skills of an effective administrator

The administrator needs: (a) sufficient technical skill to accomplish the mechanics of the particular job for which he is responsible; (b) sufficient human skill in working with others to be an effective group member and to be able to build cooperative effort within the team he leads; (c) sufficient conceptual skill to recognize the interrelationships of the various factors involved in his situation, which will lead him to take that action which is likely to achieve the maximum good for the total organization. But one has only to look at the successful managers in any company to see how enormously their particular qualities vary from any ideal list of executive virtues.”1. As such, employees in this role need strong organizational skillsto succeed. 1. As used here, technical skill implies an understanding of, and proficiency in, a specific kind of activity, particularly one involving methods, processes, procedures, or techniques. Besides learning, a system administrator should also be able to write well and should be good at IT documentation. Executives are being tested for everything from “decisiveness” to “conformity.” These tests, as a recent article in Fortune points out, have achieved some highly questionable results when applied to performance on the job.10 Would it not be much more productive to be concerned with skills of doing rather than with a number of traits which do not guarantee performance ? Skills of an Effective Administrator book. Harriet O. Ronken and Paul R. Lawrence, Administering Changes (Boston, Division of Research, Harvard Business School, 1952). At the […]. He must define performance criteria and determine what special competences the company will emphasize. Maintaining your calendar, planning time to complete tasks and setting proper timeline expectations are all parts of being a strong administrator. Job rotation, special interdepartmental assignments, and working with case problems certainly provide opportunities for a person to enhance previously developed conceptual abilities. If you have a colleague or manager that has strong administrative skills that you find effective, try adopting their practices in your own work. I want you to make that base rate of 250 dozen pair a week work!” [Base rate was established at slightly under 75% of the maximum capacity. Sound grounding in the principles, structures, and processes of the individual specialty, coupled with actual practice and experience during which the individual is watched and helped by a superior, appear to be most effective. These men shift with great ease, and with no apparent loss in effectiveness, from one industry to another. A heavy influx of orders following World War II tripled the normal production requirements and severely taxed the whole manufacturing organization. We are all familiar with those “professional managers” who are becoming the prototypes of our modern executive world. He needs to be able to both communicate well, which will make his directives clear and also keep morale high, and be organized so that he can coordinate efforts smoothly. This three-skill approach emphasizes that good administrators are not necessarily born; they may be developed. He would then resist any external pressures that place a higher priority on criteria other than delivering the required output on time. It takes unique administrative skills and tremendous adaptability to succeed as an administrative professional. Dealing with the external demands on a manager’s unit requires conceptual skill; the limited physical and financial resources available to him tax his technical skill; and the capabilities and demands of the persons with whom he deals make it essential that he possess human skill. By ignoring all these human factors, the production manager not only placed the engineer in an extremely difficult operating situation but also, by refusing to allow the engineer to “run his own show,” discouraged the very assumption of responsibility he had hoped for in making the appointment. Prioritization. Technical skill is responsible for many of the great advances of modern industry. Consequently, I would revise my original evaluation of human skill to say now that internal intragroup skills are essential in lower and middle management roles and that intergroup skills become increasingly important in successively higher levels of management. It would appear important, then, that the training of a candidate for an administrative position be directed at the development of those skills which are most needed at the level of responsibility for which he is being considered. For example: In one large capital-goods producing company, the controller was called on to replace the manufacturing vice president, who had been stricken suddenly with a severe illness. These useful active listening examples will help address these questions and more. Yet the concept of skill, as an ability to translate knowledge into action, should enable one to distinguish between the three skills of performing the technical activities (technical skill), understanding and motivating individuals and groups (human skill), and coordinating and integrating all the activities and interests of the organization toward a common objective (conceptual skill). A security administrator needs to have experience working with the physical security layer, as well as understand how to develop a security plan, coordinate with appropriate personnel, implement security measures, and monitor the IT environment for potential threats. Perrin Stryker, “The Growing Pains of Executive Development,” Advanced Management, August 1954, p. 15. “I think we should discuss setting the base rate [production quota before incentive bonus] on a daily basis instead of a weekly basis. I now realize more fully that managers at all levels require some competence in each of the three skills. In my view, it is impossible for anyone to perform well in these continually changing roles without help. Administrative skills are qualities that help you complete tasks related to managing a business. Management sought to reinstate its old procedures; it fired the production manager and attempted to give greater authority to the foremen once again. Administrative assistants’ communication skills are key — helping them convey information inside and outside the company, and