3 Key Skills and 4 Major Functions of Management

3 Key Skills and 4 Major Functions of Management

Management is a process where resources are input and profit is the desired output. Managers are the people who supervise the resources to achieve organizational objectives. Every manager performs four major functions of management. The performance of managers depends on three key skills.

Three Levels of Managers

There are three levels of managers. Those are:

1. First-line managers

These are the people who run regular businesses in all forms: sales, marketing, accounting, and so on. So, the first-line managers are the people who manage the day-to-day operations. They are involved in supervising the resources which are involved in real execution.

For example, the Sales team lead is a first-line manager who supervises the sales executives responsible to ensure daily sales.

2. Middle Managers

These are the people who translate top management direction into a detailed plan on how to achieve those. So, middle managers are the supervisors of the first-line managers. They are involved in ensuring resource allocation in different departments which are run by the first-line managers.

For example, the Head of Sales is the middle manager who sets targets for each sales team lead and allocates promotional budget as per such goals.

3. Top-level managers:

These are the managers who set the direction, and strategy of an organization.
Top-level managers are the supervisors of the middle managers. They are involved in setting, a vision, mission, goals, and objectives, and how to achieve those.

For example, Chief Operation Officer (COO) is the top-level manager who reports to the CEO. The COO is responsible to devise a strategy of sales, marketing, and customer support. He/she sets the direction and goals. Middle managers like the Head of Sales, Head of Marketing, and Head of Customer Services reports to the COO.

As described above the roles and required skills of each level of the managers differ. For that reason, the functions of management also differ for each type of manager.

Four Major Functions of Management

The four major functions of management help in understanding the major roles of any manager. Henri Fayol identified these 4 functions. Here are explanations with examples of how the functions vary:

1. Planning:

Top-level management sets the direction. The middle manager makes a course of action to reach the goal in that direction. First-line managers follow those courses of action and plan daily routines so that the officers can execute them.

For example, the COO sets targets to expand the market to a new country. The Head of marketing makes a detailed plan of activities and resources to achieve that. Once the plan is approved by the COO, the Sales manager plans on how to use the budget and human resources to sell products in that new country.

2. Organizing:

Organizing is involved in the allocation of resources and building a working relationship. Top managers organize the organizational resources and distribute them among middle managers. Middle managers then distribute the resources among the individual tools for achieving goals.

For example, the COO sets the budget for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Services. Then the Head of Marketing distributes the allocated marketing budget in different channels of marketing: Trade marketing, Television Commercials, Digital marketing, etc. Then the Digital marketing manager, the first-line manager, sets the digital marketing budget for Facebook, Google, SEO, etc.

3. Leading:

Leading means encouraging people to achieve organizational objectives. Top-level managers lead by a driving mission, stories, and culture. The middle manager leads by motivating the first-line managers to achieve the goals. The first-line manager leads the officers to execute all the plans.

For example, the COO communicates the mission to achieve X number of active customers by end of the year and how that big picture helps all the stakeholders to grow. All the middle managers see the mission and the glory or benefits of achieving that mission. They encourage their respective first-line managers to generate more sales, provide better customer service, and achieve more brand awareness. The first-line manager of Marketing then encourages his/her team to make the TV commercial on reaching that.

4. Controlling:

Controlling is making the required changes to make the organization perform consistently. Each level of manager plays the role of control.

For example, the COO sets a revised target for sales in the mid-year review understanding that the organization has the capability to achieve more. He/she also allocate more budget for sales commission. The Head of Sales then revises the target and budget for his/her teams. Say, the corporate sales team performed way behind the target. The need for recruiting more corporate sales executives is necessary. So the first line manager, the Corporate sales manager, will request that changes to the Head of Sales.

Three Key Skills of Managers

Management is the result of 3 key skills. Those are conceptual skills, human skills, and technical skills.

1. Conceptual Skills:

Top-level managers need to analyze more external information than other level managers. On the other hand, first-line managers need to focus on internal information and depend on the analysis done by middle managers.

For example, the COO analyzes the need for better CRM software to optimize the performance of Sales, Marketing, and Customer Services. Then those middle managers: the Head of Sales, Head of Marketing, and Head of Customer services analyze the available options for CRM software. They take input from first-line managers: Sales managers, marketing managers, and customer service managers on the required features that the CRM software must have.

2. Human Skills:

All managers need human skills as all of them supervise human resources. For example, the Sales Manager needs to understand, motivate, and lead the sales officers. The head of Sales, the middle manager, needs to do the same with the sales manager. Finally, the COO follows the same. Human resources are critical input in any business process that significantly impacts expenses, output, quality, etc. So every manager needs to be good at Human skills.

The techniques vary on the levels and on context. First-line managers may get motivated by a performance bonus when the middle manager might need a foreign tour to attend a seminar.

3. Technical Skills:

Top-level managers need to understand how the goods are produced, how the organization runs etc. But middle managers need to have more knowledge of every element of his/her resources and how everything works together. Finally, the first-line manager needs to be the most skilled person in every individual technical skill to perform his/her job and achieve results.

For example, the digital marketing manager needs to be highly skilled in every digital channel (Google, Facebook, etc.) utilization. The Head of Marketing might have no experience in execution on those channels. But he/she should understand how those works, whether those are suitable or not, etc. Finally, the COO might have a successful sales career who never worked in any type of Digital Marketing. Yet the COO needs to have basic knowledge of digital marketing.

Related Articles:


As per the above discussion and examples, it is clear how the functions and skills vary among the different levels of Managers. But whatever the level is, all managers need to have the three key skills to perform four major functions of management.

3 responses to “3 Key Skills and 4 Major Functions of Management”