Which Background is Preferable for a Manager?

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Human Resources Management > Best Practices > Which Background is Preferable for a Manager?

Which Background is Preferable for a Manager?
Maryam Bidmeshgipour, Student (Other), Malaysia, Member
Selecting candidates for a job is never easy. Certainly when we're talking about managers, considering they are going to play an important role in your organization...
What is the optimal manager profile...Which one do you prefer to hire for your projects?
1. A manager with a technical background (with engineering university degree), or
2. A manager with a management background (who has studied management)?
I'm more toward the administrative managers because they can lead better and assign every one to accomplish the job.

Manager Background Depends on Industry and Company
Elain Lin, HR Consultant, China, Member
It depends on different industries and companies. In my company, the manager with a technical background is preferred. He can lead and manage those technical experts. We invest more to develop their management skills with our own leadership competence.

Managing Systems or People?
Jeannine Stoute, Accountant, United States, Member
If the concentration is managing people, I am in favor of the management background. The organization can fill the technical gaps with technical training.

Background Discipline for a Manager
D P BABU, Strategy Consultant, India, Member
As practitioner of the management discipline one must be equipped with the basic potential to deal with people, policies and systems. For the above, he must be an academician, philosopher, economist and above all humanist.
His objective should aim at conceptualization, creation and addition to human values for better social life.

Manager Must Have Knowledge of INDUSTRY
IRFAN AHMED, Student (MBA), Pakistan, Member
I think along with the management skills, a manager must also have some basic knowledge about the industry in which he/she is working. Because without understanding the technicalities of the industry, the manager can not deal and manage the technical staff and the industry requirements.

Consider the Team as a Whole
Beddoe, Manager, United Kingdom, Member
I would suggest that this is solely down to the structure and skills already in the business.
If the team that the manager has is technically skilled and all they need is a manager to manage the team, pool knowledge, ideas and generally give direction to the team then a good administrative manager is fine.
However if the team need more technical knowledge to guide them in their daily work then a certain level of technical ability would be required.
Some technical expertise would be beneficial but if the team is self motivated, knowledgeable and skilled then even this may not be required as these skills are within the business already.
You need to look at the whole structure of the team and the team roles, not just the type of manager required.

Getting the Best our of Employees
Syed Fahad Sami, Project Manager, Pakistan, Member
A management person acquires and learns the skills to deal effectively and efficiently with human resources during his study.
As a result, he will manage the tasks better and gives more productive results as compared to a technical manager.
He knows the art of taking out the best from employees.

Lower Managers and Higher Managers
Though most of time we feel comfortable to have certain technical expertise to take a manager role, actually in reality people management a management background is highly appreciated.
A technical background might be a good starting point for manager, but we all know leading a bigger group is not same as managing a small group.
Technical expertise fits for lower management functions. leading a small group.
Management and leadership qualities are appropriate for high management functions, leading a bigger group.

Background of Manager
Nasir Cader, Student (Other), Member
Usually a manager should be at the top and a technician on the tap.

Prefered Manager Background Depends on Type of Management
A.J. Heideman, Management Consultant, Netherlands, Member
The first thing a project-manager should have is experience in project management.
A line manager should have product knowledge and affinity with the product.
A people manager should have experience in human resources management.
Most projects include people, products and procedures so the ideal project manager is skilled in these 3 subjects.

SKILLS, Attitude and Openness More Useful Than Background
Jagdish B Acharya, Consultant, India, Premium Member
He should possess a minimum level of both technical and managerial skills.
Besides those 2 things, his communication, listening and motivational skills will count much more in leading in team situations.
@Beddoe appears very balanced because of suggesting the need to consider the team in its entirety. The leader should provide balance and prevent prejudiced or lopsided decisions and for that a minimum of technical as well as managerial knowledge and experience will be useful.
More than that will be a bonus and give the project additional advantage.

Required Background and Skils for Managers
Dilip Khanal, CEO, Nepal, Member
I agree with Jagadish. There is no hard and fast rule. A manager's role and besired background depend upon the nature of project and the composition of the team as Beddoe wrote.
The function of manager is obviously to manage the team for the result. The background required for managing a hospital with highly motivated doctors and managing less skilled and less motivated labor force to work in high-tech framework would surely be different.
However, some managerial aptitude like leading, motivating, delegating, planning, organizing and controlling with an ability to play in a team is highly desirable.

Optimal Manager Background is Both, but this comes at a Cost...
Theodore, Production, Hong Kong, Member
I prefer to hire those who have both a technical background and management background. But of course on the practical side, this kind of employee normally requires more salary and benefits...
If I have to choose one, I will prefer the person with a management background. It is because he / she should have a skills and techniques to communicate, motivate and control their sub-ordinates and manage his/ her organization and department.

Managers are not Required to Be Subject Experts
Bhanwar Singh, Business Consultant, India, Member
People with a technical background are considered to be individualistic, weak in delegation, self obsessed. These things are harmful for a managerial role. I am quoting this on my personal experience only... No offence to exceptions.

Preferable Background for a Manager
OSHUN, GRACE OKAIMA , Lecturer, Nigeria, Member
Ideally, a manager should be trained in the art of managing resources - human and non-human. Therefore a degree in management studies or an MBA coupled with the experience gathered on the job and some mentoring will ensure that a manager makes a success of his job.

Preferred Background for a Manager
M.R. Bos, Manager, Netherlands, Member
In my opinion he/she must be an innovator, interested in people, be an inspirator for others, with a multi-discipline MBA education, a steady career line and most of it a nice person.

