Are Management Skills Behavioural?

According to Whetten, D & Cameron, K (p8 pp1) management skills are in fact behavioural. They are not personality attributes or stylistic tendencies. Management skills consist of identifiable sets of actions that individuals perform and that lead to certain outcomes. Skills can be observed by others, unlike attributes that are purely mental or are embedded in personality. Whereas people with different styles and personalities may apply the skills differently, there are, nevertheless, a core set of observable attributes in effective skill performance that are common across a range of individual differences.

Second management skills are controllable. The performance of these behaviours is under the control of the individual. Skills can be consciously demonstrated, practiced, improved or restrained by individuals themselves.

Third management skills are developable. Performance can improve. Unlike IQ or certain personality or temperament attributes that remain relatively constant throughout life, individuals can improve their competency in skill performance through practise and feedback.

Fourth, management skills are interrelated and overlapping.

Fifth management skills are sometimes contradictory or paradoxical.

Karpin argues that in today’s global and ever changing market where outsourcing and downsizing are becoming more come, uncertainty regarding long term employment has increased trust issues between employees and management. This is turn has impacted on the employees loyalty to the business. Karpin advocates that personal development is an honourable course of action that benefits both boss and worker, the worker gains skills which make the individual employable and the organisation gains the loyalty of the individual.

In support of Karpin’s believe that an organisation should develop its employees noted in IBM (Executive Summary) that the most important factor in the success of developing future leaders is the willingness of the entire organisation to take responsibility for selecting individuals and providing them with the appropriate guidance and experiences. While Human Resources function can play a major role in developing critical and creative pathways that allow individuals to advance their careers, only the organisation as a whole can commit the resources and provide the supportive culture needed to make leadership development truly successful.

(Burns p 528 pp2) states that there is incredible variety and complexity of the role of the people who hold the title manager. The title is applied to people in a wide range of hierarchical levels and functional specialisms.

(Burns p 534 pp1) the worst managers may not be those who make poor choices, it may be those who fail to recognise that there are no choices to be made.

Noe,. RA (2008 p 406,pp2) career development is important for companies to create and sustain a continous learning environment. Study conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers suggests that companies that are successful at managing the employee growth that accompanies business expansion and increased demand for their prodc us and services focus on recruitment, career development, culture orientation and communications. These companies emphasize that employees are responsible for career management. But they also provide company resources that support careers, such as career counsellors, development opportunities, mentoring and managerial training in how to coach employees.

Noe et al states that project careers are a series of projects that may not be in the same company. These changes are altering the career concept and increasing the importance of career management from both the employee’s and the company’s perspective.
Career management is becoming more important also because the workplace is an area in which social equality, workplace diversity and personal liberation can be achieved.

Noe et al also recognises that some employees choose to frequently change jobs and careers for personal interest or to avoid becoming obsolete or expendable by specialising in one job as technology, the economy or business changes.

Employees are looking at opportunities to develop by moving between jobs, transferring their skills to a diverse range of roles to build up their employability.

Noe et al (p 407 pp 2) It is important to recognize that employees motivation to attend training programs, the outcomes they expect to gain from attendance, their choice of programs and how and what they need to know have been affected by changes in the concept of a career

Noe et al Career management is not something companies do for employees. Rather employees have to take the iniatitive to manage their careers by identifying the type of work they want, their long term work interests and the skills they would like to develop.

Have caused more emphasis to be placed on using job experiences and relationships for learning rather than formal training courses and seminars.

From a company’s perspective, the failure to motivate employees to plan their careers can result in a shortage of employees to fill open positions, in lower employee commitment and in inappropriate use of monies allocated for training and development programs.

Employees who have high career resilience are able to respond to obstacles in the work environment and adapt to unexpected events. They are dedicated to continuous learning, they are willing to develop new ways to use their skills, they take responsibility for career management and they are committed to the company’s success.

Career motivation is positively influenced by the extent to which companies provide opportunities for achievement, encouragement for development and information about career opportunities.

