The Importance of Interpersonal Role

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The Importance of Interpersonal Skills
Hafizhah Chandra

The Importance of Interpersonal Skills
Hafizhah Chandra

Management
16
Management
16

08
Fall
08
Fall

Early theorists such as Henri Fayol (1841 – 1925) described managerial role as planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling. In the early part of 20th century, his theory did help managers to manage more effectively (Mind Tools Ltd, 1996 – 2013). However, Fayol might have overlooked the external factors that might affect managers. Then, in 1973, Henry Mintzberg published his own theory of management roles. His approach is somewhat different from Fayol’s as he highlights the importance of building interpersonal relationship. This is more relevant to today’s organizational structure as most are operating under ‘open system’, where external factors are open to affect managers (Daft, 2001). Thus, Fayol’s theory is more relevant to be perceived as functions instead of roles in today’s management idea.

The concept of ‘what do managers do’ in today’s environment is already different from the early traditional approach. One major cause for this difference is due to changing industrial landscape. During Fayol’s days, the industry was not as competitive as today. As more and more businesses got involved, the demand for social relationship keeps on getting higher and higher. This impression was admitted in Mintzberg’s studies which he concludes as: manager’s role does not consist only of planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling but also human to human skill, which he interprets as interpersonal role. A car salesman would not be able to maintain his relationship with his customers without implementing social, human-to-human skills. Fayol’s approach is indeed relevant but it is not as comprehensive as Mintzberg’s, because he was unable to analyze manager’s role as a whole given the industrial landscape at that time.

Describing a manager from roles’ perspective does not look at a specific person, but rather the associated expectations and responsibilities with being in that role – a manager’s role (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2012). Henry Mintzberg (1973) classified manager’s roles into three separate categories: interpersonal, informational and decisional. Each roles are then supported by essential competencies (Katz, 1974, as cited in Robbins et al., 2012): human skills (attitude), conceptual (knowledge) and technical (skill) respectively.

Interpersonal role is more related to the manager’s attitude. It consists of figurehead, leader and liaison. Informational role’s concern is related to manager’s behavior towards information. It includes monitor, disseminator and spokesperson. Lastly decisional, which focuses on making decisions, consists of entrepreneur, resource allocator and negotiator (Robbins et al., 2012, pp 12-14).

Jim Clemmer, a leadership/culture development speaker, concluded from Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence book (Goleman, 2006) that our attitude, more than our aptitude, determines our altitude. Roughly 80% of our success is determined from our attitude (The Clemmer Group, 2013). This means more than informational and technical, which are supported by conceptual and technical skills respectively, interpersonal role, which requires human skills (attitude), is more important. This idea is further strengthen by Robert Half’s segregation (2007, as cited in Goyal, 2013) of the most important soft skills. The overall interpersonal role’s performance, which consists of interpersonal skills (37%), written or verbal communication (20%), and ability to work under pressure (17%), came to be 74%, more or less similar to Clemmer’s (2013) conclusions. Cooper and Sawaf (1997) also suggested that emotional intelligence, which is our attitude, holds the power to actually make proper decisions, creates profitable organization and the most successful lives (Cooper & Sawaf,...
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