Activities that managers perform in markets

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Managers perform certain activities as they efficiently and effectively coordinate the work of others using different approach and skills. This report was prepared to identify and discuss the relevant Katz's skills which are or not reflected in the work of Mr. Gan, Director of GPA Holdings Berhad. Mr Gan is an executive Director of GPA holdings Berhad. Being an executive Director, he is mainly responsible for the formulation of the company policies, the strategies, the planning, the direction and the development of his organization. He is a member of the board of directors and he reports directly to the chairman.GPA Holdings Berhad is an investment holdings company and is listed in the main market of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad.. The core business and operations of the groups are in the manufacture, distribution and marketing of automotive batteries. The interview identified managerial functions, the skills required at different managerial level, the management roles of the manager and how technological advancement affects the manager's job. Based on the results of the interview, it is evidently supported that conceptual skills of Katz's principle are reflected in Mr.Gan's job as a top line manager. However, there are other roles that are found to be relevant to Mr.Gan's job as well.

Katz wrote that performance of a manager depends on his fundamental skills rather than on his individuality traits (Katz,1955). According to him, it is important to know what the managers do, not what the managers are. He then proposed a three category typology of skills: technical, human and conceptual.

Technical skills involved understanding and ability in a certain specialized fields where a specific skill is needed (Katz, 1955). This type of knowledge is acquired by a combination of formal education, training, and job experience. According to Katz, technical skills meant working with things, not people (Katz, 1955).Technical skills are most important at the lower level of administration and as an administrator moves to higher levels, the need for technical competency decreases (Katz,1955). In relevance to Katz's theory, as a top line manager, Mr Gan uses limited technical skills in his job aspect. For eg, he provides technical support and presentations to his subordinates through charts. Also, he uses his limited technical skills to ensure that his organization and activities operate are legal and do not cause an adverse impact to workers or the environment. Hence, it can be seen that as a top line manager, Mr. Gan does not involve himself in hands-on operations and activities; instead he employs technical engineers, maintenance engineers and skill workers to run the operations and production. This strongly supports Katz's technical theory.

Interpersonal skills are essential to communicate, to motivate and to create team spirit between the subordinates, superiors, peers, and outsiders (Yukl,2002). Such skills are either inborn or acquired through training and exposure to work environment (Katz,1955). Mr Gan's human skills were well honed as he is the Director of his company; he is constantly working directly with his colleagues, staffs and his board of directors. He emphasized that there is a need to be a team player in an organization in order to achieve the targeted organizational goals. In times of decision making, human skills are essentially needed (Katz,1955).This is essential because everything a leader says and does have an effect on his associates. This belief appears to reflect Mr. Gan's role at the company. As a top level manager, he frequently holds top level meetings and brain storming sessions with his board of directors to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. This shows that he uses his human skills to communicate and to work cooperatively among his colleagues to resolve conflicts. On the other hand, this shows that Mr. Gan has the attributes of a disseminator role as well. As a disseminator, he transmits information received from outsiders or from subordinates to members of the organization during the meetings held (Mintzberg, 1975).Barnard (1930) believed that it is the manager's job to communicate and stimulate employees to achieve high levels of performance. Mr. Gan knows that it is important to provide employees with the right and adequate tools for the employee to work with. Therefore, he identifies weaknesses in the organization and often provides training and seminars as the necessary tools for their efficient performance. From this, it can be seen that human skills are needed in his job as a top line manager in order to disseminate information and to motivate his members.

Conceptual skills are the ability to mould an idea into a concept so that it can be more easily presented to and understood by the targeted group (Yulk, 2002). According to Katz, conceptual skills become the most important ability of all at the top level of administration (Katz, 1955). This is strongly supported, as Mr. Gan is a top level administrator, he claims conceptual skills is significant in his job as he has to conceptualize so that his workers and people can readily relate to the problems at hand. Katz further proposed that these skills extend to visualizing the relationship of the firm to the external environment (Katz, 1955). Using his conceptual skills, Mr.Gan identifies how the company can be affected by external factors so that the damage can be mitigated. Once a problem is identified, he determines what needs to be done, how it will be done and who to do it. It is clearly visible that his role also involves organizing, one of Fayol's management functions (Fayol, 1949). "It is important to shine and be different in today's world" said Mr. Gan. He said, in order to survive in this competitive world, one has to apply conceptual skills in creating new ideas and concepts. It can be deduced that conceptual skills is strongly needed in his job as a top line manager in order to simplify problem areas and implement simple and practical solutions to the problems identified.

