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Imperatives Of Developing Administrative Skills Through Team Work

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“The difference between a good administrator and a bad one is about five heartbeats. Good administrators make immediate choices…settles disputes, motivates staff and helps members achieve goals. A bad administrator, on the other hand, hesitates, diddles around, and asks for committees, for research and reports. He is more concerned with reports than with decisions. He wants the hard record which he can display as an excuse for his errors. They never lie about what they’ve done if their verbal orders cause problems, and they surround themselves with people able to act wisely on the basis of verbal orders. Often, the most important piece of information is that something has gone wrong. Bad administrators hide their mistakes until it’s too late to make corrections.”-- Frank Herbert

  1. CONCEPT OF ADMINISTRATION

Administration deals with gathering, processing, and communicating information. Practically, everybody working for an organization participates in the administrative activities. Even those who do not hold any managerial position participate when receiving written or oral instructions and reporting back on the outcome of their work. Those who have managerial positions complete much more administrative activities, for example, they are engaged in planning of various processes, and assigning resources to various do it in the real world activities. The goal of administration is to ensure smooth running of the organization’s processes by coordinating people participating in the processes, and providing them with information needed for accomplishing organizational goals.

The administration is regulated by rules and operational guidelines and procedures contained in the PUBLIC SERVICE RULES. These rules prescribe or recommend who should be doing what throughout the entire gamut of processes in tandem with the rules. In administration, the needs of human beings come first before money, machines, materials and time. An effective administrator is therefore a person who motivates the workers, identifies with their personal needs, builds harmonious relationship with them, identify with their informal needs and show concern for workers’ welfare, ILO: 2001).

  1. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

This theory posits that human beings are at the centre of administration. Unlike the scientific management theory, human beings are not as machines but as individuals with differing person-social challenges, backgrounds, ideas and psychological motivations, any dynamic group behaviour is capable of affecting performances. The core of the theory is that it is the psychological phenomenon that produces an improvement in human behavior or performance as a result of increased attention from superiors, clients or colleagues.

Hawthorne effect. Elton Mayo - father of the Human Relations Movement and his experiment showed that humans are the solar plexus in public administration but also in people’s management in organizations. The Hawthorne experiment set out to find the relationship between the work conditions, the general fatigue and resulting monotony in the employees. It was believed that the relationship can be gauged by studying the effect of temperature, humidity lighting and hours of sleep. Hawthorne effect is a psychological phenomenon that produces an improvement in human behavior or performance as a result of increased attention from superiors, clients or colleagues.

  1. THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS

Most people view administration as a process. Luther Gulick in his Theory of Administration posed a question rhetorically "What is the work of the chief executive? What does he do?" POSDCORB is the answer, "designed to call attention to the various functional elements of the work of a chief executive because 'administration' and 'management' have lost all specific content."

According to Gulick's the elements of POSDCORB implies the follows:

  • Planning, that is working out in broad outline the things that need to be done and the methods for doing them to accomplish the purpose set for the enterprise;

  • Organizing, that is the establishment of the formal structure of authority through which work sub-divisions are arranged, defined, and coordinated for the defined objective;

  • Staffing, that is the whole personnel function of bringing in and training the staff and maintaining favorable conditions of work;

  • Directing, that is the continuous task of making decisions and embodying them in specific and general orders and instructions and serving as the leader of the enterprise;

  • Co-coordinating, that is the all-important duty of interrelating the various parts of the work;

  • Reporting, that is keeping those to whom the executive is responsible informed as to what is going on, which thus includes keeping himself and his subordinates informed through records, research, and inspection;

  • Budgeting, with all that goes with budgeting in the form of planning, accounting and control.

Luther Gullick and Lyndall Urwick note that organization of specialized workers can be done in four ways namely by: purpose, process, material and place

  • By the purpose the workers are serving, such as furnishing water, providing education, or controlling crime. Gulick lists these in his organizational tables as vertical organizations.

  • By the process the workers are using, such as engineering, doctoring, lawyering, or statistics. Gulick lists these in his organizational tables as horizontal organizations.

