Management is the process of controlling and aligning resources effectually, according to organizational goals (Ahmad et al. 2). It is accomplishing tasks through people. There are five major functions of management – planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling. All these functions are related and are performed by every manager, albeit at different levels.
Planning is the first crucial function of management. It is a fundamental responsibility of top management to create a strategy, which will guide the organization both in the short term and in the long term (Reilly, Minnick & Baack 12). During planning, the objectives which the organization intends to achieve are established in a systematic process. Planning is an all-encompassing function which all managers perform at one time or the other, the only difference being the nature of policies and authority. Efficiency in planning means that managers can predict output based on available resources. The expected output of planning is both tangible and intangible. Without planning, the organization cannot accomplish all other goals effectively.
Plans are hierarchical in nature because planning occurs at various interrelated levels (Ahmad et al. 2). The mission/purpose of an organization tends to be equivocal because it expresses the general intention. Below the mission are the goals and objectives, which target specific activities. Goals and objectives are accomplished through lower level plans called strategies. Policies (both major and minor) are the vehicles for achieving strategies. Procedures and rules are the supportive framework for policies. Programmes and projects are the specific plans which encompass tasks, aims and rules. Finally, budgets are financial plans to actualize all other plans. Budgets are, however, based on all the other plans.
Harry Giggs is a supervisor in a renowned supermarket in a large city. Although he is not a senior manager, he is involved in planning for the branch he works in and the entire organization. At the end of every financial year, he joins other managers in an annual retreat where performance is reviewed and plans made for the following year. Harry was recently involved in developing a strategic plan for the supermarket chain after the previous one had come to an end. During the meeting, every branch was also required to come up with its annual plan. Harry is also responsible for sales forecasting in the branch he works in. He has also become adept at financial planning owing to his involvement in budgeting.
Management is also tasked with systematically bringing physical and human resources together for achievement of common organizational goals (Reilly, Minnick & Baack 56). Managers deal with organizational structure, division of labor, delegation, creation of departments, and unofficial structures. Unless this is done, the organization risks chaos and failure to achieve goals because of confusion of tasks and roles. Organizations may either decentralize or centralize power depending on their objectives and orientation.
The process of organizing results in hierarchical arrangement of positions and well-defined authority, responsibility and accountability. Power moves downwards; accountability moves upwards, while responsibility is placed in individual employees. Authority is the power to assign tasks and order others to accomplish specified duties (Ahmad et al. 75). Managers also delegate authority to subordinates, although not all functions can be delegated. They have power to reward or punish employees based on established criteria. Responsibility is the obligation to act. It cannot be delegated as everyone is hired to do a particular job. Accountability means that every employee should account for the role they have been given. It is often demanded by a superior from a subordinate.
Harry exercises authority, power and responsibility over 45 workers in his section, which deals with household goods. He is responsible for organizing his staff into units and supervising how they perform their duties. In his office, he has an organizational chart in which the roles and responsibilities of each staff members are delineated and elaborated on. During meetings with subordinate staff, he emphasizes the need for each member of staff to address his or her concerns to the relevant head of unit. Harry also ensures the span of control for each unit head is manageable. He also reshuffles unit heads and other workers, in case there is need, in the quest for greater productivity.
Staffing involves populating the organization with the right caliber of staff in conformity with organizational objectives. The organization may not achieve its targets effectually unless it has the appropriate human resource (Reilly, Minnick & Baack 82). All managers engage in staffing. This function is continuous because of staff turn-over, promotions, demotions and transfers. The staffing function involves recruiting, screening, hiring, training and maintaining the right quality and quantity of employees.
Recruiting demands that managers identify and fill every position in the organization with the relevant human resource. To this end, managers are obligated to develop job descriptions which encompass all the functions of the vacant position. Managers should screen job candidates to ensure they only recruit those who have the requisite skill, experience and attitudes to fill positions in the organization. Screening involves preparing advertisements, the interview processes and testing and background checks on prospective employees. Hiring is a managerial skill which entails persuading and attracting highly-productive staff to the organization. Training is crucial for making the recruited employees more efficient. Training may be costly but it cannot be compared with the consequences of having untrained or poorly-trained employees. Hiring the right employees may be significant to the organization, but so is maintaining them. Organizations pursue the best employees as a strategy of gaining competitive advantage. For this reason, every organization should devise strategies to maintain its best employees. This includes offering attractive salaries and other benefits to individuals and their respective families. Maintaining employees implies motivating them through pertinent monetary rewards to provide the best services, hence averting high turnover.