Manager Background Requirements
Pedro Guedes Carvalho, Professor, Portugal, Member
I agree that being interested in humans, assertivity and ethics are the basis to lead efficiently people.
But it depends on the field. Technical is not always the main skill, although it helps.
A good manager must study.

Ideal Profile of Manager Depends on Industry Sector
Abdulrahaman Nashiru, Accountant, Nigeria, Member
@Elain Lin : I agree that the industry determines the preferred type of manager.
In an engineering industry, the choice of manager would be technical manager.
In the financial or business development sector, the choice of manager would be manager with management skills.

Background for Managing Director
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
As a retired managing director, I hired someone as my successor with both a sound technical base in my industry (university studies in my industry) and an MBA (master business administration).
You can´t run a business with "pure" technical background or "pure" management background.
The business is a "process" to create value which involves people (customer and employees), money (assets) and sound techniques to convert raw material in a "valuable product to the customer".
in brief, if you will make bread, it is a must to know how to make good bread (the technical side), however you need to know too how run a successful distribution of the fresh bread to thousands sales point (a management side).

Manager Preferable Background: LEADERSHIP Skills
Andrew Cole, Manager, United States, Member
The question and most of the responses miss an important aspect. Managers from either backgrounds can learn the tactical skills and tools they need.
However, their impact on the success of the organization will depend far more on their leadership skills. This is their ability to see and articulate the vision or goals for their team (or organization) and to work with people and motivate them to willingly and enthusiastically work towards a common goal.
Managers who lack tools / "other" skills can still be good leaders (even if they have bad social skills) and can achieve great things, and their teams will accept them and work around their shortcomings.

A Lot of Virtues...
VENKATESWARAN, Teacher, India, Member
After reading all the comments of the contributors, one wonders whether all the cumulative virtues described above by various people could be possible in one manager?
Also I wonder whether one could guarantee success, despite possessing all these virtues devoid of chances for failure due to external factors.

Situation-based Leaders
Avijit Chobey, Manager, India, Member
In projects the leaders are situation-based and are temporary. After the goal of projects is accomplished, the leaders need turn into managers to sustain the accomplishments.
Managers need to have technical, procedure (methods) and people skills. So a person with technical as well as a management background is the best option.

Most Important for a Manager: LEARNING ATTITUDE
Shailesh, Teacher, India, Member
As rightly pointed out by some of them, it depends on the on the stage of life cycle of the industry and the organization. According to me the most important quality for a candidate is the attitude. Attitude to be open to learning and the attitude to be open for change. There is no proven method or theory that a person with a particular background will prove right for the post. Most of the times the decision to recruit depends on the gut feeling of the interviewer.

Preferable Background for a Manager
Kwaku Awuku, Manager, Ghana, Member
Generally, I think you should hire someone for capability, skills, values and behavior.
However the level of the job is an important factor.
A manager of technical people should have more technical skills and less managerial skills while a manager of managers should have more managerial skills.
By managerial skills, I mean visioning/planning, task assignment/ delegating, coaching, appraising etc. At the extreme end is the CEO who should be more managerial than technical.

Leadership Qualities
Shruti Misra, Coach, India, Member
@Andrew Cole : I agree it does not really matter which background one is from unless he/she possess the ability to lead his/her team effectively and efficiently. I have seen many heads who are either from a technical or management background, but have not succeeded due to not having certain characteristics that are required in a leader.
Also, he/she should be open towards the learning process regardless of age and people-oriented.

Hiring Professionals for Projects
M V Ananthakrishnan, Consultant, India, Member
Technical qualifications relevant to the project profile is the PRIMARY requirement. Further, I feel from my experience that the person acquires management and team skills as he progresses in his/her career.

Effective Management Skills are Essential
Arif ur Rehman, Professor, Pakistan, Member
Though to a limited extent the environment decides whether technical skills supersede or follow management skills, but fundamentally management skills are more needed by far. Dealing for, through and with people to obtain optimal outcomes is achieved as the manager performs his functions of managing people effectively in turbulent times and challenging situations – more so HR issues – his role thus blends into the continual growth of an enterprise.

Which Background is Preferable for a Manager
Stephen Haris, Business Consultant, Member
I have seen either work very well and either fail quite spectacularly.
It really depends on what you would like the manager to bring to the organisation and where you would like the manager to take things...

Management versus Leadership versus Technician
Radcliff A Owen, Manager, Australia, Member
The business operating environment should determine the person required.
In calm and steady times, managers who can organise people and resources efficiently and effectively are especially valued.
In times of fierce competition, internal restructuring or technological change, the skills of the leader are needed.
The technician is always needed, but their skills and motivations are assets to be organised by managers and inspired by leaders.
In the military it has always been so. In times of peace, managerial style predominates. In times of conflict, leadership and motivation are essential.
The technicians are the key agents of action and production; they will be organised and inspired; they will innovate and provide competitive advantage. However, technical skills are not those of management and leadership. Whilst technical competency can be an asset to a manager, it is not essential.
How many general managers and CEOs are technically competent at all/most/some/any skills in their companies?

Background and Skills of a Manager Depends on ORGANIZATION TYPE and LEVEL IN HIERARCHY
Satya Narayan, Strategy Consultant, India, Member
Typically management functions are planning, organizing, directing/influencing (to get work done efficiently and effectively) and controlling.
Typically a manager performs all these activities, albeit the exact composition (% time spent) may differ on the type of organization or the level in the hierarchical organization.
I would say typically a manager should have strong HR management skills, commercial skills (assuming we are talking of typical commercial organization not a 'no profit' or NGO or research organization) and technical skills (in this order). In terms of percentage it could be around 40% HR skills (managing people, delegating, motivating, coaching etc), 35% commercial skills and 25% technical skills.