  • By the clientelle or material or the persons or things being dealt with, such as immigrants, veterans, forests, mines, or parks in government; or such as a department store's furniture department, clothing department, hardware department, or shoe department in the private sector.
  • By the place where the workers do their work.

They reduced the elements of administration to POCCCC, which stands for:

  • Planning - examining the future and drawing up plans of actions

  • Organizing - building up the structure (labor and material) of the undertaking

  • Command - maintaining activity among the personnel

  • Co-ordination - unifying and harmonizing activities and efforts

  • Control - seeing that everything occurs in conformity with policies and practices
  1. SKILLS OF AN EFFECTIVE ADMINISTRATOR

Manzoor, (2012) posits that effective administration depends on three basic developable skills namely technical, human and conceptual skills. Although training can sharpen these skills, every administrative process requires these three skills sets. The skills sets are necessary for individuals to perform jobs, specific tasks and assignments. These three skills enable the administrator to direct the activities of other persons, undertake the responsibility for achieving certain objectives through these efforts with a view to achieving organizational goals. The skills are inter-related.

  1. Technical skill: Technical skill implies an understanding of, and proficiency in, a specific kind of activity, particularly one involving methods, processes, procedures, or techniques. Technical skill involves specialized knowledge, analytical ability within that specialty, and ease in the use of the tools and techniques of the specific discipline. Most of our vocational and on-the-job training programs are largely concerned with developing this specialized technical skill.

  1. Human skill: Human skill is the executive’s ability to work effectively as a group member and to build cooperative effort within the team he leads. Human skill is primarily concerned with working with people. A good administrator demonstrates this in terms of how he/she recognizes his superiors, equals, and subordinates, and in the way he behaves. A person who is good at human skills understands his attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs about other individuals and groups; he is able to see the usefulness and limitations of these feelings. He is equally skillful in communicating to others, in their own contexts, what he means by his behavior. He is sufficiently sensitive to the needs and motivation of others in his organization.

  1. Conceptual skill: Conceptual skill involves the ability to see the enterprise as a whole; it includes recognizing the functional relationship of the various units of the organization. It extends to seeing the relationship of the business to the industry, the community, and the political, social, and economic forces of the nation as a whole. ( SWOT & PEST ANALYSIS)

Administrative decisions are made depending on conceptual skills. For example, for a company to change its line of business from retail to wholesale trade, the administrator might have considered the demography, goods in high demand, locational factors, product type, capital outlay, attitude of buyers, creativity etc. The administrator’s conceptual skill is the unifying, coordinating ingredient of the administrative process, and of undeniable over-all importance. Technical skills are required at the lower level while human and conceptual skills are needed at the higher level.

  1. CORE SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES OF ADMINISTRATION

The successful administrative professional has a wide variety of skills, characteristics and qualities, nine of which stand out. The areas of core competencies include:

1. Adaptability

  • Demonstrates flexibility in the face of change
  • Projects a positive demeanor regardless of changes in working conditions
  • Shows the ability to manage multiple conflicting priorities without loss of composure

2. Organization

  • Time Management: Determines the appropriate allocation and use of time.
  • Space Management: Effectively manages the workspace such as keeping the environment clean, organized, maintains control over the physical environment to ensure safety.
  • Task Management: Balances conflicting priorities in order to manage workflow, completion and meeting deadlines.

3. Proactive

  • Demonstrates the ability to foresee problems and prevent them by taking action.
  • Utilizes analytical skills and a broad understanding of the business to effectively interpret and anticipate needs

4. Communication Skills

  • Listening skills: Understands that the most important aspect of communication is the act of listening and actively working to improve those skills.
  • Oral skills: Speaks with confidence using clear, concise sentences and is easily understood
  • Written skills: Produces well thought-out, professional correspondence free of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Telephone/E-mail: Uses high quality, professional oral and written skills to project a positive image of the business

5. Client Service

  • Interacts professionally with clients and associates at all times.
  • Promptly responds to requests with accuracy and a courteous attitude.

