Most Important Functions of Management

Some would define management as an art, while others would define it as a science. Whether management is an art or a science isn’t what is most important. Management is a process that is used to accomplish organizational goals; that is, a process that is used to achieve what an organization wants to achieve. An organization could be a business, a school, a city, a group of volunteers, or any governmental entity. Managers are the people to whom this management task is assigned, and it is generally thought that they achieve the desired goals through the key functions of management. Some would include leading as a managing function, but for the purposes of this discussion, leading is included as a part of directing.

The elements of management process are known as functions of management. However various authors have classified these differently. Henry Fayol classified the major functions of management into five:

  1. Planning
  2. Organizing
  3. Commanding
  4. Coordinating and
  5. Controlling

Functions of Management

Luther Gullick has given the word ‘POSDCORB’ which stands for

  1. Planning (P)
  2. Organizing (O)
  3. Staffing (S)
  4. Directing (D)
  5. Controlling (CO)
  6. Reporting (R) and
  7. Budgeting(B)

Koontz and O’Donnell have suggested

  1. Planning
  2. Organizing
  3. Staffing
  4. Directing and
  5. Controlling

The important functions of management is explained below:

1. Planning

Planning in any organization occurs in different ways and at all levels. A top-level manager, say the manager of a manufacturing plant, plans for different events than does a manager who supervises, say, a group of workers who are responsible for assembling modular homes on an assembly line. The plant manager must be concerned with the overall operations of the plant, while the assembly-line manager or supervisor is only responsible for the line that he or she oversees.

Planning could include setting organizational goals. This is usually done by higher-level managers in an organization. As a part of the planning process, the manager then develops strategies for achieving the goals of the organization. In order to implement the strategies, resources will be needed and must be acquired. The planners must also then determine the standards, or levels of quality, that need to be met in completing the tasks.

In general, planning can be strategic planning, tactical planning, or contingency planning.

  1. Strategic planning is long-range planning that is normally completed by top-level managers in an organization. Examples of strategic decisions managers make are who the customer or clientele should be, what products or services should be sold, and where the products and services should be sold.
  2. Short-range or tactical planning is done for the benefit of lower-level managers, since it is the process of developing very detailed strategies about what needs to be done, who should do it, and how it should be done. To return to the previous example of assembling modular homes, as the home is nearing construction on the floor of the plant, plans must be made for the best way to move it through the plant so that each worker can complete assigned tasks in the most efficient manner. These plans can best be developed and implemented by the line managers who oversee the production process rather than managers who sit in an office and plan for the overall operation of the company. The tactical plans fit into the strategic plans and are necessary to implement the strategic plans.
  3. Contingency planning allows for alternative courses of action when the primary plans that have been developed don’t achieve the goals of the organization. In today’s economic environment, plans may need to be changed very rapidly. Continuing with the example of building modular homes in the plant, what if the plant is using a nearby supplier for all the lumber used in the framing of the homes and the supplier has a major warehouse fire and loses its entire inventory of framing lumber. Contingency plans would make it possible for the modular home builder to continue construction by going to another supplier for the same lumber that it can no longer get from its former supplier.

2. Organizing

Organizing is the process of arranging and allocating work, authority, and resources among an organization’s members so that they can achieve the organization’s goals. In the process of organizing, managers arrange a framework that links all workers, tasks, and resources together so the organizational goals can be achieved. The framework is called organizational structureOrganizing is to give a proper shape to the structure that should execute the plan smoothly to achieve its success. It is the function of grouping together different parts forming an enterprise to carry out defined operations. Various activities to fulfill the goals have to be grouped and these are to be assigned to people in-groups or departments. The authority, responsibility, accountability needed at each level to execute the plan is to be defined and delegated.

3. Staffing

The staffing function of management involves identifying/selecting the right person for executing each task planned. The staffing function includes all the jobs connected with recruitment, selection, training, placement, remuneration appraisal, promotion, career planning of the human resources in the organization to accomplish the task effectively and efficiently.

4. Directing

Directing is the process that many people would most relate to managing. It is supervising, or leading workers to accomplish the goals of the organization. In many organizations, directing involves making assignments, assisting workers to carry out assignments, interpreting organizational policies, and informing workers of how well they are performing. To effectively carry out this function, managers must have leadership skills in order to get workers to perform effectively.

Some managers direct by empowering workers. This means that the manager doesn’t stand like a taskmaster over the workers barking out orders and correcting mistakes. Empowered workers usually work in teams and are given the authority to make decisions about what plans will be carried out and how. Empowered workers have the support of managers who will assist them to make sure the goals of the organization are being met. It is generally thought that workers who are involved with the decision-making process feel more of a sense of ownership in their work, take more pride in their work, and are better performers on the job.

By the very nature of directing, it should be obvious that the manager must find a way to get workers to perform their jobs. There are many different ways managers can do this in addition to empowerment, and there are many theories about the best way to get workers to perform effectively and efficiently.

5. Controlling

The controlling function involves the evaluation activities that managers must perform. It is the process of determining if the company’s goals and objectives are being met. This process also includes correcting situations in which the goals and objectives are not being met. There are several activities that are a part of the controlling function.

Managers must first set standards of performance for workers. These standards are levels of performance that should be met. For example, in the modular home assembly process, the standard might be to have a home completed in eight working days as it moves through the construction line. This is a standard that must then be communicated to managers who are supervising workers, and then to the workers so they know what is expected of them.

After the standards have been set and communicated, it is the manager’s responsibility to monitor performance to see that the standards are being met. If the manager watches the homes move through the construction process and sees that it takes ten days, something must be done about it. The standards that have been set are not being met. In this example, it should be relatively easy for managers to determine where the delays are occurring. Once the problems are analyzed and compared to expectations, then something must be done to correct the results. Normally, the managers would take corrective action by working with the employees who were causing the delays. There could be many reasons for the delays. Perhaps it isn’t the fault of the workers but instead is due to inadequate equipment or an insufficient number of workers. Whatever the problem, corrective action should be taken.

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