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There are a myriad of various system administrators trainings nowadays, especially in America, where this industry seems to be a burning issue, however, the question ‘What makes a good system administrator?’ cannot be answered by a solid voice. Though, developing programs created by some leading organizations cover various aims.

This kind of misunderstanding is rooted in the industry characteristics to seek a perfect worker who can easily and efficiently deal with any problem on any level. The USA industry observer pointed out that the executive type is generally accepted in this or that way. On the other hand, every executive is aware of the fact that the administrators are needed for any job in an organization. The quality of work needed by diverse companies is not the same, of course. The literature of executive development aims to give a definition to the traits necessary to the executives, which seems to be sound. No one would disagree that such traits as decisiveness, the ability to come up with good judgment and some other attractive characteristics are needed for those who plan to be managers. However, some best managers can lack the mentioned qualities.

Though, this haunt for an ideal executive performed by almost every company leads to forgetting the real important trait, i.e. a man ability to accomplish tasks.

The main purpose of the give article is to come up with some efficient ways of selecting and developing the administrators. This idea bases on the workers behavior, i.e. their skills which help them to perform their tasks successfully, but not on their personal characteristics. This article presupposes that a skill is not an inborn ability, but the one which can be improved; moreover, it is not something potential, but efficiently used in performance. Thus, skillful man is a man, who can work effectively under diverse conditions.

According to the approach mentioned above three basic developable skills form the efficient administration. Additionally, thanks to these skills there is no need to find special characteristics; however, they help correctly deal with the administrative process. Having analyzed both theoretical studying of administration and hands-on experience, the professionals came up with the approach discribed above.

Below you will find a try to give the detailed information about three mentioned skills; to assume that the rate of three skills importance depends on the level of administrative responsibility; to display the aftermath of this diversity for selection, teaching and executives promotion, as well as providing the methods to develop these 3 skills.

Three-Skill Approach

It is stated that the following responsibilities belong to an administrator: Managing the personnel work and reaching some goals in this way. Thus, successful administration depends on technical, human and conceptual skills. There is no doubt that these skills are related to each other, however, they are worth discussing seperately.

Technical skill

In the given article under the title technical skills the author means being well abreast of and skilled in techniques, methods, operations and approaches. Everyone has an idea of how the doctor, the teacher or the builder perform their functions, i.e. show technical skills, which include special relevant knowledge, the ability to analyze the work, as well as being able to deal with facilities and techniques essential to this discipline.

Among all mentioned skills, technical ones are thought to be the most evident and known, since a lot of people obtain it in the world of specialization. Moreover, all specialized courses cater for getting and developing technical skills

Human skills

Under the notion human skills one can understand being able to work in a team and manage the work of each member. Unlike technical skills, which are oriented on inanimate things, such as process or objects, human skills cater to people. It is possible to speak about this type of skills, judging by the way a person behaves inside the team of members.

Being skilled in this field means to understand own concerns and hopes about other team members, in addition, this person is able to see pros and cons of having these feelings. Furthermore, being tolerant with ideas and opinions different from his own is to understand what is hidden behind other people actions and words. He is as well skillful enough to deal with other people in their contexts.

The main objection of such a person is to build up a pleasant and secure atmosphere, which provokes the workers to show themselves by being involved in mapping out and performing things that can have a direct effect on them. The person with such skills is susceptible to others’ needs and grounds so he can come up with set of necessary actions to take. This feeling of understanding people enables this person to act, considering the perceptions by others.

However, the skill can be treated as a real one if it becomes a person’s second nature and lasts not only when it’s necessary to make a decision but in all mundane situations. The given skill should definitely be permanent. Neither of the techniques can be chosen arbitrarily, as well as person’s character cannot be put on and then taken off as a piece of clothes. One can speak of the person’s effectiveness if this skill is an essential part of this person’s character, i.e. is seen in any made step.

It’s definitely easier to name the cases of incorrect use of human skills, than those of well performed, since they are an essential part of administrator’s work. Taking into account the present state of affairs the following example might show what is included: Once a designer of a conveyor was asked to be a supervisor that is to take a position lower than his, the reason of which was the installation of a new unit at the shoe plant. Manager stated that it would last until the moment a new supervisor is found. They spoke about the following:

Production Manager (PM), Engineer (E)

PM: having experience in working with conveyors, I decided that you will be the one who will control its uninterrupted work (excluding rest time) at the full speed. Your task is to direct the work of experienced operators into another direction, i.e. to start producing 2 pairs of shoes per minute and in a week we will have 350 dozen pairs. However, the minimum of production should make up 250 dozen pairs of shoes.

