Roles and skills of management

There is an assortment of definitions as to the term ‘management’ and ‘managers’. Management is divided into different divisions, which include human resource, operations, marketing, information, administration and many other areas (Davidson 2009, p.16). Each division requires a certain degree of planning, organising, leading and controlling. In 1916, ever since the French industrialist, Henri Fayol first introduced planning, organising, coordinating and controlling, these four words have then dominated the management vocabulary. However, it is difficult to relate these four words to the detailed basis of a manager’s work. The more useful, description managerial work is by describing in terms of various roles (Mintzberg 1989, p.9). On the other hand, research by Robert L. Katz identified that an effective manager exhibits technical skills, interpersonal skills and conceptual skills (Robbins et al 2009, p.15). Hence, the work of managers is described by looking at the functions, roles and skills of management. This assignment explores the various definition of management and investigates the roles of a manager, as well as how the role evolves together with time.

Management is known as “the cornerstone of organisational effectiveness and is concerned with arrangements for the carrying out of organisational processes and the execution of work. There are many aspects to management in work organisations, but the one essential ingredient of any successful manager is the ability to handle people effectively” (Mullins 2006, p.11). This definition emphasises on the effectiveness of carrying out organisational processes and work activities. It further stresses on the importance of interpersonal skills in managing human resources. Robbins et al (2009, p.10) focuses management as the coordination of work activities of others and monitoring their progress, while Kinicki and Kreitner (2009, p.5) defined management as the process of working ethically with and through others to achieve organisational objectives in an efficient manner. These definitions focus on the accomplishment of work through the efforts of others.

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Nevertheless, human resource is not the sole concern of management. Management is “the process of assembling and using sets of resources in a goal-directed manner to accomplish tasks in an organisational setting” (Hitt, Black & Porter 2009, p.5). Davidson et al (2009, p.9) defined management in a more detailed manner, stating that management is a set of activities, which include planning and decision-making, organising, leading and controlling, directed at an organisation’s human, financial, physical and information resources, to achieve organisation’s goals in an efficient and effective manner. These two definitions defined management as the process of utilising an entire range of resources for the accomplishment of organisational goals.

Managers are constantly overloaded with responsibilities. One of the most fundamental roles of a manager is to determine the goals of the organisation and the most effective way of achieving it (George & Jones 2006, p.8). To illustrate, Proton’s vision is to be the leading, diversified and most innovative car distributor. In order to achieve this goal, Proton invests in research and development and extensive market surveys to ensure that their products are able to accommodate to advanced technology improvement (Proton Annual Report 2009). Furthermore, operating in a dynamic environment, managers have to depend on conceptual skills to always anticipate and implement swift solutions in response to any unexpected situations (Robbins et al 2009, p.17). In January 2009, in anticipation of continued deterioration in the global economic environment, Lenovo announced a global resource restructuring plan to reduce costs and enhance operational efficiency (Interim Annual Report 2009).

Managerial work also involves in allocating resources efficiently (Ebert & Griffin 2007, p.145), thus firms should be structured effectively in order to manage the firm’s operations and diverse staff members. Specialised skills workers are differentiated into different functional areas (Hitt, Black & Porter 2009, p.170) to ensure that the members of each division would be able to carry out their responsibility effectively based on their technical skills (Robbins et al 2009, p.15). For example, Proton divided its business structure into several divisions, such as Export Markets Division to deal with issues related to export, Group Legal Division deals with legal issues, while Engineering Division deals with technical issues (Proton Annual Report 2009).

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As a leader, a manager should guide, motivate and train its employees to meet the firm’s objectives (Mintzberg 1989, p.16). This shows the importance of human resource management. Hence, interpersonal and communication skills are essential for a manager in order to communicate, understand and motivate its workers. Therefore, the key to effective human resource management is communication (Davidson et al 2009, p.20). Communication consist of exchanging routine information, processing paperwork, receiving and disseminating requested information, answering procedural questions and conveying the results of meetings (Luthans 1988). Based on this concept, it is evident that managers perform informational roles as identified by Mintzberg (Robbins et al 2009, p.13). Owing to technology advancement, communication role is much easier as managers are able to effectively transmit information to employees (George & Jones 2006, p.20). In recognition of the importance of communication between the company and employees, headquarters of Acer organised Gardener’s Meeting to offer employees to participate in the company’s policy making operations to increase employee interactions with upper level management, thus increasing the company’s operational efficiency (Employee Communication 2009).

In order to successfully achieve organisational goals, managers have to constantly monitor the progress of their staffs in getting work done. Controlling is an important management function that “involves monitoring the company’s performance, comparing actual to standards, and taking action if necessary” (Robbins et al 2009, p.12). This is essential for a manager to maintain the quality of its company’s product or services in order to gain competitive advantage in the market (Hitt, Black & Porter 2009, p.372). To illustrate, Proton has carried out various quality improvement activities throughout the organisation by reintroducing Group-wide Quality Campaign. This is to instil the importance of quality in the hearts and minds of PROTON’s management, employees and business partners (Proton Annual Report 2009).

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Effective General Managers rely on flexible agenda setting and network building to achieve their goals (Kotter 1999, p.2). According to Mintzberg (1989, p.15), a manager plays the role of a figurehead and liaison which sometimes involves serving as an official representative of the company at gatherings outside the organisation. Managers use political skill to acquire the power necessary to achieve objectives, which include establishing the right connections and impressing the right people (DuBrin 2006, p.17). By doing so, it is easier for a manager to negotiate terms and reaching an agreement with a key supplier or trade union. In order to develop a good cooperative relationship, their discussion usually contains a fair amount of jokes and topics that are unrelated to work, such as hobbies (Kotter 1999, p.6-8).

In conclusion, management is not solely about managing human resources, but other resources as well. To date, in addition to Fayol’s traditional management, a manager’s work includes the managerial roles of Mintzberg, managerial skills of Katz, Kotter’s networking activities, political skills as incorporated by DuBrin and Luthans’s modern view of managerial work. Nevertheless, in order to operate a firm in such a dynamic environment, a manager must have the ability to adapt and anticipate the changing demands of the environment (Robbins et al 2009, p.17). Thus, it is evident that a work of a manager is unquestionably challenging with ever-increasing responsibility.

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