Important Functions of Management

Functions of Management

Table of Contents:-

  1. Functions of Management
  2. Understanding Functions of Management

Functions of Management

The functions of management are essential components that contribute to the success and effectiveness of every organization. These functions are planning, organising, leading, and controlling. They provide a framework for managers to achieve their goals and objectives systematically and efficiently.

Management is an activity consisting of a distinct process – the management process – which is primarily concerned with the important task of goal achievement. Every business enterprise has certain pre-determined objectives. Just as in a football or hockey team, however expert the players might be, they cannot defeat the rival team until and unless they make an integrated effort under the direction of an able captain. 

Similarly, no business enterprise can achieve its objectives until and unless all the members of the unit make an integrated and planned effort under the direction of a central coordinating agency. 

One way is to view management as a set of standard processes or functions that lead to organizational efficiency and effectiveness when carried out well. These processes or functions have been broken down into related elements, forming a helpful framework. A function is a type of work activity that can be identified and distinguished from many other works. Experts have identified several managerial functions as essential elements of management. While Newman and Summer have identified four functions: organizing, planning, leading, and controlling, Henry Fayol has recommended five essential functions: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and handling.

Most authors present five basic functions: planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling. Luther Gulick and L. Urwick have coined an acronym for seven functions: POSDCORB, which stands for Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting, and Budgeting. Some of these functions are presented and discussed below separately. It is important to remember that they are carried out concurrently and simultaneously. The view of this approach is that an organization is a total system, and these functional elements are interrelated and interdependent. The significant advantage of separating and discussing these available elements individually is that this provides a helpful means to examine the threads interwoven into the fabric of managers’ work.

Understanding Functions of Management

In management terminology, this central co-ordinating agency is technically known as ‘M-A-N-A-G-E-M-E-N-T’ and the procedure of getting things done is known as ‘Management Process.’ The process, in general, is defined as a series of operations or actions conducted to an end. The logic of the management process is that particular functions are performed in a sequence through time. In other words, whatever functions are performed by a manager and the sequence in which they are performed is designated as a “Management Process”.

Management has been described as a social process involving responsibility for economical and effective planning and regulation of the operation of an enterprise in the fulfilment of given purposes. It is a dynamic process consisting of different elements and activities. These activities are different from operative functions like finance, marketing, purchasing, etc. Rather these activities are common to every manager irrespective of his status or level.

The list of the functions of management is as follows:

    1. Planning
    2. Organising
    3. Staffing
    4. Directing
    5. Leading
    6. Coordinating, and
    7. Controlling

Planning

Planning is the conscious determination of a future course of action to achieve the desired outcomes. Henry Fayol observes that management should chalk out a plan of action which is the result envisaged, the line of action to be followed, the methods to use and the stages to go through. It is the procedure of thinking before doing. It means the determination of how and where it is to be done, what is to be done, who is to do it and how outcomes are to be evaluated. 

This step involves mapping out exactly how to achieve a certain objective. For example, the organisation’s goal is to improve company sales. The manager first needs to decide which steps are required to accomplish the goal. These steps may include increasing inventory, advertisement, and sales staff. These important steps are developed into a plan. When the plan is in place, the manager can follow it to achieve the objective of improving company sales.

Planning is a bridge that takes us from where we are to where we want to reach. It is the process of determining what should be accomplished and how to do it in advance. In other words, it is an analytical process of establishing goals, objectives, and targets; assessing the future; premising, generating, and evaluating alternatives; selecting programs, projects, or courses; estimating resources; preparing the plan document with derivative plans; and implementing the plan.

Four essential characteristics of planning are:

    1. The purpose of every plan and all derivative programs is to facilitate the accomplishment of enterprise purposes and objectives.
    2. Planning is the “first” function and logically precedes the execution of all other managerial positions.
    3. Managers at all levels are involved in planning.
    4. The efficiency of a plan is measured by the amount it contributes to the purpose and objectives as offset by the costs of other unsought consequences required to formulate and operate.

In other words, planning is characterized by importance, efficient contribution to purpose and objectives, and all-pervasiveness. Some types of plans usually developed and operated include objectives (or goals), strategies (or grand plans), policies, procedures, rules, programs, and budget.