No Subject Specialists for Managerial Positions
Wulf-Dieter Krueger, Teacher, Thailand, Member
@Bhanwar Singh: a good manager needs a good broad general educational background that enables him/her to understand the specialists, as specialists tend to talk past each other. His/her role is to translate specialists' jargon into a language that everybody understands and have the specialists compromise on a solution for proper planning. She/he must be psychologically skilled to arrive at solutions where none of the specialists gets the feeling of having lost, but convey the win-win feeling to all of them.
Example from my area: educational systems are as they are, simply because common believe is that teachers per se will become good managers, once they are promoted into managerial positions. Reality demonstrates that most of the time this is just not true.

Who is the Best Manager
kayode shoyemi, Consultant, Nigeria, Member
In my opinion, depending on the kind of organisation, I believe a manager should have good knowledge of the company's product (which is technical) and at the same time have good people management skills.
Because when there is a situations whereby the subordinates are clamouring for a change or addition/inclusion of some things in the product in order to increase acceptability of the product, the manager should be able to do some analysis on his own before involving a third party in order to make the right decision.

Background of Manager in New Era
J A Hegarty, Business School Marketer, Ireland, Member
Management must be based on principles of openness - collaboration, transparency, sharing, and empowerment. It requires integrity, ethics, understanding..
Hire a manager to manage people, product or process. Of the 3 people is the most important.
We have come from an agrarian base to networked intelligence most without the necessary preparation. Many managers are emigrants to the internet connected society, whereas the kids are in the networked society. Today managers must show that they understand that the cost/risk of staying where we are is greater than the cost of moving to something different.

Background Skill for Manager
Sunita, Manager, India, Member
As an individual grows in his career, he has to only have an overview of technical skills and management skills become more important.
These skills are aptly described in the 10 management roles by Mintzberg.

An Understanding of Both is Needed
dolly Nkabinde
I think a manager should have a strong management background and a business degree.
She should be wiling to learn and understand the technical aspects of the job because it will be difficult for to manage what she does not understand.
If the manager does not understand the technical aspects of the job, she might be be misled by the subordinates and will not manage properly. So both skills are very important.

A Manager with Common Sense is Enough for any Industry
shaikh moheen, Professor, India, Member
Education doesn't matter, what matters is what a manager has experienced.
A manager who has sound knowledge of utilisation of "common sense" is enough for any industry.

A Good Manager Must Be a People Manager with Good Leadership Skills
michel wils, Business Consultant, Belgium, Member
@D P Babu: I agree with you that a manager with very good technical and academic background can still not be a good manager if he doesn't know how to manage people which is part of the leadership skills, with common senses (as Saikh Moheen says) as people are the essence in an organisation.
People need to be recognized and appreciated and have the power for their responsibilities, this will improve performance. When a manager says: this is wrong, without first appreciating what people have done well and then saying what can be improved instead of what is wrong, he will diminish the motivation and the performance. The incompetent manager will then increase control and pressure on his people because he has less results and this will even more diminish the motivation and performance.

Manager's LEVEL is Important to Determine the Appropriate Background
Hafez Abroomandi, Student (MBA), Iran, Member
@Satya Narayan : I agree it depends upon his/her level.
If we need him/her on practical level, I will select who has a better technical background. However who has a management background is better for higher levels.

Skills Managers Should Possess
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
Management decision skills, founded on good education and training, coupled with strong moral values are what a manager should possess in running an enterprise.

No Managing Without Knowledge
R.F.E. Peters, Student (Other), Netherlands, Member
A manager needs to know about what he is managing. For example: a manager can successfully do what he is good at for managing things in a bakery, but if he doesn't know how things work and are/must be done, he can't manage efficiently. A manager with knowledge of products and processes however can better "fine-tune" the organization.
However: a manager without (technical) knowledge can be good if he is willing to learn and maybe spend sometime in production/the technical part of the organization.
Managing from an ivory tower is never good.

Technical or Management Background
Faten Trimech, Accountant, Member
For hiring a manager we should focus our attention on the skills in communication, the capacity to lead pepole, and his ability to manage stress.

Knowledge of the Industry
Locke, Teacher, New Zealand, Member
@IRFAN AHMED : I agree with your view that a knowledge of the industry or practice is essential in order to manage successfully.
I am currently seeing the results of appointing managers who have limited experience of the practice being expected to develop policy and day to day management framework for work they do not understand. There is a huge drop in motivation and productivity, basic administration resourcing has become time consuming and difficult, reimbursements are not processed in a timely manner.
It is becoming increasingly clear that knowledge of the industry is a fundamental and essential need for effective management.

There is no Technical Management
Dorota Powtak, Business Consultant, Poland, Member
Technical education disturbs in building macro strategy and managers with technical background concentrate on too much details. They have a great knowledge on how to operate a technical equipment but not a complete entity where machines are only to support production or service activities.

Background is Irrelevant
Ravi Shankar, Manager, India, Member
I think background does not play a major role. "managing" is a trait which can be developed and polished by anyone irrespective of their background.

Which Background is Preferable for a Manager?
sirelkhatim ibrahim nugud, Coach, Sudan, Member
The manager should not necessarily be knowledgeable of all functions and technical issues.
Instead he should know how to sometimes delegate, sometimes direct, sometimes coach his personnel.