keeping business running well. This approach suggests that effective administration rests on three basic developable skills which obviate the need for identifying specific traits and which may provide a useful way of looking at and understanding the administrative process. Which, then, can we identify as a desirable characteristic? Of the three skills described in this article, technical skill is perhaps the most familiar because it is the most concrete, and because, in our age of specialization, it is the skill required of the greatest number of people. A chief executive may lack technical or human skills and still be effective if he has subordinates who have strong abilities in these directions. Conceptual skill, as defined above, is what Chester I. Barnard, former president of the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, is implying when he says: “…the essential aspect of the [executive] process is the sensing of the organization as a whole and of the total situation relevant to it.”3 Examples of inadequate conceptual skill are all around us. This separation of effective administration into three basic skills is useful primarily for purposes of analysis. UNDERSTANDING . In trying to predetermine a prospective candidate’s abilities on a job, much use is being made these days of various kinds of testing devices. Perhaps consideration of an actual situation would serve to clarify what is involved: When a new conveyor unit was installed in a shoe factory where workers had previously been free to determine their own work rate, the production manager asked the industrial engineer who had designed the conveyor to serve as foreman, even though a qualified foreman was available. Even managers at the lowest levels must continually use all of them. Skills are developed abilities manifested by effective performance in a specific area despite varying conditions. 4. Get these people thinking in terms of 2 pairs of shoes a minute, 70 dozen pairs a day, 350 dozen pairs a week. If well done, training in these basic administrative skills should develop executive abilities more surely and more rapidly than through unorganized experience. The human skill of dealing with individuals then becomes subordinate to the conceptual skill of integrating group interests and activities into a whole. But such a confidant requires just as high a degree of conceptual and human skills as the chief executive himself; and to be truly helpful, he must know all about the company’s operations, key personnel, and industry. The maintaining role (sustaining the organization in its present posture) emphasizes human skills and requires only modest technical or strategic changes. Yet when he was required to name an assistant to understudy his job from among several well-qualified subordinates, he deliberately avoided making a decision. Human skill cannot be a “sometime thing.” Techniques cannot be randomly applied, nor can personality traits be put on or removed like an overcoat. This gives the man the chance literally to “be in the other fellow’s shoes.”. At the root of this difference is industry’s search for the traits or attributes which will objectively identify the “ideal executive” who is equipped to cope effectively with any problem in any organization. When this article was first published nearly 20 years ago, there was a great deal of interest in trying to identify a set of ideal personality traits that would readily distinguish potential executive talent. It is the purpose of this article to suggest what may be a more useful approach to the selection and development of administrators. Basic skills - the ones that most employees can learn - are often more important than personality traits.InSkills of an Effective Administrator, Robert L. Katz identifies the three fundamental abilities companies should seek to develop in their managers. A number of methods have been tried to aid in developing this ability, with varying success. For a more comlete development of the concept of “coaching,” see Myles L. Mace, The Growth and Development of Executives (Boston, Division of Research, Harvard Business School, 1950). The purpose of this article has been to show that effective administration depends on three basic personal skills, which have been called technical, human, and conceptual. 13. For larger groups, the use of case problems coupled with impromptu role playing can be very effective. As used here, conceptual skill involves 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 the others; and it extends to visualizing the relationship of the individual business to the industry, the community, and the political, social, and economic forces of the nation as a whole. As used here, human skill is the executive’s ability to work effectively as a group member and to build cooperative effort within the team he leads. Effective leaders have Skills which are naturally developed and unconsciously with consistently which demonstrated in the every action. At higher levels, the administrator’s effectiveness depends largely on human and conceptual skills. It is indispensable to efficient operation. For example, a production manager may be most efficient if he puts all his emphasis on obtaining a high degree of reliability in his production schedule. For example, if you find that their style of note-taking is especially helpful, you might also practice taking notes in this way. You must also be able to use various types of communication including verbal, nonverbal, written and visual communication. An old, established, large company has great operational momentum that enables the new chief executive to concentrate on strategic issues. The controller had no previous production experience, but he had been with the company for more than 20 years and knew many of the key production personnel intimately. Yet, by the evaluation of his superiors and by his results in increasing efficiency and raising profits and morale, this manager was exceedingly effective. Post a Job on Indeed.com. But after several months had passed, it became clear that the sales manager had very unobtrusively been giving the various salesmen opportunities to demonstrate their attitudes and feelings. But does not every promotion, in the last analysis, depend on someone’s subjective judgment? When, for example, an important change in marketing policy is made, it is critical