Managerial Skills Theory

Cite this article as:"Managerial Skills Theory," in The Business Professor, updated April 1, 2020, last accessed October 29, 2020,

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What are Managerial Skills?

The work of Taylor left open room for determining what skills or abilities a manager should possess to successfully carry out the functions they employ. Theorist Robert L. Katz (1933-2010), is known for providing a framework for understanding managerial skills. Katz categorized skills as follows:

  • Conceptual – Conceptual skill involves the formulation of ideas. Managers understand abstract relationships, develop ideas, and solve problems creatively.
  • Human – Human skill involves the ability to interact effectively with people. Managers interact and cooperate with employees.
  • Technical – Technical skill involves process or technique knowledge and proficiency. Managers use the processes, techniques, and tools of a specific area.

A manager’s level in the organization determines the relative importance of possessing technical, human, and conceptual skills. Top-level managers undertake higher-level planning, such as mission and strategy, which require greater conceptual skills. Supervisors deal with specific processes for delivering value, which necessitates technical skills to manage their area of specialty.

All levels of management need human skills so they can interact and communicate with other people successfully. Meanwhile, technological continue to alter the fundamental structure of firms and calls for new organizational approaches and management skills.

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