Katz acknowledged that these skills are interrelated when applied to managerial problems (Katz, 1955). He further claims that different degree of application of these skills are required at varying levels of management within the organization (Katz,1955). These roles are not easily separable. For example, without conceptual skills, Mr. Gan is unable to recognize problem areas and implement solutions to those problems. As a result, he cannot make effective decisions. It is clear that the successful migration from entry level to mid-level manager and from mid-level manager to top level manager is a direct correlation of the accumulation of the required experiences and skills as one moves up the corporate ladder (Guglielmino & Carroll,n.d)

In today's world, with rapid technological changes and increasing competition, acquiring new technology becomes crucial to enable firms to develop new products more quickly. The usage of technology is worldwide. Technology definitely increase productivity, machine efficiency, creates economies of scales. This will lead to lower cost of production; hence improve competitiveness for the company's product in the market. If one do not or unable to adapt to technological advancement, one will lose out to the competitors eventually. Most organizations indicate that the major reasons for employing technological changes in their organization are to reduce labor costs, improve efficiency and productivity of the company and eventually generate a greater profitability for the company (The Hunter Group, 2001).

With the aid of technology, organizations are able to achieve economies of scales through mass production, improve productivity, increase speed in terms of processes, and reduces human errors. With technological advancement, human efforts are being replaced with machine efforts. The introduction of flexible machine tools and programmable equipments are capable in performing variety of tasks. When asked how technology changes affected his organization, Mr Gan mentioned that his company reduced their number of workforce to be replaced with machineries. He also added that this change was able to reduce their overhead expenses and that their organization's efficiency and productivity increases as well causing an increase in their company's profitability.

Besides increasing efficiency and productivity, technology advancement reduces time consumption in performing tasks. As automated machines are faster in recording, filing, and processing information, this reduces time consumption taken through manual recording. As everything is computerized, inputing data and retrieving information can be done within seconds and with no human errors involved as the functions are preprogrammed. Before the advent of technology, Mr, Gan used to prepare his work for discussion on pieces of paper and he armed himself also with a calculator. He finds it so cumbersome and time consuming if there are changes to be made in his reports or figures presentations. Thus, it is a welcome change that he is able to use software to edit any of his reports now with technological changes because any amendments or corrections just need to be made thru a click of a mouse.

In addition to that, technology allows processes to be integrated such as to do video conferencing especially when the personnel involved for discussion in the meeting is overseas. Previously, before technology advancement, Mr Gan had to make frequent overseas trips to market his products thus incurring additional overheads and time. Now, his company is able to market their products worldwide through electronic business in order to achieve its goals efficiently and effectively.

It can be seen that technological advancement has certainly improves Mr.Gan's organization production, efficiency, cost effectiveness and also Mr Gan's job as a manager in his company. Even though, new technologies are not beneficial to the employees or the environment to which they are newly introduced and that new processes and equipment may bring about unemployment or the rejection of skilled workers, however, this does not concern the organization as their goals are achieved effectively and efficiently.

In conclusion, based on the interview with Mr. Gan, it is clearly evident that there is significant skills of Katz's three skills present in Mr Gan's job as a top line manager. As a top line manager, he uses limited technical skills in his job as he does not limit himself in performing specialized tasks. Also, as a manager, Mr Gan applies human skills when he disseminates information to his members and when he motivates them. However, among the three skills, conceptual skills is strongly needed in his job as a top line manager in order to simplify problem areas and implement simple and practical solutions to the problems identified. Besides Katz's skills, there are other skills needed by the managers in order to perform his duties at an optimum level. Such as Fayol's 14 principle of management and Mintzberg's managerial roles. The influence of technology has a direct impact on Mr Gan's managerial work in his company. As technology advances, Mr Gan's work becomes more productive, effective and efficient.

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