Background for Manager in New Era
J A Hegarty, Business School Marketer, Ireland, Member
@Shaikh Moheen: of course education matters if only to dismiss the notion of "common sense". This is a very scarce commodity and very rare indeed. Develop learning skills and keep up to date through research.
Common sense is not all that common. In a brain washed world, common sense used to lead us to believe that an overdose of education before 25years would keep us flying high for the next 40 years, then our usefulness would be no more. This is neither common nor sense.

A Managers Background
ian cockerham
Your past is less important than where you're going! Still, I believe a manager needs more than a little knowledge of what is being managed. But do you need to have played international football to manage the England team?

Sometimes a Technical Background is Required...
Cesar Babino, Manager, Argentina, Member
You can't always develop a manager with a training in technical aspects, because some of them belong to the career. This happens for example in the food industry where, for certain manager positions, you need a solid technical formation to support your responsibilities.

Human Resource Management
Przemek Wysocki, Project Manager, Poland, Member
All the same. The point is if someone has a predisposition to Human Resource Management. But project management is 75% communication and people management.

Manager Background Requisites
Darryl Lynn Jones
The optimal manager has technical competency with an attitude that is conducive to chameleon-like cognition with productive action. As well, situational leadership skill is crucial in order for the successful manager to ascend the scalar chain and prepare subordinates to be able to perform amid an enriched career path. In short, the ability to accept change, maximize its benefits with current resources, and think innovatively while instilling the aforementioned concepts into the minds of followers depicts the ideal management candidate at READY Works, Inc.

Which Background is Better for Manager?
Ehsan Ramezanpour, Student (University), Iran, Member
I think the most important item beyond technical issues which are different from company to company, for a manager is his or her ability to make relations with staff. This means he or she should do his or her best in motivating staff, to accomplish the acts of organizations, to be a good communicator.

What Background is Preferable for a Manager?
nabeel faraz, Student (MBA), India, Member
I think the job or the domain decides what should be the background of a manager. On the other hand a manger for whichever domain, should be pragmatic, smart, compassionate, strong decision making, resilient, and most importantly a self-taught person.

Managers Background
Jorge Garrido, Director, Mexico, Member
@Elain lin: Managers backround:
1. Needs experience leading people, a manger needs to be a leader (good leader)
2. Understands the business
3. Needs to understand the mission and vision of the organization, so he can drive the company with the principles and values (this has to be universal).
4. Able to put in place the right team organization (so the team knows what, when, where and how to do their activities), leaders are the ones to lead to accomplish goals
5. Establish a culture or keep the existing one. This culture is based on the main values, vision of the entire organization.

Leaders - not Managers!
Dennis Falk Jakobsen, Member
Great question! You want leaders - people who have the potential to become great trainers of their people, who can delegate and not micromanage, who have an genuine interest in others, who are no sissy's - but demanding and result oriented... Etc etc and finally technical savvy in whatever field it may be.
Look for people who can create the greatest output 12 months from hiring - and finally look for integrity above all - then you may get yourself a great leader!

Combine Technical with Managerial Acumen
Richard Ahumibe, Management Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
When it comes to level of importance between "technical" and "managerial" backgrounds, it is rather a case of "both of" than "either or".
Irrespective of the context, neither can substitute for the other. One with technical background will need managerial training to adequately handle a managerial role otherwise he will be thinking "inside" his technical "box".
On the other hand, one with managerial background would need to training in the relevant technical area to understand what is to be managed.
In both cases however, training can be acquired formally through short-term courses or structured in-house lessons or by placing the prospective candidate on an intermediate role to understudy a trained technician or a trained manager prior to assuming the managerial position.

Management Background
Ravi Chandran, Director, United Arab Emirates, Member
I fully agree, leadership skills are learnt over the years with experience, whereas technical skills can be trained more easily.
So I would go with a person who has a management background who can align, inspire and bring the best out of the functional staff.

Correlation Study Needed on Prefered Management Background
Rudy Ric Trabel, HR Consultant, Philippines, Member
A study could be conducted intending to correlate variables such as indicators of success versus factors such as managers with technical background alone and managers with managerial background alone and managers with both technical and managerial background.
The result could be used as baseline to answer the posted question.

Management Skills Education Experience
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
This is an interesting discussion with much to consider with respect to the responses. For my communications business plan that I've written (graphic, web design), I would have to hire a manager with some background in the business, because more than likely they will be involved in the technical and people management aspects among other things.
As a small to mid sized business, there will be considerable multi tasking, maximizing every one's time and talents. The more hands on experience, and knowledge of all aspects of the industry and how they relate to each other, the more inclined I would be to hire the individual. I don't know about nice, however, possessing outstanding EI, people skills, is essential.
Being able to demonstrate the ability to get along and conduct oneself professionally and respectfully towards others is a priority. .

Manager Qualifications
Clarise Morris, HR Consultant, United Arab Emirates, Member
From where I see it, it is necessary that a manager has a working knowledge of all areas that he oversees however, it is not necessary that a manager should be an expert in those areas. Leading/managing a team, providing solutions which many a time is brought out from within the team and inspiring the team to come up with ideas would be some among his prime responsibilities. An MBA alone will not be sufficient to recruit a manager, either the technical qualification or working knowledge/experience in that field is necessary.

Managerial Acumen
DR.VIVEK DIWADKAR., Business Consultant, India, Member
Today global business scenario demands managers with good technical qualifications and management skills being studied / by experience... Plus an attitude to learn, associate and ''manage people'' at every level and under any given or uncertain or extreme circumstances...

Prerequisites for Managers Depends on What you Manage
Managers can manage people, project or a product.
The required amount of technical knowledge will be bigger if one has to manage a product or project, and depends also on the industry.