6. Business Understanding

  • Demonstrates an awareness of fundamental business principles as well as an understanding of the overall industry in which the business operates.

7. Team Player

  • Works as a competent member of the team, willingly providing back-up support for co-workers when appropriate and actively supporting group goals.

8. Computer/Technical Skills

  • Displays proficiency using standard office equipment such as a computer, fax, photocopier, scanner, etc.
  • Demonstrates advanced proficiency by quickly adapting to new technology and easily acquiring new technical skills

9. Judgment

  • Exhibits sound judgment and the ability to make reasonable decisions in the absence of direction.
  • Swiftly refers problems/issues to the appropriate person(s) when necessary.
  • Works effectively without close and direct supervision or guidance

CONCEPT OF TEAM AND CHARACTERISTICS
A team is a group of people having a common purpose or goal. Human teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent sub-tasks. A group does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams usually have complementary roles hence their skills enable them generate synergy which allows members to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Naresh Jain (2009), claims that team members’ help colleagues realize their true potential, and create an environment that allows everyone to pursue organizational goals, while at the same time Teams can be broken down primary, second and tertiary groups.

Building a strong team that can achieve its objectives can be accomplished by incorporating certain characteristics that encourage success. After a leader is selected, team members are informed of the objectives and when goals are expected to be attained. The leader can have team members participate in team-building activities to establish trust and camaraderie among teammates.

Teams fall into the following Categories:
Executive team: An executive team is a management team that draws up plans for activities and then directs these activities (Devine, 2002). An example of an executive team would be a construction team designing blueprints for a new building, and then guiding the construction of the building using these blueprints.

Command team: The goal of the command team is to combine instructions and coordinate action among management. In other words, command teams serve as the “middle man” in task (Devine, 2002). For instance, messengers on a construction site, conveying instructions from the executive team to the builders would be an example of a command team.

Project team : A team used only for a defined period of time and for a separate, concretely definable purpose, often becomes known as a project team. This category of teams includes negotiation, commission and design team subtypes. In general, these types of teams are multi-talented and composed of individuals with expertise in many different areas. Members of these teams might belong to different groups, but receive assignment to activities for the same project , thereby allowing outsiders to view them as a single unit. In this way, setting up a team allegedly facilitates the creation, tracking and assignment of a group of people based on the project in hand. The use of the "team" label in this instance often has no relationship to whether the employees are working as a team.

Advisory teams: Advisory teams make suggestions about a final product (Devine, 2002). For instance, a quality control group on an assembly line would be an example of an advisory team: they would examine the products produced and make suggestions about how to improve the quality of the items being made.

Work teams: Work teams are responsible for the actual act of creating tangible products and services. The actual workers on an assembly line would be an example of a production team, whereas waiters and waitresses at a diner would be an example of a service team.

Setting Clear Objectives: When building a team, objectives must be set in a clear manner. Goals should be specific, measurable, relevant and achievable within a particular time frame. When establishing goals, input from others in the organization can be included in the final copy. Objectives are presented to all team members so everyone is on the same page.

Commitment of Team Members
One characteristic of successful group team building is to make sure the members work for consensus on decisions. Ideally, each individual shares opinions, perceptions and feelings with other team members. If problems arise, the team member takes ownership of the situation and finds solutions instead of passing the blame to others. Team members of successful groups solicit feedback on their behavior so they can improve in the future. They are also thoroughly committed to the objectives.

Interaction among Teammates: Another characteristic of successful group team building is to encourage team members to take ideas and suggestions from other members into consideration. Individuals trust and support their fellow teammates and involve them in decision-making. Individuals must tolerate differences among other team members and try out new ideas.

Lines of Communication: Team building requires a mechanism for communication between the team leader and team members and among members. Consistent communication in the form of newsletters, status reports, emails and meetings ensures that team members are up to speed on what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done.

