In the words of Haimann, “Co-ordination is the orderly synchronisation of efforts of the subordinates to provide the proper amount, timing and quality of execution so that their unified efforts lead to the stated objective, namely the common purpose of the enterprise.”
Read More: Coordination in Business Management
Types of co-ordination:
The co-ordination may be divided on different bases, namely;
1. Scope – on the basis of scope or coverage, co-ordination can be.
- Internal – refers to co-ordination between the different units of an organisation within and is achieved by integrating the goals and activities of different departments of the enterprise.
- External – refers to co-ordination between an organisation and its external environment comprising government, community, customers, investors, suppliers, competitors, research institutions, etc. It requires proper match between policies and activities of the enterprise and the outside world.
2. Flow – on the basis of flow, co-ordination can classified into:
- Vertical – implies co-ordination between different levels of the organisation and has to ensure that all the levels in the organisation act in harmony and in accordance with the goals and policies of the organisation. Vertical co-ordination is assured by top management through delegation of authority.
- Horizontal or lateral – refers to co-ordination between different departments and other units at the same level of the management hierarchy. For instance, co-ordination between production department and marketing department is horizontal or lateral co-ordination.
Co-ordination may also be:
3. Procedural and substantive – which according to Herbert A. Simon, procedural co-ordination implies the specification of the organisation in itself, i.e. the generalised description of the behaviour and relationship of the members of the organisation. On the other hand, substantive co-ordination is concerned with the content of the organisation’s activities. For instance, in an automobile plant an organisation chart is an aspect of procedural co-ordination, while blueprints for the engine block of the car being manufactured are an aspect of substantive co-ordination.
Techniques of co-ordination:
The main techniques of effective co-ordination are as follows.
- Sound planning – unity of purpose is the first essential condition of co-ordination. Therefore, the goals of the organisation and the goals of its units must be clearly defined. Planning is the ideal stage for co-ordination. Clear-cut objectives, harmonised policies and unified procedures and rules ensure uniformity of action.
- Simplified organisation – a simple and sound organisation is an important means of co-ordination. The lines of authority and responsibility from top to the bottom of the organisation structure should be clearly defined. Clear-cut authority relationships help to reduce conflicts and to hold people responsible. Related activities should be grouped together in one department or unit. Too much specialisation should be avoided as it tends to make every unit an end in itself.
- Effective communication – open and regular communication is the key to co-ordination. Effective interchange of opinions and information helps in resolving differences and in creating mutual understanding. Personal and face-to-face contacts are the most effective means of communication and co-ordination. Committees help to promote unity of purpose and uniformity of action among different departments.
- Effective leadership and supervision – effective leadership ensures co-ordination both at the planning and execution stage. A good leader can guide the activities of his subordinates in the right direction and can inspire them to pull together for the accomplishment of common objectives. Sound leadership can persuade subordinates to have identity of interest and to adopt a common outlook. Personal supervision is an important method of resolving differences of opinion.
- Chain of command – authority is the supreme co-ordinating power in an organisation. Exercise of authority through the chain of command or hierarchy is the traditional means of co-ordination. Co-ordination between interdependent units can be secured by putting them under one boss.
- Indoctrination and incentives – indoctrinating organisational members with the goals and mission of the organisation can transform a neutral body into a committed body. Similarly incentives may be used to create mutuality of interest and to reduce conflicts. For instance, profit-sharing is helpful in promoting team-spirit and co-operation between employers and workers.
- Liaison departments – where frequent contacts between different organisational units are necessary, liaison officers may be employed. For instance, a liaison department may ensure that the production department is meeting the delivery dates and specifications promised by the sales department. Special co-ordinators may be appointed in certain cases. For instance, a project co-ordinator is appointed to co-ordinate the activities of various functionaries in a project which is to be completed within a specified period of time.
- General staff – in large organisations, a centralised pool of staff experts is used for co-ordination. A common staff group serves as the clearing house of information and specialised advice to all department of the enterprise. Such general staff is very helpful in achieving inter-departmental or horizontal co-ordination. Task forces and projects teams are also useful in co-ordination.
- Voluntary co-ordination – when every organisational unit appreciates the workings of related units and modifies its own functioning to suit them, there is self-co-ordination. Self-co-ordination or voluntary co-ordination is possible in a climate of dedication and mutual co-operation. It results from mutual consultation and team-spirit among the members of the organisation. However, it cannot be a substitute for the co-coordinative efforts of managers.
Principles of co-ordination (requisites for effective co-ordination)
Mary Parker Follett has laid out four principles for effective co-ordination;
- Direct personal contact – according to this principle co-ordination is best achieved through direct personal contact with people concerned. Direct face-to-face communication is the most effective way to convey ideas and information and to remove misunderstanding.
- Early beginning – co-ordination can be achieved more easily in early stages of planning and policy-making. Therefore, plans should be based on mutual consultation or participation. Integration of efforts becomes more difficult once the unco-ordinated plans are put into operation. Early co-ordination also improves the quality of plans.
- Reciprocity – this principle states that all factors in a given situation are interdependent and interrelated. For instance, in a group every person influences all others and is in turn influenced by others. When people appreciate the reciprocity of relations, they avoid unilateral action and co-ordination becomes easier.
- Continuity – co-ordination is an on-going or never-ending process rather than a once-for-all activity. It cannot be left to chance, but management has to strive constantly. Sound co-ordination is not fire-fighting, i.e., resolving conflicts as they arise.