Of the three skill sets identified by Katz, technical skills are the broadest category and the most easily defined. A technical skill is defined as a learned capacity in just about any given field of work, study, or even play.
Front-line managers represent a substantial portion of management; they rely on their technical skills daily.
The act of committing a task to someone, especially a subordinate.
Defining Technical Skills
Robert Katz identifies three critical skill sets for successful management professionals: technical skills, human skills, and conceptual skills. While these three broad skill categories encompass a wide spectrum of capabilities, each category represents a useful bucket for these skills to fall into and describes the way in which these skills interact with management at various levels.
Of the three skill sets identified by Katz, technical skills are the broadest, most easily defined category. A technical skill is defined as a learned capacity in just about any given field of work, study, or even play. For example, the quarterback of a football team must know how to plant his feet and how to position his arm for accuracy and distance—both technical skills. A mechanic, meanwhile, needs to be able to deconstruct and reconstruct an engine, to employ various machinery (lifts, computer scanning equipment, etc.), and to install a muffler.
Front-Line Managers' Technical Skills
Managers also need a broad range of technical know-how. All industries need management, and management must exist at various organizational levels. Front-line managers represent a substantial part of management who must use their technical skills daily. Front-line managers must communicate up the chain of command while still speaking the language of the workers who are executing the hands-on components of the industry. A technical skill for a front-line manager might include a working understanding of a piece of equipment: the manager must be able to coach the employee on its operation, as well as communicate to upper managers the basic functions of the machinery.
Technical Skills in Upper Management
In addition to front-line managers, managers in other corporate roles and at higher levels require critical technical skills. These can include office-based competencies such as typing, programming, website maintenance, writing, giving presentations, and using software such as Microsoft Office or Adobe. Office environments require a complex set of communicative, technological, and data-organization skills in order to optimize managerial performance.
Successful managers in an organization must therefore learn to use the technological assets at their disposal, collecting critical information and data to communicate upward for strategicplanning. An example of information management is a mid-level manager in the automotive industry who is responsible for recognizing global marketing potential. This individual must be capable of realizing the legal, demographic, social, technological, and economic considerations of entering a market; the manager will use effective research and delegation skills and also consolidate the information into a useful presentation using technological and communicative skills.
Katz postulates that the higher up in the organization an individual rises, the more conceptual skills (and fewer technical skills) are necessary. Senior managers need fewer technical skills because strategic decision-making is inherently more conceptual; mid- and lower-level skills such as data collection, assessment, and discussion are all more technical. Even so, all disciplines of management require a broad range of skill sets for effective business processes to occur.
A technical skill for a front-line manager might include a working understanding of a piece of equipment: the manager must be able to coach the employee on its operation, as well as communicate to upper managers the basic functions of the machinery.