Developing a plan consists of a few logical and basic steps. The first step involves awareness of opportunities and conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. Following this, the second step is establishing specific and clear objectives. The third logical step in planning is premising, which involves considering planning assumptions. Setting complete premises and keeping them up-to-date is a challenging and complex task, and the success of a plan depends on the degree of accuracy in premising.

The fourth step is to search for and examine alternative courses of action. A systematic evaluation of alternative classes immediately follows this step to select the best course of action in the next step. The seventh step is formulating smaller derivative plans. The final step is to quantify the project and derivative strategies by converting them into budgetary figures.

Many scientific techniques and models are available to determine goals and objectives, assess future trends, formulate policies, make decisions among different alternatives, and prepare and produce plans. Rational approaches and principles should be followed in the planning process. In addition to those mentioned above, here are a few listed below:

    • Planning should start with where we are (premising) rather than where we want to be.
    • Individuals involved in planning should agree to use consistent planning premises.
    • Flexibility must be built into the plans.
    • The plans must be closely integrated.
    • The plans should be documented and distributed to all management team members.
    • Planning has value only if it is transformed into action.
    • Plans should be reviewed periodically throughout the year.

Inputs to a plan have to come from every unit of the organization to ensure the involvement and participation of staff working at the operational and supervisory levels, besides the top management, which is more directly connected with the planning process and responsible for it.

A plan document provides a directive course of executive action, incorporating every aspect of the organization’s development. Policies are framed to help the implementation process. Every plan has to fit into a time frame, whether annual, five-year, long-range, or perspective and also has to be flexible to accommodate any unanticipated change at any point in time.

The significance and advantages of planning are:

    • It offsets uncertainty and change.
    • Provides a framework for execution and direction; focuses attention on objectives.
    • Improves services, leads to operations, and facilitates control.
    • Ensures rational and practical development.
    • Permits the anticipation of future resource needs.
    • Bring the skills and experience of staff members to the planning process.

Organising

It is the process of dividing work into convenient tasks or duties, grouping such duties in the form of posts, and delegating authority to each so that work is carried out as planned. The organisation contributes to the efficiency of the enterprise. Through this process, all the activities necessary for goal achievement are performed and repetition and duplication of activities are avoided, thereby reducing operational costs in the organisation. 

The second function of the management is getting prepared, and getting organised. Management must or in the base resources well beforehand to put into practice the course of action to decide what has been planned in the base function. Through this process, management will now determine the inside directorial configuration; establish and maintain relationships, and also assign needed resources.

Organising prescribes formal relationships among people and resources (i.e., personnel, raw materials, tools, capital, etc.) to accomplish goals. Organizing involves:

    • Analyzing the entire activities of an organization into homogeneous types of works and jobs.
    • Sort and group the resulting works and jobs into a logical structure.
    • Assigning these activities to specific positions and persons.
    • Providing a means for coordinating the efforts of individuals and groups.

The term organization refers to both the process and the result of that process. Organization refers to the structure that results from

  1. Assembling the resources necessary to achieve organizational objectives,
  2. Identifying and grouping work,
  3. Defining and delegating responsibility and authority, and
  4. Establishing activity-authority relationships.

In other words, the organization differentiates and integrates the activities necessary to achieve the objectives. Activities are grouped into working divisions, departments, or other identifiable units primarily by clustering similar and related duties. The result is a network of interdependent teams.

The organizational structure usually comprises departments, divisions, sections, units, or cells, obtained based on the division of work and jobs. These structural patterns reflect horizontal and vertical positions, indicating the distribution of work, authority and responsibility, span of control, nature of duties, outflow of work, means for evaluating work output, staff discipline mechanism, smooth flow, functional points, and coordination points, etc.

Studies have been conducted to develop techniques for activity and workload analysis, work and job analysis, job description and definitions, models of organizational structure, and similar others. Organisational charts, block diagrams, workflow charts, etc., vividly portray an organization’s functions, indicating its managerial strength.

Some basic principles of organizing are listed below:

    • The key activities should be clearly defined.
    • The activities should be grouped on a logical basis.
    • The responsibilities of each division, department, unit, and job should be clearly defined.
    • Authority should be delegated as far down in the organization as possible.
    • Responsibility and authority should be made equal.
    • The number of persons reporting to each manager should be reasonable.
    • The organization should be designed to provide stability, flexibility, perpetuation, and self-renewal.
    • The organisational structure should be evaluated based on its contribution to enterprise objectives.