Depends on the Role That the Manager is Supposed to Play
Michael Chin, Business Consultant, Singapore, Member
There are multiple levels of the organisation for a manager. At the highest level, leadership is important. The ability to manage details is important for front-line managers.
So in a lot of situations, it is combination of these 2 traits. It is not one or the other. It is combination of at least these or more traits.

Preferable Selection Measures
Feraidoon Bakhtiari, CxO / Board, Iran, Member
Promotion from within the company should be a basic policy of the company to promote its human resources. Where there are interested qualified people, they should receive preference.
As the company grows, this growth creates more and more opportunities for promotion, particularly in the areas of supervisory, technical and managerial responsibilities.
Generally speaking, there are 2 x 2 options of fulfilling supervisory and management positions:
1. Promotion from within the company.
2. Hire from outside the company.
A. Wait until the actual need is at hand, then choose.
B. Foresee the need, choose the right candidates carefully and deliberately.

It is All About Team Integration
maen alhusseini, Manager, Syria, Member
Leadership skills are required wherever you go along the hierarchy.
However, the right level of mastery varies according to the project scope of work and the team's technically knowledge. If the team has little technical knowledge and the project scope is narrow, a technical manager would be preferred.
On the other hand, if the team has strong technical knowledge and the project scope is wide, a manager with strong leadership skills is recommended.

Re: Which Background is Preferable for a Manager
Richard Ahumibe, Management Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
Prevalence of misleading human resources (HR) management paradigms is the commonest underlying cause of business failures in contemporary times next to lack of innovation. Some contributions here are premised on the opinion that “management” is all about people handling, while “technical” is all about subject matter expertise.
The missing points in these propositions are that in addition to people, management also coordinate processes, resources, and communication.
Just as much, technical cannot successfully add value in isolation - it requires good interpersonal skills to be able to translate knowledge to output.

Leadership more important than Skills
Dr Vasundhara Padmanabhan, Manager, India, Member
According to me, in educational institutions academic leadership is more important than the managerial skills, which one acquires anyhow with experience. Without academic leadership, optimal achievement of the objectives of the course will not be possible. The faculty and the administrative staff take such a leader's instructions seriously as they are aware that the leader knows what he wants.

Preferable Background for a New Manager
adeboye,clement, Manager, Nigeria, Member
A manager should have a minimum relevant experience and a track record of achieved results.
The employer should be able to identify competence and character during interview to see if he or she is trainable.

Which Background is Preferable for a Manager?
Vusal Aliyev
When I studied economics at university, my teacher on technology sciences used to say "Technologists may survive with 30% knowledge on economics, but economists must have 70% knowledge about technology". This could apply to managers as well.

Even if You Have Both: Technical and Administrative...
Osama Kamal, Management Consultant, Egypt, Member
@Andrew Cole : I agree that although it seems the best situation to have both skills, technical and managerial, it is essential to also have leadership skills to survive.
A manager equipped with both qualities, technical and admin., can improve the quality of processes, negotiate with colleagues.
But only a leader can rescue the ship when there are difficulties and hard winds.
Human qualities are important in non-natural / exceptional circumstances of the business. Occasionally in any business human qualities are exposed to exams and success, or failure...

Need Proper Mix with Positive Vision Towards All Stake Holders
Dr. Vishal Dilip Chavan, Professor, India, Member
As far as my industry experience and teaching experience, I must say any manager needs a proper mix of both. Any house wife knowing good cooking (technical expertise) can't satisfy stakeholders of family, if she's unable to manage other resources properly (basic kitchen management and monetary/finance management).
Likewise, managers should have a clear understanding about key technical concepts related to his/her department or profile with an understanding of how it affects other internal and external stakeholders.

Consider the Level of the Manager
Luis, Manager, China, Member
In an organization hierarchy, normally lower level managers are required to have industry background and knowledge, while senior managers should focus more on people management.
In this case, I would suggest hiring a technical background candidate, assuming this position is a low level management role.

The Best Management Type? The Teamplayer
Gerald Jett, United States, Member
I feel the best managers are those that are willing to help to get the job done, no matter what it takes. Although it is nice to have a manager with technical skills and people skills, the best managers will be willing to learn the business or product, willing to admit if they are unsure of something, and utilize all their resources to discover the answer.
Furthermore, a manager must be willing to sweep the floor, pick up trash, or mow the grass if that is what it takes to keep the operation running. Any job must consist of teamwork and if managers consistently show they are part of the team, they will earn respect.
This respect will in turn develop into increased efficiency for the team as a whole. Therefore, indeterminate of the manager’s background, any manager must be a team player, who is willing to go beyond being just a manager.

Scoring and Comparing
Juan Perez Eras
A solution could be to score management and technical skills (from 1 to 5). Then you compare the candidate's scores and the company's expectations. This is useful to avoid full managers pretending to be technicians and vice versa.

Selecting Managers to Be in the Firm
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
@Ravi Shankar: there is only some truth to your statement but what if you need a very long time to develop one without any background education and training at all?

Good Management Skills are Rare
Olsson, Sweden, Member
Both skills can be taught to a certain level and the level of knowledge and mix depends on the wanted output.
However my experience tells me that good, solid, practical and productive management skills are scarce and few people are born with it.
So my advise is to look for people that have a technical knowledge, show a liking for leadership and at are liked by their colleagues, even though from time to time they'll create conflicts.

