The Control Function of Management

Control means, “Some sort of systematic effort to compare current performance to a predetermined plan of objective, presumably in order to take any remedial action required”. This is a very general definition of the term. However, as a management function, it has been defined as “the process by which managers assure that resources are obtained and used effectively and efficiently in the accomplishment of the organization’s goals”.

The Control Function of Management

Controlling is tool for achieving organizational goals and activities. Control is management’s planning, implementation, evaluation, and correction of performance to ensure that the organization meets its objectives in the short, medium and long terms.

  • According to Henry Fayol, ‘Control of an undertaking consists of seeing that everything is being carried out in accordance with the plan which has been adopted, the orders which have been given, and the principles which have been laid down. Its object is to point out mistakes in order that they may be rectified and prevented from recurring’.
  • According to EFL Breach, ‘Control is checking current performance against predetermined standards contained in the plans, with a view to ensure adequate progress and satisfactory performance.’
  • According to Harold Koontz and O’Donnel, ‘Controlling is the measurement and correction of performance in order to make sure that enterprise’s objectives and the plans devised to attain them are accomplished.’

From these definitions, it could be deduced that control, one of the managerial functions like planning, organizing, etc. is an important function because it helps ensuring that the planned goals are attained through a system of checks, monitoring, corrective actions and forward thinking so that errors are removed, and corrective actions taken timely so that deviation from standards are minimized, if not eliminated. According to modern concepts, control is a foreseeing action, whereas the earlier concept of control was used only when errors were detected. Control function of management means setting standards, measuring actual performance and taking corrective action. Thus, control function of management comprises these three main activities.

Management Control Process involves establishment of standards or targets of performance, measurement of actual performance, and comparison of actual performance with standards, examining the causes for any deviations in performance and taking corrective actions.

The Control Process in Management

Planning and controlling go together. Planning is a process by which an organization’s objectives and the methods to achieve the objectives are established, and controlling is a process which measures and monitors the actual performance conform to planned objectives of the organization. Thus, planning and control are often referred to as ‘Siamese Twins’ of management.

A control system is necessary in any organization in which the activities of different divisions, departments, sections, and so on need to be coordinated and controlled. Most control systems are post-action-oriented or feed-back control type and consequently are inefficient or fail. For example, there is little an employee can do today to correct the results of actions completed two weeks ago.

Steering control or feed-forward control system, on the other hand, is future-oriented and predict adjustments to be made to put back on remedial course before the outcome drifts from planned scheme.

In between there is a system of control called concurrent or real time control, which make corrective courses made continuously as executions happen. But, there is no forward stretch to predict possible mishaps in the later phases, due to current actions and having a plan to stop such mishaps from happening.

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