Management: Top 5 Functions of Management – Explained!

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"Management is what managers do" points out the functional approach to management. No doubt, many management experts have discussed the functions of management in their own ways. However, there is no unanimity among their classification of functions of management.

The chief reason for this is that different management experts have listed the functions of management on the basis of their experience in an organization. Since the nature of activities varies from organization to organization, the list of managerial functions derived based on managerial experiences is, therefore, very likely to vary.

Naturally, the observations of one manager of one enterprise may differ from others working in other enterprises. As such, different management experts/executives have listed different functions of management.

In the early part of twentieth century, a French industrialist named Henri Fayol wrote that all managers perform five management functions: They plan, organize, command, coordinate, and control. In the mid-1950s, two professors at UCLA used the functions of planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling as the framework for a textbook on management. Luther Gluick used POSDCORB to list the functions of management.

These refer to:

P for Planning

O for Organizing

S for Staffing

D for Directing

CO for Controlling

R for Reporting

B for Budgeting

Nonetheless, all the functions listed by different management experts have been condensed generally to the basic five functions as mentioned below:

Planning

Defining goals, establishing strategy; and developing sub- plans to coordinate activities.

Organizing

Determining what tasks are to be done, who is to do them, how the tasks are to be grouped, who reports to whom, and where decisions are to be made.

Staffing

Placing right person on right job / task.

Directing

Directing and motivating subordinates and resolving conflicts.

Controlling

Monitoring activities to ensure that they are accomplished as planned.

These are now discussed one by one.

Planning:

If we don't have any particular destination in mind, any road will get us there eventually underlines the significance of planning. Hence, almost all human functions start with planning. So is in the business also. In common parlance, planning is a pre-determined course of action to accomplish the set objectives.

Say, it is today's projection for tomorrow's activity. Planning gives a business organization its objectives and sets up the best procedure for reaching them. It involves decision-making as to what is to be done, how it is to be done, when it is to be done, where it is to be done, by whom it is to be done, and so on.

Thus, planning includes determination of objectives, setting rules and procedures, determining projects, setting procedures, policies and strategies, budgeting, rules and procedures, determining projects, setting procedures, policies and strategies, budgeting, etc. In practice, planning pervades in all aspects of business. It is very much involved in organizing, leading, motivating and controlling aspects of a business organisation.

The importance of planning lies in the fact that it ensures smooth and effective completion of activity whatever it may be. Experience suggests that it does not take time to do the things. In fact, it takes time to decide what to do? when to do? where to do? and, how to do? Your own class time-table is the best example to recognize the very importance of planning, i.e. pre-determination of various subjects to be taught in different periods by different teachers.

Remember, that would not otherwise occur. Here the views of Abraham Lincoln seem worth citing to appreciate the significance of planning. "If I am given six hours to cut down a tree, I shall take the first four to sharpen my axe." Go through the following example of a senior secondary student making planning for college, it will help you understand the relevance of planning function in performing any job effectively.

Applying Planning Steps while Preparing for College:

The steps mentioned in this example can be applied to most planning situations. Senior secondary students probably follow these steps to some degree when planning for college.

First, they are aware of the opportunities to attend colleges and the opportunities derived from a college education. Then they set objectives in a variety of areas, such as the area of study and the completion of the degree within three years. They also develop planning premises. Thus, they may make the assumption that scholarships are available or that they may have to work while attending college.

Some students may assume that they want to stay in the same area, or the same State, while others may want to study abroad. In each situation, there are usually several alternatives available that should then be carefully evaluated. Thus, students may assess the advantages and disadvantages of applying for admission at different colleges.

After receiving several acceptance letters, students have to select the most appropriate college. This is an important decision point. After making a choice, they need to formulate alternative plans, which may include selecting housing, moving to the new location, or finding a part-time job near the college. Then the students need to numberise their plans by converting them into budgets, which may include tuition fee, moving and housing costs, clothing and entertainment expenses, and so on.

The above mentioned steps do not always follow the same sequence. For example, when evaluating the alternative courses, one may have to go back and make new assumptions for the various alternatives. Or one may develop different courses of action based on different assumptions. One course may be based on the assumption of obtaining a scholarship, another course on the premise that one has to work through college. Clearly, then, planning is not a linear process but a reiterative one.

Organizing:

Merely planning is not managing a business. It also includes bringing together the executive personnel, workers, capital, machinery, materials, physical facilities and other thing to execute plans. When these resources are assembled, then the enterprise comes to life. Thus, organizing involves bringing together the manpower and material resources for the achievement of objectives set by the enterprise.

Organizing involves dividing work into different parts, grouping these activities in the form of positions, grouping of various positions into departments, assigning such positions to the managers and delegating authority to each manager to accomplish the work in a planned manner. Thus, organizing function can be viewed as a tool to translate plans into realities. In this way, organizing in ultimate analysis provides a mechanism for purposive, integrated, and co-operative action by many people in a joint and organized effort to implement a plan.

Staffing:

Staffing involves manpower planning and manpower management. In simple words, staffing function includes preparing inventory of personnel available, requirement of personnel, sources of manpower supply, their selection, remuneration, training and development, and periodic performance appraisal of personnel working in the enterprise. Staffing function is performed by every manager of the enterprise.

Of course, personnel department facilitates managers in their staffing function by providing, for example, appraisal forms. However, staffing function is a complex and difficult function because it relates to the selection of those persons who are properly qualified and mentally rich for business requirement. The main role of staffing function is to ensure the adequate availability of required human resources all the times in the organization and also ensure a good fit between the persons and posts.

Directing:

The functions like planning, organizing and staffing are merely preparations for doing the work; the directing function actually starts the work. The directing is concerned with guiding, teaching, stimulating and actuating the members to work efficiently. Directing involves telling the employees what and how they have to do the assigned jobs and tasks. Once the employees are oriented to their jobs, they need continuous guiding, communicating, motivating, and leading.

In the words of Joseph Massie (1994), "Directing concerns the total manner in which a manager influences the action of his subordinates. It is the final action of a manager in getting others to act after all preparations have been completed." One successful manager-leader N. R. Narayana Murthy appreciates the role of directing function of management in these words. "Leading is about creating vision, communicating that vision to one's followers, and exhorting them to move towards that vision."

While describing the functions of managers in leading the people, Henri Ford's view on it seems pertinent to cite. He says, "Bringing people together is beginning, working together with people is progress, and keeping people together is success."

Controlling:

Controlling is the last function of management. In simple words, controlling means to see whether the activities have been or being performed, in conformity with the plans or not. Thus, controlling is comparison of actual results with the targets and objectives, identification of variation between the two, if any, and taking corrective measures so that objectives set are achieved.

Haimann (1985) has defined controlling in these words: "Controlling is the process of checking to determine whether or not, proper progress is being made towards the objectives and goals and acting if necessary to correct any deviation".

What flows from the above description is that controlling function of management involves the following sub-functions:

(i) Determination of objectives or standards

(ii) Measurement of actual performance

(iii) Comparison of actual performance with the standards set

(iv) Determination of difference between the two and reasons for the same

(v) Taking corrective measures so that standards set are attained.

Thus, in aggregate, there are three main elements involved in management cycle:

1. Planning

2. Execution or Implementation

3. Control


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