The Importance of Management Skills

Guest Author: Laurie Mullins

The focus on developing management skills is growing in intensity. Renowned business author and IAM member, Laurie Mullins provides comment on why developing social skills is just as important as technical skills for the administrative manager. 

People and organisations need each other and management is an integral part of this interrelationship. Whatever your views on organisation theory, it is difficult to argue against management skills as a cornerstone of business effectiveness. These skills are of particular importance for the administrative manager who provides essential support to organisations in planning, organising, directing and controlling their activities to ensure successful performance.

In recent years increasing attention has been given to the importance of the supply and application of skills attainment. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) is leading major research into skills utilisation and the Treasury commissioned the Leitch Review of Skills to assess the required skills profile for the UK to achieve by 2020. The report recognises the high levels of demand for good management skills, that good management is a prerequisite to improving business performance and acknowledges the growing evidence base demonstrating the strong links between the impact of management skills and increased national competitiveness.

The Prince’s Trust also points out the human cost of skills shortages that could affect levels of productivity and morale amongst existing work forces and the European Commission has drawn attention to ‘the skills imperative’ and points out the importance of a skills policy for raising

productivity. For the first time, skills are part of the portfolio of a European Commissioner.

Developing management skills for the future

A major study (Management Futures) by the Chartered Management Institute investigated how the world of work and management will look in 2018. The Institute foresees the tasks of people within organisations will have a new focus. An increasingly flexible and transient workforce and multicultural and remote team working will require talented and prudent managers who excel in analysis, evaluation and above all good judgement. Among the recommendations to leaders and managers is the need to:

  • Focus on individual employees and their requirements when developing new technologies 
  • Make organisations more human 
  • Motivate people creatively 

Developing management skills for the future

By the nature of their responsibilities, the administrative manager is likely to have a variety of interactions with a range of business associates. It is important to remember that people bring their own perceptions, feelings and attitudes towards the organisation. Unlike technical or practical skills, social skills are more intangible. They are difficult to get a firm hold of, or to define and measure clearly. Social skills are often described as ‘soft skills’ and regarded as a natural part of human behaviour. As a result, a common concern with attention to the skills shortage is lack of focus on people management, social skills and interpersonal behaviour. It shouldn’t be forgotten that an important aspect of working with other people and leadership skills is an awareness and acceptance of individual differences and diversity.

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