E: I will accept the position of a foreman in case everything is done at my direction. I am also experienced in working with conveyors, so I am not on the same page with you about pushing the conveyor to its limits.

People, who will work on it, have never done these operations before, so it’s necessary to increase the speed step by step.

In addition, it’s better to speak about daily basis rate but not weekly one.

Taking into account the operators who are not highly experienced in this sphere, a day minimum should be about 40-45 dozen pair. This number can be increased as soon as the workers get used to this quantity.

PM: We can agree upon the speed, but the base rate is not the thing to discuss, it’s an order to produce 250 dozen pair per week.

It is an example of how the manager can be sold on the results without paying much attention to the workers who can fulfill his demands. So, firstly, the engineer was demoted, perhaps because the producer manager wanted him to prove that his project is worth something. On the other hand, the production manager appeared to be blind firstly to the fact that the engineer took this position for demotion and secondly to the engineer necessity to act according to his own ideas in order to show a good result. On the contrary, the production manager set up his own norm without taking into account fresh ideas opposite to his own.

Furthermore, the production manager expected too much from the operators who aren’t used to new work as well as cooperating in a freshly made team and appointed norms. Being oblivious to all these human factors, the production manager put the engineer and operators into inconvenient environment, demanding high output at the same time.

Though, it’s not difficult to understand that the manger and the engineer can’t get along together, as well as the results appeared to be poor, i.e. 125 dozen pairs in a week (that’s about 75% of the number achieved before introducing a new system).

Conceptual skill

In the given article the notion “conceptual skill” is displayed as the ability to take the organization for an integral unit. In this way, the worker, having such a skill, takes into account each part and function of the company and understands the interdependence of changes occurred indifferent parts. Furthermore, the skill helps to see the relations between the individual business and other branches of nation’s life (such as industry, community, etc.) Being able to recognize such relations as well as single out essential parts in any case, the administrator’s main objective is to enhance prosperity of the whole enterprise.

Though, a made decision can be called right only if both those who make them and put them into practice obtain the conceptual skill. E.g., it is essential to be abreast of how the changes in policy of marketing have impact on various spheres in the organisation. The same is true to all executive, whose task is to deploy this new policy. Success is likely to be reached if the executive sees the important role of changes made. Moreover, he can surely administrate them best of all.

No wonder that conceptual skills turn out to be crucial to efficacious administrating of both diverse parts and business in total in the present and in the future. Moreover, they predetermine the way the organization develops, thus, so forms the peculiarities of the given company which distinguish it from the rest of the same type. These special traits appear as a result of the administrator reaction to the way the enterprise develop and to all aspects involved in it (e.g. aims, policies etc).

Chester I. Barnard, former president of the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, states that conceptual skill is: “…the integral branch of the [executive] process is the sensing of the organization as a whole and of the total situation relevant to it.”

However, conceptual skills can be used incorrectly, for example:

In the big enterprise, where the process is oriented on the scheme “job-shop”, the foremen and some supervisors’ duty was to manage the line. The typical kind of operations, called “Village”, presupposed the work of small teams. However, the situation changed after the second world war, when the demands on production greatly increased as well as taxes. At that time the need for a production manager appears, who in his turn set up a variety of controls plus adjusted the whole production structure.

During this hype the workers had nothing to do but comply with the updated way of operations and environment. However, as soon as the rate of demand returned to the prewar one, a number of problems in labour appeared as well as the controversy between the heads of departments. As a result, indirect occupational earnings had to be paid. Furthermore, the responsibility of operation management again lied on the formen, while the production manager was fired. Four-year- period of technical controlled to the fact that the foremen could not continue their practice and a host of them changed their workpĺace, but the replacement was not prepared yet, and job-shop manufacturing appeared to be expensive and inefficacious.

In this case, having put both a new kind of production controls and formalized institutions in action, the results (if the business is contracted) were not predicted. Some time later, with new conditions the need to decrease operations appeared, so the leaders failed to see the implications and turned to the initial procedures, however, they could not be used anymore. The given fail made the company unable to meet competition.