Definitive Decision-Making Process: A successful group follows a procedure to make decisions and solve problems. This avoids the pitfall of extended and unproductive discussions that can result in frustration and inaction. A definitive procedure removes the burden of decision making from one team member with strong opinions. The clearly stated procedure ensures that all members of the group have a hand in decisions. This procedure may be to direct team members to reach consensus or decide by majority vote.

  • Effective Teams talk to one Another Rather than Behind Each Other’s Back. Back-biting rare or non-existent in an efficient team and there is a high level of mutual trust. Trust creates a bond among the team members and this leads to rapport and solidarity. Tensions are therefore absent.

  • Effective Teams Have a Healthy Respect for Each Other’s Viewpoints. They actively listen and encourage one another and they participate and contribute during group discussions. Disagreements exist but do not snowball into interpersonal conflict.

  • Effective Teams Know How to Deal with Conflicts. Conflicts or disagreements pertaining to task-related discussions are treated as a normal occurrence and the team members do not harbour any animosity towards one another once the team meeting ends.

  • Effective Teams are True Partners in all Aspects Related to Teamwork. They are supportive and have an informal work ethic of sharing and fellowship. There are fully aware of their shared goals and shared responsibility and work towards jointly achieving their objectives.

  • Effective Teams Want Team Success. They realize the need to focus on group goals and rise above personal ambitions. Team members are secure in their individual capabilities and understand the reason why the organization constituted a team in the first place. They are able to work towards executing their role in line with the common goals of the team. They seem to realize that if they carry out their individual roles sincerely, personal recognition is bound to come their way. In other words, there is a good measure of ‘team spirit’ within the team.

HOW TO MAKE TEAMS EFFECTIVE
Teams have always been, and will always be, an essential ingredient for building a successful business. But building great teams isn't something that just happens. It takes planning and painstaking efforts. Central to the success of a team is the skill sets of the employees so tasks can be assigned to them according to their abilities.

There are five steps in building effective teams:
1. Recognize the power of teamwork: TEAM means; Together Each Achieves More and you cannot under-estimate the power of teamwork and how you can best utilize this tool. Consider the result you want and the tasks you may required to achieve it. Look at the employees and match their skills to the tasks of the project, but also identify personalities you feel complement one another. A successful team project maximizes the talents of its individual members, but the true power of teamwork comes from the group's cohesion and combined energies focused on a common goal.

2. Choose the right people: People are at the centre of an effective team. An effective administrator chooses the right people with the requisite experience and perspective to accomplish the project. Hire the right people with skills that can get the job done. Employees must be updated on current knowledge through periodic training.

3. Delegate: An effective administrator delegate s the authority and access the team needs to complete the project. Industrious and creative people will become frustrated very quickly if they do not have the freedom, access to tools, and other resources they need to complete their work. Do not tell team members what to do and how to do it. Instead, work with them and support them to set goals.

4. Monitor progress: An administrator should verify that the team is working well together and that the project is on track. Provide a platform where you and the team can share concerns, successes, and project status on a regular basis. Appoint a team leader, redefine the project and reassign roles. Try to let your team work through its own challenges. When a team identifies, addresses, and pushes through obstacles on its own, individuals draw closer together, and their success builds more confidence.

5. Celebrate your successes: As an administrator, when a team accomplishes its goals, recognize the win and celebrate it. Thank you, you made it is a simple way to motivate teams. Appreciating the accomplishments of a team forges stronger friendship and unity among members. Motivation makes the Team achieve more.

STEP TO BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE TEAM
The first rule of team building is an obvious one: to lead a team effectively, you must first establish your leadership with each team member. This implies building their relationships of trust and loyalty, rather than fear or the power of their positions.

