What Do Managers Do? Critically Discuss the Following Statement: “the Work and Skills of Managers Are the Same Irrespective of Their Position Within the Organisation.”

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The study of management has explored fields far beyond the conceivable realms; however one facet of management has been forever present in the minds of academics and industry workers. The ever examined topic of skills and work among managers in all levels of an organisation has been discussed and researched for decades. Various schools of thought exist within this topic and this paper will look to explore in detail the breadth of such thoughts. Ultimately, managers must posses a range of skills and perform a wide variety of tasks to achieve organisational goals. Academics such as Katz [1], Mintzberg [4,11], Fayol [10] and Paolio [5] have all explored this field and their findings will be discussed in detail throughout the essay. Although evidence exists to support the hypothesis that managers must posses both a range of diverse skills and work related activities that are determined by their level within the organisation; there is also contrasting research that concludes that some of the skills and activities performed by managers will be similar irrespective of their position within the organisation.

The skills of managers have long been examined and over time numerous academics have proposed that different skills sets will aid in the achievement of organisational objectives [1,2,3]. There is no doubt that skills are fundamental in the effort to obtain organisational goals but the question remains, how do skills relate to managers in different levels of the organisation? Robert L. Katz, a management expert in the mid 1950’s proposed a theory based upon a set of three skill classes which were deemed vital to managers across the traditional three tier hierarchy of management [1]. Katz developed the theory of technical skills, interpersonal/human skills and conceptual skills. Technical skill “involves specialised knowledge, analytical ability within that speciality and facility in the use of the tools and techniques of the specific discipline” (Katz, 1955). Human or interpersonal skills are described as “the executive’s ability to work effectively as a group member and to build cooperative effort within the team he leads” (Katz, 1955). Finally, conceptual skills are identifying “how the various functions of the organisation depend on one and other, and how changes in any one part affect all the others” (Katz, 1955). Katz also identified that the skill groups differ in their level of significance depending upon the manager’s position within the organisation. Katz believed that lower level managers should posses all three skills with an emphasis on technical skills with less focus upon human and conceptual skills. Similarly, Katz believed that middle level managers should posses an equal amount of all three skill groups, with senior level managers having to posses significant levels of conceptual skills as their roles require them to view the organisation as a whole with less focus on technical skills [1]. In late 1974, Katz published a retrospective commentary in which he stated that his initial report, which placed a clear line between the levels of management and their respective skills were somewhat “simplistic and naïve” (Katz, 1974). Katz’s retrospective commentary supports the hypothesis that although skills may vary, all levels of management must have technical, human and conceptual skills if they are to be successful [1]. Following Katz’s report, Dr. Farhad Analoui produced an experiment into managerial skills focusing upon the conceptual skills from Katz’s initial report which included looking into the importance of self-management and the subsequent skills which stemmed from the “development of one’s own ability as well as the ability to make decisions and solve problems creatively” (Labbaf, Analoui and Cusworth, 1996). Analoui, by further developing his theory of conceptual skills and the importance of self-management and self-development [6], introduced a school of thought which since has become very popular and...
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