As the company achievements are dependent on the management’s so-called conceptual skills in improving and bringing policy decisions into action, the given skill turns out to be linking and cohesive component of both the administrative procedure and evident importance.

Relative importance

In this way, the conceptual skill unifies both technical and human sides of the company. Though, the concept “skill”, which can be defined as a way the knowledge turns into practice, makes it possible for the leader to tell the difference between 3 skills, i.e. technical (dealing with technical aspects), human (taking into consideration workers’ interests) and finally conceptual skills (directing all activities and organization’s interests  in order to reach a common target).

So, the division into 3 basic skills in order to organize an efficient administration helps have a deeper analysis. When put into practice, the border between these skills is not easy to see, since they are closely connected. On the other hand, it’s still possible to gain the advantage of having a closer look at each of them. For instance, while playing goal, almost all parts of the body work mutually, but improving the work of each part leads to improvement the results of the game, however, the importance of the elements is different by diverse conditions. The same is about the basic skills, all of them are of paramount importance while administrating, but the importance of each of them depends on the level of responsibility.

Dealing with low levels

The success in the today’s industry is achieved due to the technical skills, essential for efficacious operation. However, these skills are of utmost importance at the lower levels of administration. As soon as the administrator estranges himself from the technical operation, for instance, by teaching his people to operate, the need of technical skills disappears and now he can aid to solve the subordinates’ personal problems. If to speak about the top level, the use of technical skills here is limited since the executives can perform well at the expense of 2 other types of skills, that is human and conceptual ones. E.g.:

The manufacturing vice president of the large company ceased to a harsh illness, that’s why he was replaced by an on-call controller. Despite having no relevant experience in the production sphere, the controller devoted 20 years to this company, that’s why he is well acquainted with key production personnel. Using the right tactics in arranging the staff, the controller managed to take all the functions under control and in make up an efficacious group. As a result, the costs decreased, while the productivity greatly increased and the morale reached a new level, unknown before. Thus, the management drew the conclusion that the controller’s human skills covered the technical ones.

More examples can be found everywhere. Moreover, there are a lot of model managers, who can easily and still effectively go to another industry, since the lack of technical skills in the new sphere is compensated by other skills.

Dealing with all levels

Unlike technical skills, human skills are of paramount importance at any level.According to the research carried recently, human skill plays the great role at the foreman level, as the main function of a foreman is to make up a team, which can get along together. Some other researches deal with the middle-management group, and state that it is an administrator’s primary duty to enhance the interaction in the company. And finally, the third group of studies, having chosen top management as its research base, emphasizes the necessity of the executives to pay attention to human relations. Thus, the results of these researches prove the importance of human skills, however, the pointing out is of different levels.

The lower the level, the more essential human skills appear to be, since there the administrators and their workers have to interact more frequently. Though, at the higher levels the direct communication plummets and human skills become less important, however, not disappear. Yet, when it is about making policy decisions as well as taking broad-scale actions the importance of conceptual skills increases. In this case, human skills combine with the conceptual ones and become an integrated unit.

According to Chris Argyris, Professor of Yale University, there is an example of a plant manager, whose lack of human skills does not prevent him from being quite successful:

The manager of an autonomous department thanks to his strong character and “iron” fist managed to make his own supervisors. Moreover, the correct use of rewards and penalties facilitated the control as well.

In the result, the workers did their best to win the favour. They tried to avoid mentioning undesirable to the manager things and to find out his wishes.The workers could not set their own aims independently from the manager since he was the one to show how to get them. In addition, the unpredictability and incoherence of the manager caused some arguments between the insecure supervisors from different departments.

It’s clear that in this case human skill is absent. However, the manager is definitely effective, since the results are positive. Professor Arhyris also states, that it is in the nature of a modern employee to be dependent on the headman and as a result it can serve good.

Looking at it from the point of view of the 3-skill approach, the given manager succeeded in using the dependence, because he first of all realized the way the activities under his control are related to each other, then associated himself with the company, directed the interests of his workers in a way, they correspond to his own, i.e. to the company’s, and finally managed to set the relevant objectives and showed the way to achieve them. So, this case perfectly shows how the absence of human skills can be made up for by conceptual ones.