Managerial Competence Plus Technical Background for the Industry at Hand
Srikumar Varma, India, Member
The world of business today is undergoing fast changes in all dimensions and it is imperative for managers to be a specialist in the area related to their industry.
An MBA is all right, but future managers ought to have either a technical background or they must be trained by the industry imparting technological knowledge in that particular area.
For instance, an MBA with some degree of technical specialization like aviation, it, automobile, space research, medical fields, steel manufacturing, nuclear, shipping and so on.
In the future, it will be quite difficult for generalized managers to cope with the particular industry's rapid rate of specialization without a technical degree or some kind of comprehensive in house training.
Each industry has its own peculiar problems and solutions that cannot be superficially tackled, without making the ground staff aware and the confidence that a manager is talking with a relevant technical base related to the problems.

Complete Background of a Project Manager
Tesfu, Other, Member
I agree that selecting the right person for any senior position is not an easy task.
For a project manager (PM) critical success factors are, among other things, fulfilllment of stakeholders expections, compeletion of the project in time, efficient use of resources.
Fore this we can now agree that PM should be equipped with the following essential skills:
- Technical skills,
- Leadership skills,
- Human Resources Management Skills,
- Communication skills,
- Negotiation skills,
- Marketting skills,
- Financial skills (budget and cost), and
- Planning skills (scheduling).

Systemic Interdisciplinary Background with Relational Profile
Wolf, Project Manager, Germany, Member
In order to facilitate teamwork and empower staff I would prefer a relational leader. These are seldom found in engineering. But also not often in management.
For administrative tasks I would assign a controller.
For developing tasks I would look for an interdisciplinary profile with a background in any kind of systems science, complexity science or directly in the humanities.

Effective Manager Includes Fixed and Flexible Traits
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
@Tesfu: this is a very comprehensive listing that could apply to all sectors...

Why Reduce Complexity?
Ulrich Schweiker, Director, Germany, Member
It is easy to agree on most comments here, since they all try to capture aspects of complexity.
Whatever aspect you mention, there are plenty examples of other aspects that may be more important in a particuclar situation.
That is why I am convinced that "HR" as a competence has the difficult task to consider the elements of the given situation and make a sound judgement. The elements to be considered may be derived from many disciplines (religion, languages-dialects, local-regional-national aspects, products-related, functional, people-of-various-backgrounds, educational, areas of expertise, age, gender, life-cycle of the business, stage of the company, post merger, demerger, joint ventures, subcultural fit, etc.).
I would never make general statements, since I have seen management experts failing due to lack of understanding of technical issues, technical experts failing due to lack of understanding involved people, and hybrids failing due to the wrong timing... And so on.. I love complexity!

No More Managers, There are Already Leaders in the Organisation
J A Hegarty, Business School Marketer, Ireland, Member
@D P Babu: every employee has the potential to become the manager. If "empowerment" is carried to its logical conclusion, we need to trust employees to manage their own task in the first instance, and encourage them through education and training to expand their role in the organisation.
An organisation with trust and commitment to its employees is an organisation without limits - one in which every individual can lead.

Align Leadership Practices with Management Disciplines
Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States, Member
Wow, this topic sure got a lot of comments.
My experience has been as a general rule that organizations cannot survive by trying to use technical people in management positions.
They tend to focus on details, not processes and people.
There is even trouble with management disciplines when there is no "people" oriented leadership skills aligned within the organizations structure.
Leadership is an "art". It takes vision, empathy and true character to establish organizational influence and trust.
By the way, I consider this issue critical for organizational survival.

Focusing on the Discussion
Juan Perez Eras
@Bill Boynton: the issue established by Maryam is to select a manager between two extremes: a fully management-oriented person or a person completely technical. She prefers someone with a lot of management background and it's possible that functions needed by the organization determine this preference, but in companies that use the majority of technical knowledge, that manager could be overwhelmed and could need to much time to learn company's know how.

Good Resume in Management and Having Knowledge of Industry
HABIB MOSTAFIZI, HR Consultant, Iran, Member
Management is art and science. So, studying management is not enough for being a good manager and leading some people.
On the other hand, having knowledge of industry even without sufficient experience shall be proper facing employees.
Anyhow, I think having a good administrative management resume is preferred for all industries and companies and I agree with Maryam.

The Selection of Managers
ian cockerham
I am coming round to the view that what an engineer, teacher, bus driver, nurse, etc needs on first promotion into management, is good management training.
The greater the expectation of good management, the more management training, including post-graduate management degrees, should be given.
Perhaps management degrees should ALL be post-graduate, and some industrial or vocational experience a pre-requisite for the course.
Coaching is different, a different skill entirely, and I do not think that you have to be able to do a job before you can coach a workforce. I am thinking of life coaches, for example, who can coach in all fields - rather like inspirational speakers can talk to anyone and any job.

Which Hand Would you like to Have: Left or Right?
Sudheendra, Consultant, India, Member
It is like asking which hand (or eye) is preferred: left or right? There are no choices here as both are needed for effective functioning. Both technical(engineering) skills and leadership skills make an effective manager.
All leaders have proven themselves as effective managers. But all managers aer not hailed as effective leaders.

Which Wheel on the Car is the More Important
J A Hegarty, Business School Marketer, Ireland, Member
@Sudheendra: indeed I often ask my students which wheel on a car is the most important? Each is as necessary as the other, therefore collaboration is preferable to competition, teamwork to individualism, all topped off with recognition.

Technical Knowledge or Managerial Skills
VENKATESWARAN, Teacher, India, Member
@Dr Vasundhara Padmanabhan : why do you exclude and differentiate academic leadership from managerial skills?
In fact, all leadership qualities encompass managerial qualities as well. If a person is not able to manage, he does not become a leader at all. Right?