that the effects on production, control, finance, research, and the people involved be considered. The attitudes of a top executive color the whole character of the organization’s response and determine the “corporate personality” which distinguishes one company’s ways of doing business from another’s. Moreover, although this was a radically new situation for the operators, the production manager expected them to produce immediately at well above their previous output—even though the operators had an unfamiliar production system to cope with, the operators had never worked together as a team before, the operators and their new foreman had never worked together before, and the foreman was not in agreement with the production goals or standards. Others can be individually aided by their immediate superiors as an integral part of the “coaching” process to be described later. This aid depends for effectiveness, obviously, on the extent to which the superior possesses the human skill. 9. Administrative employees often have to interact with employers, staff, and clients, either in person or on the phone. Good communication skills are critical to anyone's success in business and possibly even more so in the case of an administrative assistant. An ability to differentiate between “mission-critical tasks” and “tasks that can wait” showcases impeccable judgement, leadership skills, and an alignment with company values. The search for these traits was vigorously pursued in the hope that the selection and training of managers could be conducted with greater reliability. An administrative role falls under the management umbrella, much like every other role, but the difference between a manager and an administrative officer is that the administrative officer focuses primarily on other resources and less on human resources. I now believe this mobility is possible only in very large companies, where the chief executive has extensive staff assistance and highly competent, experienced technical operators throughout the organization. Edmund P. Learned, David H. Ulrich, and Donald R. Booz, Executive Action (Boston, Division of Research, Harvard Business School, 1950). As the administrator moves further and further from the actual physical operation, this need for technical skill becomes less important, provided he has skilled subordinates and can help them solve their own problems. It is important that they speak clearly and loudly, maintaining a positive tone. As a result, he was able to identify strong sentiments for one man whose subsequent promotion was enthusiastically accepted by the entire group. Once you’ve nailed these traits, there’s no … When Benjamin F. Fairless, now chairman of the board of the United States Steel Corporation, was president of the corporation, he described his coaching activities: “When one of my vice presidents or the head of one of our operating companies comes to me for instructions, I generally counter by asking him questions. The company needs to know they can trust you to be the face and voice of other employees and even the company. I cited as evidence the many professional managers who move easily from one industry to another without apparent loss of effectiveness. Organization skills are those related to creating structure and order, boosting productivity, and prioritizing tasks that must be completed immediately, versus those that can be postponed, delegated to another person, or eliminated altogether. Real skill in working with others must become a natural, continuous activity, since it involves sensitivity not only at times of decision making but also in the day-by-day behavior of the individual. One recent research study has shown that human skill is of paramount importance at the foreman level, pointing out that the chief function of the foreman as an administrator is to attain collaboration of people in the work group.4 Another study reinforces this finding and extends it to the middle-management group, adding that the administrator should be primarily concerned with facilitating communication in the organization.5 And still another study, concerned primarily with top management, underscores the need for self-awareness and sensitivity to human relationships by executives at that level.6 These findings would tend to indicate that human skill is of great importance at every level, but notice the difference in emphasis. These people have never seen a conveyor. [Workers had previously been paid on a daily straight piecework basis. Administrative skills can help you to be well organized, a strong communicator and enhance your customer service skills. In the original article, I suggested that specific technical skills are unimportant at top management levels. He not only needs to know the right questions to ask his subordinates; he also needs enough industry background to know how to evaluate the answers. Tasks related to administration are often important to keeping a business running efficiently. The ability to communicate effectively is critical to the job of administrative assistant. Development of technical skill has received great attention for many years by industry and educational institutions alike, and much progress has been made. As an administrator has to deal with new issues, he should be able to get a grasp of all the modern concepts and provide solutions to problems. 2. In my experience, outstanding capability in one of these roles is frequently accompanied by mediocre performance in the other. The futility of pursuing specific traits becomes apparent when we consider the responses of an administrator in a number of different situations. But the innovative role (developing and expanding the organization) demands high competence in both conceptual and intergroup skills, with the technical contribution provided primarily by subordinates. Unless a person has learned to think this way early in life, it is unrealistic to expect a major change on reaching executive status. “In Conference,” HBR March–April 1954, p. 44. Management had gambled that this man’s ability to work with people was more important than his lack of a technical production background, and the gamble paid off. By so doing, he produced a highly efficient team. So the principal criterion of skillfulness must be effective action under varying conditions. 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