Working with the top level

As it has already been mentioned conceptual skills are essential and even the most important at the levels where the executive’s responsibilities are high.

For example, according to Herman W. Steinkraus, who takes the position of president in Bridgeport Brass Company, the presidency helped him firstly to learn how to create an efficacious team from diverse departments, and feel how the importance of different departments to the organization changes.

It seems, that while human and technical skills are crucial at the low levels of administrating work, conceptual skills push them out at the higher levels. Yet, conceptual skills become of utmost importance at the top level of any company to perform successfully. Having a strong team, the leader can be devoid of human and/or technical skills without harm to effectiveness. However, this is not true to the conceptual skills since the lack of them puts the success of the company under threat.

Aftermaths for Action

The 3-skill approach shows that benefits depend on the way the goals of the executive development programs are defined, the change of the executives place in the company and finally reconsideration of the process of executive testing and picking.

The way the executive can be developed

Due to the lack of administrative skills, some executive development programs do not lead to the willing results. The candidates’ administrative skills are not developed if the program caters to only giving the information and forming certain traits.

According to the director of a large company, their program is as follows:

They set up a monthly meeting of promising employees and seniour executives, where the first ones have an opportunity to get to know as much about the company and its history as possible.

No doubts that both parts do not see the progress in their administrative abilities with the program.

Only judging by the responses of administrator in various situations, it’s possible to state that the developing of only specific traits is irrelevant. So, he can shift his traits, that is to be dominant in the communication with those of lower position and submissive with the opposite, with the aim to get the best results. However, here is another example of the problem “Which trait is desirable?”

A sales manager from Pacific Coast was known by being decisive, though, having been asked to name an assistant who could substitute him, he intentionally avoided choosing. Here he showed himself as indecisive person.

In several months the sales manager appeared to put unobtrusively different salesmen in the conditions where they could show their positions and feelings. Finally, he managed to single out the one employee, who was accepted by the rest of the group.

The example shows that this professional action was taken for indecisiveness. Because everybody was concentrated on unessential traits, they payed no attention to competence of his work. It’s possible to come to conclusion that human skills helped him to correspond to the need of the situation.

So, it’s clear that the administrator should be judged by the results of his work but not the traits. Skills unlike the traits are easily indicated and are understandable. Additionally, skills have more applicable character, i.e. with constant development the performance becomes more effective.

Then some programs fail due to not qualified orientation on the human relations course. There are, however, 2 drawbacks : the first one consists in the fact that the courses of developing human relations can lead to the sheer sharing of information and some technics, but not to the real development of essential skills. And secondly, the excessive orientation on the development of human skills causes the lack of training of the employees who are to take top positions. The result can be harmful, since well-developed human skills and undeveloped conceptual ones prevent administrators from being effective.

So, it’s of utmost importance to drill the skill necessary at certain level of executive responsibility.

Executive placement

The given 3-skill concept makes it possible to make up a qualified management teams, in which each member has highly developed skills. There is a good example of such a team in a company of medium-size, where president obtains well-developed conceptual skills, however his vice presidents are skilled in human relations. In the result, they complement each other. This scheme of “task leadership” plus “social leadership was proposed by Robert F. Bales.

Selection of the executive

The modern way of determining expectative abilities for a job is to use diverse testing devices. The tests results are under the question since they are concerned more with the traits than the skills which can prove the ability to perform.

Now an employee’s ability to deal with any difficult working situation can be tested by a new tool which is known to us as a three-skill approach. The process of selecting and identifying development is similar to the one which points out the things the worker can do in certain situations. The detailed information is given below.

Thus, the executives should be chosen by the skills they obtain but not by the number of traits and characteristics peculiar to them.

The skills’ development

People have put under the question the idea that some chosen executives were born with the ability to be a leader. And though no one can dispute the fact that certain skills are inner, still they can be developed by persistent trainings.

The understanding of the notion “skill” in administrating let us hope for the improvement of the effectiveness and creating better administrators for the future work. In this way the worker learns while working. It’s clear that to learn, people use different approaches, however, practice is the best teacher, since in this way skills are related to some experience. With precise and accurate drilling, the necessary skills are mastered faster than while random experience, moreover, they are more stable. Here are some ways through which a man can drill his / her skills.