One Who Can Learn the Missing Aspects
Jagdish B Acharya, Consultant, India, Premium Member
Business needs vary from case to case. Both technical as well as administrative knowledge are essential for managers.
What is required is a quick learning ability to understand the missing knowledge and take the right decisions on time.
A manager who cannot understand technical aspects at all is forced to follow gut sense or some other heuristic methods for decisions, or delay the decision, and that may be harmful for the organization.

It Depends on the Department
ichsan widyantoro, Student (University), Indonesia, Member
In my opinion, it depends on the department that he leads. I think a manager with a technical background is recommended if we are dealing with an operational or technical department. He will make better decisions because he posseses experience in that area.
However, in general a person which has a management background is more effective than the others because he used to managing people.

Management Leadership and Technical Ability
ian cockerham
@ichsan widyantoro: watching small children, it is clear that some are leaders, some are managers, some are both and many have specific skill areas in which they seem to make best progress.
Nevertheless I would like any manager who worked with me to have a very good idea of the technical expectations required of the team being managed. For this reason I tend to mistrust any view that a person can begin from a management perspective - even Jose Mourinho did play some football before beginning a career in coaching, eventually leading to some plum management positions.
Now it might be applicable to take such a person and ask him, say, to manage a team of butchers or bakers, or lead a group of software engineers, as he 'knows' management. But he did not begin his career managing a team of people, he started as a footballer of pretty good, but not star, quality.
I am saying that we need to focus on what is being done before we seek to 'lead' the process.

Management is in Between Managers and Leaders
FAYEZ, Management Consultant, Saudi Arabia, Member
Managers are preferred when they understand the company/owners vision and mission and have the ability to successfully translate the company objectives via the operation/production and people /systems.

Which Background is Suitable for a Manager?
Yeshwant Moodliar, Consultant, India, Member
The first consideration should be what is the company's profile and in which industry they are operating?
If this company is predominently engaged in production and sales of "engineering products" then the engineering qualifications and background is essential. However, if the firm is engaded in "commercial activity" then his management qualifications will be the key asset to look for. Because in the commercial activity he will be dealing with promotion, pricing, and packaging/delivery which do not require an engineering or technical background. Having said this, if we have a candidate with a combination of both then he will be our candidate.

Experience and Emotional Intelligence
I agree that knowledge of the industry is often important.
But much also depends on the industry and the level the manager is at (low - middle or senior) as each level requires a different skill set. It is easy to hire the right technical expert, but without leadership skills a senior level manager is not able to manage a company successfully.
For this I would say that either background is OK, but it is the practical experience (post graduation) and emotional intelligence the manager brings to the table that will determine his/her ultimate success as a manager/leader in an organization.

Vision and Mission Critical to Success of Business Endeavor
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
@Fayez: I believe you "hit the nail on the head" as the saying goes lol... Although everyone's comments, observations, and experience within this discussion are extremely relevant and useful, as you presented it, it's most accurately: the foundation for managers [and employees at all levels] must be to "understand the company/owners vision and mission and have the ability to successfully translate the company objectives via the operation/production and people/systems." Katie.

The Optimal Background for a Manager depends on the Management Level
Jesper Jensen, Student (MBA), United States, Member
To choose between a future manager with either a technical or management training background you first have to understand the level of management that is required.
If it is a low level and more of a day to day job of managing technical personnel without any long term focus, strategic planning or p/l management then go with the technical background, but as soon as there are expectations and impact of the management position towards the overall goal of the firm then go with someone who has the managerial training.
The management training involves not only the ability to work with personnel who are technical more qualified, but trains the individual to be a resource manager and utilize the individual as a resource along the lines as all other resources utilized by the company.
Furthermore, such management background will ensure the person can maintain a long term focus on the individual tasks and ensure that short term gains are replaced with long term benefits.

Soft and Hard Management Background
Thabo Motsoasele, Project Manager, South Africa, Member
A balance of soft and hard skills is preferable, taking into account the role the individual is employed for. But both the technical and the managerial role require that one understands and lives the culture, values and goals of the employing organisation.

Coaching New Managers
Juan Perez Eras
Another solution to solve Maryam's dichotomy is to use coaching, selecting a person amongst some engineers inside the company that have technical and management skills, and could be candidates for that job. During coaching, leadership and management abilities could be proved and finally the result is a correct person for the intended position in the organization.
It's important to remember that engineers are educated to solve problems with their abilities and available resources so, it's possible that engineers could have leadership to get company's gaols. I think that managerial knowledge could be acquired during their careers.

Hiring New Managers-main Skills?
Bruno Van Immerseel, Manager, Netherlands, Member
The choice of manager is depending on what you want to achieve. All depends on the position and what you expect from the manager to be accomplished. Of course often he might need technical skills, often he might need managerial skills and in case it is a real line manager he would preferably also need people management skills. Managers do not always need all these skills together but are directed to 2 or 3 core skills they have.
In my opinion having people skills is the most important a manager should need. People are company's most important capital, so it is above all important that he can manage the people, build the team, understand the strengths and weaknesses, focuses on development, make a happy environment to work in and then focus on the results.

Subject: Hiring New Managers Traits & Capabilities
J A Hegarty, Business School Marketer, Ireland, Member
Companies often find integrating social responsibility initiatives like integrity, ethics, responsibility, initiative, into their hiring plans can help make inroads into new and exciting opportunities and positive outcomes. Often companies don't understand these qualities.