  • Consider each employee's ideas as valuable. Every idea may be important.
  • Be aware of employees' unspoken feelings. An administrator leads by example. Good examples affect team members positively.
  • Act as a harmonizing influence. Resolve disputes as soon as they occur and show team members the higher goal you have to achieve.
  • Be clear when communicating. Be careful to clarify directives.
  • Encourage trust and cooperation among employees on your team. Remember that the relationships team members establish among themselves are every bit as important as those you establish with them. As the team begins to take shape, pay close attention to the ways in which team members work together and take steps to improve communication, cooperation, trust, and respect in those relationships.
  • Encourage team members to share information. Emphasize the importance of each team member's contribution and demonstrate how all of their jobs operate together to move the entire team closer to its goal.
  • Delegate problem-solving tasks to the team. Let the team work on creative solutions together.
  • Facilitate communication. Remember that communication is the single most important factor in successful teamwork. Facilitating communication does not mean holding meetings all the time. Instead it means setting an example by remaining open to suggestions and concerns, by asking questions and offering help, and by doing everything you can to avoid confusion in your own communication.
  • Establish team values and goals; evaluate team performance. Be sure to talk with members about the progress they are making toward established goals so that employees get a sense both of their success and of the challenges that lie ahead. Address teamwork in performance standards. Discuss with your team:
  • What do we really care about in performing our job?
  • What does the word success mean to this team?
  • What actions can we take to live up to our stated values?
  • Make sure that you have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish; that you know what your standards for success are going to be; that you have established clear time frames; and that team members understand their responsibilities.
  • Use consensus. Set objectives, solve problems, and plan for action. While it takes much longer to establish consensus, this method ultimately provides better decisions and greater productivity because it secures every employee's commitment to all phases of the work.
  • Set ground rules for the team. These are the norms that you and the team establish to ensure efficiency and success. They can be simple directives (Team members are to be punctual for meetings) or general guidelines (Every team member has the right to offer ideas and suggestions), but you should make sure that the team creates these ground rules by consensus and commits to them, both as a group and as individuals.
  • Establish a method for arriving at a consensus. You may want to conduct open debate about the pros and cons of proposals, or establish research committees to investigate issues and deliver reports.
  • Encourage listening and brainstorming. As supervisor, your first priority in creating consensus is to stimulate debate. Remember that employees are often afraid to disagree with one another and that this fear can lead your team to make mediocre decisions. When you encourage debate you inspire creativity and that's how you'll spur your team on to better results.
  • Establish the parameters of consensus-building sessions. Be sensitive to the frustration that can mount when the team is not achieving consensus. At the outset of your meeting, establish time limits, and work with the team to achieve consensus within those parameters. Watch out for false consensus; if an agreement is struck too quickly, be careful to probe individual team members to discover their real feelings about the proposed solution (Idumange: 2014).

Using Administrative Skills to Build Teams
Technical skills can be used to develop Team Work in more than one way.

  • Accomplish tasks in groups and analyze knotty issues
  • Establish work procedures and processes
  • Put in place appropriate rule and regulations to foster team camaraderie
  • Job description and task assignment
  • Supervision to ensure that tasks are accomplished
  • Measure performance against established standards

Human Skills are essential in team building in the following ways:

  • Communication with members to strengthen the bond of relationship
  • Motivate workers intrinsically or extrinsically to encourage performance
  • Initiate training programmes for staff to acquire skills
  • Conflict resolution among team members to ensure they pursue organizational goals with vigour
  • Meeting their safety and psychological needs
  • Ensuring good public relations and Corporate Social Responsibility

Conceptual Skills can contribute to team building as follows:

  • Preparing the Organizational vision and mission
  • Making medium and long-term strategic plans for organizational development
  • Building human capital development to enhance productivity and accumulating social Capital to promote as cohesion and equity.
  • Making broad policies to encourage synergy with other organizations and partners
  • Encouraging Research and Developing
  • Making innovations with a view to creating new knowledge

Conclusion: Effective administration depends on three basic personal skills: technical, human, and conceptual. The administrator needs sufficient technical skills to accomplish the mechanics of the particular job for which he is responsible. Also he needs sufficient human skill in working with people in an effective team and to build cooperative effort within the team. The Administrator needs sufficient conceptual skill to recognize the interrelationships of the various factors involved in specific cases in administration with a view to achieving organizational goals.

