“Dr. R. Narendran (PhD in Veterinary Science, University of Guelph) is a consultant and advisor at United National Dairy (UND) in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia.UND is now the fifth largest dairy farm in Saudi Arabia and is one of the leading fresh dairy and juice producing companies. During the interview, Dr. Narendran was asked to identify management functions, the skills required for successful management and his actual role as a manager in the organization with detailed examples. This essay will illustrate how Katz’ theory of management skills (human skills in particular) are reflected in Dr. Narendran’s methods of management and how technology and environmental uncertainty affect his work.”
Dr. R. Narendran (PhD in Veterinary Science, University of Guelph) is a consultant and advisor at United National Dairy (UND) in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia.UND is now the fifth largest dairy farm in Saudi Arabia and is one of the leading fresh dairy and juice producing companies. UND has its own farm with a herd of approximately 10,000 milking cows which yield over 80,000 litres of fresh milk every day. UND’s dairy products and beverages are marketed and sold under the brand names Rayan, Prima and Koolup.
Dr. Narendran is a top-level manager who is responsible for overseeing the technical operations and purchasing activities. He reports to the managing director of the company, who then reports to the board of directors of which he is a member. Dr. Narendran’s main functions are to provide high quality training solutions and consultancy services in areas such as transparency, good governance, financial management and project management.
During the interview, Dr. Narendran was asked to identify management functions, the skills required for successful management and his actual role as a manager in the organization with detailed examples. This essay will illustrate how Katz’ theory of management skills (human skills in particular) are reflected in Dr. Narendran’s methods of management and how technology and environmental uncertainty affect his work.
Robert L. Katz’ management theory looks at skills that managers require in order to carry out work activities efficiently and effectively. He divided them into three: technical (specialist knowledge), human (communication and interpersonal) and conceptual (analysis and problem solving) skills (Donnelly, J.H., 1994). Dr. Narendran rated all three skills with fives showing that they are an integral part of his job. For example, he stated that his skills in veterinary science enable him to manage a large dairy farm (10,000 animals), his interpersonal skills assist him in managing specialized and non-specialized staff and his skills in conceptualizing facilitate long term project planning with regard to the expansion of the farm and processing plant.
But, this essay will be concentrating on human skills and its importance in Dr. Narendran’s daily work. Human skills are associated with the ability to work easily with other people, both individually and in groups. This is extremely important for managers as efficient and effective completion of work related activities depends on how well work is done with and through people. “It requires skill in leadership, communications, team building and decision making. The skill influences the manager’s relationships not only with subordinates, but also with peers, supervisors, customers and external groups” (Donnelly, J.H., 1994).
Katz believed that human skills “are important for managers at all levels”. An organization’s success depends on the performance of all its employees (Robbins et all, 2006). The accomplishment of a company’s goals is linked with effectiveness, thus making it important for managers to motivate employees to increase effectiveness. Dr. Narendran uses this theory to great effect by using incentives and praise to encourage his employees. He stated that his “method is not to micromanage, but to leave room for creativity and always praise results”. For example, after the successful installation and completion of the Coca Cola production line in the factory, Dr. Narendran made it a point to mention the team who worked on the project and praised them for their hard work during the launch ceremony.
Robbins et al. (2006, p. 30), states that managers need to be able to “successfully blend knowledge, skills, ambitions and experiences of a diverse work group”. This is especially true in Dr. Narendran’s case, (he rated interpersonal skills with a 5 in the interview) as he is in charge of a large dairy farm and processing plant which requires numerous skilled and un-skilled staff from different ethnicities, nationalities and even religions (Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country well known for its stringent laws and negative attitudes towards other religions).
Dr. Narendran has had to manage and resolve conflicts where non-Muslim employees are routinely coerced to convert to Islam by their Muslim co-workers and even instances where a non-Muslim employee who resorted to stealing and drinking swabbing alcohol from the first aid station had been arrested according to the laws in that land. In the latter case, Dr. Narendran had to pacify authorities and had the employee deported to his native country instead. The 1955 edition of the Harvard Business Review published an article by Katz titled “Skills of an effective administrator”, in it he defined “human skills as the ability to work cooperatively with others, to communicate effectively, to resolve conflict, and to be a team player.” (Peterson et all, 2004).
People are considered to be a vital resource in every organization, and in order to make efficient use of them, managers must have good interpersonal skills. To be effective, this skill must be naturally developed and unconsciously, as well as consistently, demonstrated in an individual’s every action (Huusko, 2006). Dr. Narendran abides by this theory as can be seen in the examples illustrated in the paragraph above.
Katz (1955, p. 34) argues that “real skill in working with others must become a natural, continuous activity, since it involves sensitivity not only at times of decision making but also day-by-day behaviour of the individual. . . Because everything a leader says and does (or leaves unsaid or undone) has an effect on his associates. Thus, to be effective, this skill must be naturally developed and unconsciously, as well as consistently, demonstrated in the individual’s every action.” (Huusko, 2006)