Noe et al A protean career is based on self direction with the goal of psychological success in one’s work. Protean employees take major responsibility for managing their career.

A psychological contract is the expectations that employers and employees have about each other. Traditionally the psychological contract emphasised that the company would provide continued employment and advancement opportunities if the employees remained with the company and maintained a high level of job performance. Pay increases and status were linked directly to promotions(ie vertical movements)

Due to organisational restructures which have seen many of the previous hierachical levels in organisations diminish, as well as the changing global environment, the psychological contract has changed. A majority of companies can no longer guarantee job security, companies can offer employees opportunities to attend training programs and participate in work experiences that can increase their employability with their current and future employees. (Noe et al)

The goal of the protean career is psychological success. Psychological success is the feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes from achieving life goals that are not limited to achievements at work.

Managers need to also understand the diversity of its workforce and their different ways in approaching their careers. For example Gen Xers are loyal to their own skills and they change jobs to develop them.

An important difference between the traditional career and the protean career is the need for the employees to be motivated and able to learn rather than to rely on a static knowledge base.

The types of knowledge that an employee must possess to be successful have changed. Although knowing how remains important, employees need to know why and know whom.

Managers play a key role in the career management process. To help employees deal with career issues, managers need to be effective in for roles, coach, appraiser, advisor and referral agent. Companies are responsible for providing employees with the resources needed to be successful in career planning. These resources included specific programs as well as processes for career management.

For career management to be successful, employees, managers and the company must all be actively involved (Noe et al p430,pp1)

However as career security shifts from employment to employability employees may view that organisation as a resource through which they may attain individual career goals. (Armstrong p473)

One of the key challenges for organisations is to identify how to deliver cost-effective career development for all employees. Best practise suggests a career coaching partnership model between the individual employee and his or her line manager as the critical means by which effective career development can be offered to all staff, not just a select few.

Formal mentoring schemes link experienced individuals with graduates or high potential staff. These relationships are encouraged in some organisations to support career development and planning.

When an employee and line manager recognise the shared responsibility for documenting career goals and development strategies, a partnership is developed that is most powerfully experienced through the medium of a quality career discussion.

Training to support line managers as career coach? Imperative to ensure that career management processes work. The line manager is ideally placed to facilitate career discussions because their position enables them to see the organisational perspective as well as the individuals situation.

An effective career coach will provide information about possibilities but avoid telling direct reports what career decisions they should make. Individual career self – reliance is facilitated when individuals own their own behaviour and decisions.

Traditionally organisations was principally seen as being responsible for managing the career development of employees by providing them with formal training, orchestrating their work assignments and planning their career progression. As a result, individuals are conceived as passive recipients in this process as they are dependent on opportunities provided by their firms and must trust organisations will consider their interests when making decisions that will affect their careers. (Donohue R)

A major shortcoming of the traditional theories of career is that they fail to take into account the significant changes that have occurred in the environment. (Donohue R)

Established views of organisation career development have tended to construe the organisation’s requirement as the central element in the process and the employee’s needs as secondary. However from the protean perspective the individual is seen as figural and the organisation merely provides the context or medium in which to pursue ones personal aspirations. This shifts the onus of responsibility for career development from the organisation to the individual.

Unfortunately it is in organisations that focus employee training and development most obsessively on the organisations needs and goals that employees are most likely to find that their own career development needs are neglected. An alternative view is that employee development should be aimed at cultivating career resilience. Development opportunities that take a more lateral view reducing internal boundaries to the acquisition of new skills and assisting employees to find opportunities to develop skills that are transferable outside the organisation, are paradoxically more likely to encourage loyalty among employees who can see that their longer term needs are being looked after.


Career management for employees can be a critical tool for organisations, striving to gain that competitive advantage in the current global market. However, it is no longer the sole responsibility of the organisation to manage an employee’s career, in today’s business environment it is a shared responsibility between the employee and employer that will ensure for the career management process to be successful.