Technical skill

For recent years, industry and educational institutions paid attention to the technical skill development and at the result made some progress. The combination of the structure and other constituents of the man work and real practice under control of a supervisor are quite efficacious. Since there are a large number of ways to drill the given skill, the additional information will not be given here.

Human skill

Unlike technical skill, the human one is more complicated, so the progress has not been made until recently. Nowadays the basics of human skills are inserted into some disciplines studied at universities, e.g. sociology, anthropology and psychology.

Apart from this, the given approaches to development of human skills are applied to other disciplines which can be helpful to those who lack human skill. However, one should not rely only on pieces of advice given by others. However, in order to be an effective executive, one should make up his/her own opinion dealing with human activity, in this case the executive will be able to:

  1. see what emotional constitute he brings to a certain situation.
  2. Evaluate his own progress and learn from mistakes.
  3. Understand, judging by the way the workers act, what they want to say.
  4. Successfully express his/her own thoughts about others.

Executives can easily develop this human skill by themselves, however, there are special “coachings” where one can be taught by a superior. Thus, the better the superior’s human skill is developed, the more efficacious the executive will be.

Another approach can be applicable to larger groups, i.e. role-playing. This courses can be formal or informal, but it is possible only with professional instructor who can organize the whole training. The advantage is that one is put in the conditions close to the real ones and can get sound criticism which cannot be got in real situations. It’s also important for a trainee to examine himself especially his concepts and values which let him improve the attitude about co-workers and himself. The executive becomes skilled enough to cope with human issues if the attitudes change.

One of the ways to test human skill is to simulate similar situations with administrative action in the classroom, in this case the person has to act the proposed situation out without omitting any detail. This simulation aids the person to have a look at the whole situation and evaluate his own ability to act.

Speaking about real work process, it’s necessary to find time when a superior can watch how the person gets through the cooperation with others. This evaluation of human skill, as well as some promotions, cannot be completely objective. However, it’s better not to berate the subjectivity, but to make up the workers with high level of human skill in order to approximate the judgment to the objectivity.

Conceptual skill

The same situation is with conceptual skill, i.e. it is not well learned. Some trainings in development of this skill lead to success, some not. Though, the scheme “superiors teach subordinates” works well. So, one of the main executives responsibilities is to aid the workers in developing their potential. This “help” can be put in practice in a way that the superior instead of giving the ready answers puts additional questions. Benjamin F. Fairless, being president of the corporation, supports this way:

“when the members of an operating company ask for instructions, I put additional questions. No one failed to cope with the problems themselves yet”

Of course, this procedure is an essential part of developing all three types of skills. Although, if the superior lacks abilities as well as willingness the aim won’t be reached.

The second way of developing conceptual skill is trading job, namely, the process of leading business, however, at the same level of responsibility. So, the worker can try on the responsibilities of others.

There some other options to develop the given skill, for example, giving the task to solve inter-departmental issues, or try to shift roles, i.e. the subordinates advise the superiors on some plans.

The same approach can be applied to a larger groups, however, the case should be broader. The courses of such type are becoming more and more popular.

Classroom work presupposes the detailed analysis of difficult situations. The workers are asked to prepare a plan of operations in all situations, which shows the effect on diverse parts of the company and the whole environment there.

In practice, the supervisor’s task is to find time to watch how the person can refer himself and everything he does to the organization.

Both human and conceptual skill should be an essential part of the executive. Various methods have different impact on diverse people, depending on experience and other relevant factors. However, while choosing the method, it’s important to focus on developing the skill to be abe to see the organization both as a whole and different parts.

In the end

To sum it up, the aim of the article is to emphasize that technical, human and conceptual skills are basic to efficacious administrating. To be able to do mechanic work, to be a harmonic and essential component of the team, to be able to coordinate with others and finally to see the interrelations of different factors of the situation in order to gain the benefit to the whole company the administrator needs all these skills.

However, the skills are not similarly important at different levels of responsibility. Technical and human skills are essential at lower levels, while at higher level administrator needs human and conceptual skills. But when it is about the top level, conceptual skill is prior to the rest of them.

The given article proves that the good administrator is not born but developed. To develop necessary skill, one first of all should indicate the level of responsibility and then choose the right “coaching “.