Since the beginning of the year, I have been doing various brief articles on skills for administration, ranging from communication skills to planning and others. The fact is that administrators are expected to bring in suitable skills which they must exhibit in carrying out their jobs effectively. It must, however, be noted that these skills can be developed and people were not born with them.
A good administrator’s skills must manifest in their performance and not necessarily in just their personality. It is fine to be liked by the staff for a nice personality, but what every organisation desires in an administrator, is effectiveness. So, one key thing to look out for when hiring an administrator for your organisation would be what he or she can accomplish and this may be inferred from what they have accomplished in their previous organisations.
Basically, since an administrator’s job entails directing the activities of other employees (planning, supervision, evaluation, communicating with them), it implies that they must have the requisite skills or at least be willing to work on the skills which their job would demand. We may want to classify all the skills an effective administrator needs as technical, human and conceptual skills.
The technical skills of an administrator must be sound enough to bring in a proper understanding of the methods, processes and procedures required to get the job done in the particular organisation they work. The use of tools such as the computer, Microsoft Office and writing or presentation skills, etc., come under here.
In organisations, most training programmes are planned at developing the technical skills of administrators. It seems not much is done at developing the human skills which we will look at very shortly.
The administrator’s ability to harness the potentials, abilities and skills of the individuals that make up the workforce and the team, is what is referred to as the human skills. Come to think of it: no administrator can succeed at his or her job without the ability to manage people.
The individuals in a workforce come with their varieties and mixes of personalities, temperaments, beliefs, attitudes and agenda but the administrator has to find the means of getting them to cooperate with him or her to achieve the desired objectives of the organisation. This is where social skills and emotional intelligence come into play. The administrator recognizes each team member’s strengths and ably deploys them and assigns them to the right tasks and responsibilities where they can function to contribute their parts to the growth and development of the organisation.
The goals or the objectives intended for the organisation cannot be achieved meaningfully if there is no harmony and support from the workforce. The administrator understands group dynamics and how to build a successful team, understanding the team members’ unique temperaments, personalities, idiosyncrasies, and their weaknesses. He is sensitive to the origination’s culture and the exact mix of the individuals he leads. He is open to other team members opinions, perceptions, view points and recommendations as well as their criticisms. He minds the words he uses, cares about the feelings of his team members and does what is required to get the team’s support on projects he wants to embark on.
He surrounds himself with the right people to bounce off his ideas and be a safe sounding board for his thoughts and plans for the organisation. A good administrator tries as much as he can to create a welcoming atmosphere for all the team members irrespective of their differences.
And then, we have conceptual skills which enable an organisation to look at an entire organisation as a whole with thoughts about where it is heading, and how to get there. The administrator who is strong on conceptual skills understands how coordination helps to keep all the departments and units of an organisation together. An administrator understands and tries really hard to make others understand how the various units and departments fit together to make a whole; how the actions of one department can impact in a certain way on another, and the whole organisation.
The administrator must act and take decisions which enhance the productivity and welfare of the total organisation. It is important that every department and unit is adequately considered in the possible consequences of the decisions taken in the organisation.
At this point I would like to remind us that every administrator needs to be mindful that their personality permeates the organization’s culture and the perception that the employees have about him or her matters a lot. The matter in which the administrator responds to the objectives, policies and politics of the organisation, matters a lot too.
On the whole, when an administrator is inadequate in his conceptual skills, he ends up putting the organisation at a competitive disadvantage. This is because an organization’s success is pretty much dependent on the administrator’s ability to formulate the right policies and take the best decisions, and in coordinating all the units and departments in an effective administrative process.
In practice, every administrator must remember that skills are basically knowledge translated to action. There is no point storing up knowledge without acting on them for the organization’s good. Only knowledge translated to actions makes for organizational effectiveness.
And remember …that skills can be learnt.
So, go ahead and start developing the right skills for your organization’s growth and for your own development.