The relative importance of these three skills seems to vary with the level of administrative responsibility. At lower levels, the major need is for technical and human skills. At higher levels, the administrator’s effectiveness depends largely on human and conceptual skills. At the top, conceptual skill becomes the most important of all for successful administration.

The three-skill approach emphasizes that good administrators are not necessarily born; they may be developed. It transcends the need to identify specific traits in an effort to provide a more useful way of looking at the administrative process. By helping to identify the skills most needed at various levels of responsibility, it may prove useful in the selection, training, and promotion of executives.

Team work is essential for an organization to achieve peak performance. In peak performance teams, there is regular discussion about the values, principles, and behaviors that guide the decisions of the team. The leader encourages values such as honesty, openness, punctuality, responsibility for completing assignments, quality work. High performance organizations manage individual performance and help others reach their potential. Administrative skills are necessary for effective measurement, analysis and review of performance data to drive improvement and organizational competitiveness. Administrative skills can be developed to achieve organizational vision, adherence to the core values and setting goals that are realistic and achievable within the framework of (SMART)

You have been most indulgent and I thank you.
Friday 4th, March, 2016
References:
Cleland, David I. (1996). Strategic Management of Teams . John Wiley & Sons. p. 132. ISBN 9780471120582 . Retrieved 2014-05-05. Managers may believe that the current use of teams is a management fad that will go away in time, and the traditional vertical organizational design will once again hold forth.

De Waal, A. (2010): The characteristics of a high performance Organization. Centre for Organizational Performance. Hilversum.

Fayol, H. (1949). General and Industrial Management. (C. Storrs, Trans.). London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, LTD. (Original work published 1918)

Gulick, L. H. (1936). Notes on the Theory of Organization. L. Gulick & L. Urwick (Eds.), Papers on the Science of Administration (pp. 3–35). New York: Institute of Public Administration.

Hackman, J. R. (2002). Leading teams: Setting the stage for greater performances. New York: Harvard Business School Press

Idumange J.A. (2014) “OPTIMIZING THE ICT AND SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM FOR SUSTAINABLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE NIGER DELTA REGION” Being a Paper presented at an Entrepreneurship Workshop held at the NUJ Centre, Azikoro Road, Yenagoa-Bayelsa State, 2014 October 15th.

ILO (2001). Meeting the Youth Employment Challenge: a Guide for Employers. International Labour Office, Geneva.

Jain, Naresh (2009). "Run marathons, not sprints". In Davis, Barbee. 97 Things Every Project Manager Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts . O'Reilly Media, Inc. p. 96.

Pindur, W.; Rogers, S. E.; and Kim, P. S. (1995). The history of management: a global perspective. 'Journal of Management History, 1 (1), pp. 59–77.

Some Terms in Administration

  • ASAP As soon as possible
  • AWOL Absent without leave
  • INTERPOL International Criminal Police Organization
  • KIV Keep In View
  • TAU Treat As Urgent
  • IRS Internal Revenue Service
  • JP Justice of the Peace
  • NBAU No business as usual
  • PA Power of Attorney
  • PEP Promoting Enduring Peace
  • POC Prisoners of conscience
  • PPPPPPP Proper prior planning prevents putrid poor performance
  • PRO Public relations officer
  • R&D Research and development
  • SOS Save Our Soul
  • IDP Internally Displaced Person
  • ZPG Zero Population Growth
  • LIFO Last In First Out
  • FIFO First In First Out
  • SWOT Strength, Weakness, Opportunity & Threat
  • STOP Save the Oppressed People
  • CAO Chief Analytics Officer
  • CDO Chief Data Officer
  • CEO Chief Executive Officer
  • CIO Chief Information Officer
  • CMO Chief Marketing Officer
  • CNO Chief Networking Officer
  • COO Chief Operating Officer
  • CRM Customer Relationship Manager
  • CSO Chief Security Officer
  • CTO Chief Technology Officer
  • SEM Social Engine Marketing
  • SMO Social Media Optimization

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Idumange John and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Idumange John