manager’s...
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