Knowledge is a Key Skill for a Manager!
J A Hegarty, Business School Marketer, Ireland, Member
Most of this discussion is concerned with knowledge. When many companies must innovate or die, their ability to learn, adapt, and change becomes a core competency for survival. Most seek more knowledge through training,education, and career development. Every business is a knowledge business; every worker is a knowledge worker.
Knowledge is a social process. That means no one person can take responsibility for collective knowledge, but knowledge resides in the individual. A concern about knowledge sharing emphasizes communication flow and documentation. A focus on knowledge competencies leads to seeking more effective ways to create, adapt, and apply knowledge.

A Manager Must Be Broad
Robert Nyarko, Strategy Consultant, Ghana, Member
To be a good manager, one should acquire skills and know-how from different disciplines during his working career to enable him be on top of issues in the various departments under him. A manager who is biased to a single discipline will always be undermined by his heads of departments.

Interdisciplinary and Relational Approach to Management
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
@Wolf: Hello - I really applaud your suggestions - relational is key - developing strong relationships are key. That is interesting that you would include humanities within a interdisciplinary development management style. I had a strong focus on humanities as an undergraduate - including honors program work - and see the value in this area of study. Would like to delve deeper into its relationship with development and research, practical application. Thank you.

Promotions are Rarely Planned and Executed
Feraidoon Bakhtiari, CxO / Board, Iran, Member
You may know where you are standing and heading, but most employees do not not where they are now and what their next positions might be.
Promotions are rarely planned and executed in organizations.
They depend on background, experience, career path, evaluation and assessment made on skills / knowledge and behaviour of the target person or personnel and above all the support one might have to qualify him / her as the nominee for the position.
Organizations are like live organs requiring the right kind of treatment. They need fresh air of innovation and creation as well as the clean energy of manpower to harmonize collective efforts toward well-defined goals and objectives.
They also need qualified managers and leaders to help people perform and practice roles and responsibilities as described in their job profiles.

Managers with Technical Background Require More People Skills
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
@Elain Lin: I agree with what you said. Management is about a relationship with people that are working on tasks. People with a technical background are often more exact and require more skills to be effective in relating to people who are dependent on them.

It Depends on the Requirements of a Company
siddheshwar vitthal lingdale, Student (MBA), India, Member
Yes, it's dependent on the requirements of an organization. If it's a manufacturing company it probably requires a person who has a technical background and managerial skills. They might prefer any MBA production candidate for the job at hand.

It Depends on the Nature of the Company
Kidist Yami, Accountant, Ethiopia, Member
I share the idea of @Elain Lin and @A.J. Heideman. It depends on the industry or the nature of the company.
Most of the time manufacturing companies prefer a manager with a technical background. But for non-technical companies not only management graduates but also any graduate from business and economics or engineering graduate can be a manager.
The only requirements to be a manager in these environments are that the person should have experience in the sector and should be familiar with management / leadership skills.

Round Peg in Round Hole
OSHUN, GRACE OKAIMA , Lecturer, Nigeria, Member
Would anyone consider employing a butcher to perform the duties of a surgeon? A person with a management background will definitely perform the job for which he has been trained better than anyone else.

A Manager should be both an Artist and a Scientist
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
The first thing that a manager should do is to relate with people and doing this is an "ART".
Thereafter, he applies his technical background or "SCIENCE" to inspire and motivate people through either coaching or mentoring to perform their respective tasks efficiently.
It is best to have a manager who understands that to do the job of a manager involves both Art and Science.

No Doubt Management is a Social Science Having Linkages with Other Sciences
D P BABU, Strategy Consultant, India, Member
Of course, management should be regarded as a social science displine. However one should know that management originates from a purpose embodying framework of resources, norms and practices to be administered to achieve the purpose by application of management principles.
Unless management principles are scientifically devised they may lack all round acceptance. Anyone who wishes to be a manager needs to look into the implication of science from which the natural principles of justice, human values and democratic practices are devised.

Knowledge, Combined with Experience
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
I would prefer to select a manager who is knowledgeable about the industry, and who has the good judgement to make solid decisions. They should have experience, and be honest about what they have learned over the years.

Managers must be Sensible to their Environment
D P BABU, Strategy Consultant, India, Member
Managers must be Sensible to their Environment. This sensibility enables them to learn from experiences which can improve their knowledge level in the pursuit of good decision making.

Both Backgrounds are Useful. The Best Mix Depends on the Job and Situation
Dilip Khanal, CEO, Nepal, Member
As the participants shared, both capabilities are necessary.
Each management position requires some degree of technical knowledge. It does not mean that the manager should be a technical expert, but should have at least basic knowledge on what s/he is going to manage. Otherwise, the manager would be constrained while making important decisions. Personally, I have a management background. But, I had to establish a quality testing laboratory and I chose to hire technically sound people. But, in that course, I had to learn many things on chemistry, reliability of testing, certification, selection of appropriate machine and so on. I could do all these with the help of my technically sound managers. Once I had to organize a trade fair for which I chose a management background person with adequate experience and network to handle the job.
The conclusion is, as shared by almost all participants, it depends upon the job and the situation.

Technical versus Managerial Background
Dr. Alan Williams, Professor, Thailand, Member
Why just two choices? Surely there is a different answer case by case. Although there must be many cases where both areas of capability are needed. In some cases it's critical that the manager is also a technical expert, in other cases the manager is expected to be focused on managerial work. Always go case by case.

A Manager Should be Multi-Tasking
OSHUN, GRACE OKAIMA , Lecturer, Nigeria, Member
Every manager should be multi-tasking, so it should not be a matter of this or that. In an engineering firm, a manager with an engineering background could be hired and sent for management training. That will make him an allrounder with technical and managerial skills.

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