Harry participates in recruiting staff for his section. His employer requires that, for any vacant positions, the manager who will be in charge of the new staff member must participate in the recruitment process. Harry writes job-descriptions and prepares for interviews. He also trains the newly-recruited employees, deploys them and then supervises their work. He gathers information both officially and informally on motivation and makes recommendations, some of which are implemented. He says that he has had minimal employee turnover during supervisory tenure.
Directing is a human skill which involves instructing, guiding and overseeing the performance of employees towards organizational goals. It entails influencing employees to make effective decisions and take effectual action (Reilly, Minnick & Baack 114). It is also a pervasive function. Some scholars use delegating and leading synonymously. Managers should prepare future leaders by delegating, allocating tasks and supervising employees under them.
Directing implies making decisions and solving problems. Management staff requires this skill for productivity. It is impossible for an organization to realize success when its employees are not working in tandem with management. While management is crucial for achievement of organizational goals, leadership ensures that success is a mutual process that stems all employees in the organization. Leadership evinces the human face of a manager. Effective leadership results in synergy and greater production because followers (employees) feel valued. Communication is also crucial to directing since employees can only perform optimally if they are well-informed about their roles and tasks. Another important aspect of directing is motivation. This encompasses some issues that are handled under staffing, like monetary rewards. Other factors of motivation include understand and meeting employees’ needs and rewarding their efforts. Discipline is also part of directing. Employees must be held accountable for their actions at all times. This will not be difficult if they have already been made to feel valued.
Harry says he has evolved into a leader during his time at the firm. He is involved in making decisions and solving problems every day. He also provides leadership for the employees under him and has forged close links with them. He is involved personally in motivating his staff and communicates with them both formally and informally. As a supervisor, Harry is responsible for discipline and often handles issues of lateness, absenteeism and laxity among employees.
The final function of management is evaluation of performance against organizational goals (Reilly, Minnick & Baack 149). Control is imperative for employees to adhere to established procedure. Unless employees are controlled, they will not achieve what the organization has set for itself. It is, therefore, important for managers to understand what is expected of them, and also inform the workers under them about the goals to be achieved.
For effective control, managers must first establish standards. This is accomplished by referring to the objectives of the organization and comparing them with the resources available. Standards must therefore be realistic and time-bound. Moreover, they must be understood clearly by all employees to avoid ambivalence and mediocre achievement. Another important aspect of control is measurement and performance reporting. Every employee must understand the targets and how they are to be evaluated. The criteria for performance should be uniform. In addition, control must have some measure of comparison. The predicted performance should be informed by previous performance to establish the underlying reasons for underperformance or high performance. Managerial control also entails taking corrective action once performance has been established and the contributory factors analyzed. Any disparity between actual and predicted performance should be addressed. Control is continuous, anticipatory and retrospective.
During annual retreats, Harry and fellow managers participate in setting targets for the entire supermarket chain and specific branches. These targets are then cascaded to every section for implementation by supervisors and their staff. He, therefore, understands and communicates the expected objectives to his staff. He is also responsible for appraising staff at the end of the year; recommending them for promotions and further training and rewards and sanctions, where relevant. Harry is, therefore, regarded as one of the most successful supervisors in the supermarket chain. He is due for promotion at the end of this financial year.
Managers are tasked with many responsibilities in an organization. All these functions can be summarized as planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling. All these functions are interrelated.
Ahmad, Shahrol Aman, et al. Fundamentals of Management. Kuala Lumpur: Open University of
Malaysia, 2009. Print.
Reilly, Michael, Charles Minnick & Don Baack. Five Functions of Effective Management. San
Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc., 2011. Print.