Libraries are generally organized based on their functions: collection development, technical processing, users’ services, etc. However, they can be classified based on user groups served, subjects/areas handled, products and services generated, or a combination. However, organizational structure varies according to the types of libraries, such as national, public, academic, and special libraries.

Staffing

It means manning the positions created by the organisation process. This process includes the selection of candidates for positions, fixing financial compensation, training and development,  transferpromotion, etc. After a manager discerns his area’s needs, he may decide to beef up his staffing by recruiting, selecting, training, and developing employees’ skills. 

A manager in a large organisation often works with the company’s human resources department to achieve this goal. Staffing assists in the selection of the right person for the right job. The manager can conveniently perform the duties of the job descriptionjob analysis, appraisal of efficiency, etc., which come under the staffing function.

If the organizational structure creates positions at different levels for performing various functions, staffing deals with providing the correct type of persons to manage them. Indeed, people are the key to the effective functioning of any organization. The real strength of an organization is its personnel; they can make or mar the organization. Staffing is the formal process of ensuring the organization has qualified workers available at all levels to meet its short and long-term objectives. This function includes:

Some essential basic staffing concepts are job analysis, job description, job specification, job enlargement, and job enrichment (see critical words at the end of the unit). Personnel management has assumed great importance in modern management studies. Attention is increasingly given to the composition of staff, their types and levels, proper recruitment methods and procedures, work distribution and assignment, staff training and development, salary, status, career development opportunities, incentives, and other related aspects. The staffing pattern is constantly changing with the increasing complexities of libraries and the services they are expected to offer. Different categories of specialists are being recruited to operate at various levels in libraries.

Directing or Leading

Once subordinates are oriented, the superior has a continuous responsibility of guiding and leading them to better work performance and motivating them to work with zeal, confidence, and enthusiasm. Direction is the key to the achievement of the desired outcome. It is that part of the managerial function that actuates the organisational methods to work efficiently for the attainment of organisational goals. 

It is considered the life spark of the enterprise which sets in motion the action of people because planning, organising and staffing are mere preparations for doing the work. Direction is the inert-personnel aspect of management that deals directly with influencing, supervising, guiding, and motivating subordinates for the attainment of organisational goals.

Leading is the most important element in directing. Leading involves motivating, communicating, guiding, and encouraging. It requires the manager to assist, coach,  and problem-solve with employees. Once subordinates are oriented, the superior has a continuous responsibility of guiding and leading them to better work performance and motivating them to work with zeal, confidence, and enthusiasm. 

Direction is the key to the accomplishment of the desired result. Leading involves the implementation of plans by mobilising individuals and group efforts through motivation, communication, leadership and supervision. Directing may be defined as the process of activating the efforts of employees towards the accomplishment of organisational goals.

Directing is the managerial function concerned with the interpersonal aspect of managing, by which subordinates are led to understand and contribute effectively and efficiently to attaining enterprise objectives. It aims to get the organization’s members to move in the direction that will achieve its goals.

In other words, directing is the managerial function that enables managers to get things done through persons, both individually and collectively. Directing is related to staffing because these two functions concern the organization’s employees. While staffing is concerned with providing and maintaining human resources, directing deals with leading and motivating the human resources to give their best. It is the most interpersonal aspect of management. Directing is closely related to the communicating function, and inspiring, actuating, and leading are sub-functions of directing.

Directing is not the singular function of top management. It permeates the organization at all supervisory levels. This calls for good interpersonal communication, both oral and written. Written communications are often through memos, letters, reports, directives, policy guidelines, staff and work manuals, and others. It is essential to draft them unambiguously to give proper direction to the employees. This is supported by oral communication, formally at staff meetings, and informally on other occasions.

It is necessary to note some essential principles of directing. The more effective the directing process, the more significant the contribution of subordinates to organizational goals (the direction of directing objective), and the more individuals perceive that their personal goals are in harmony with enterprise objectives (the principle of Harmony of Objectives). The more completely an individual has a reporting relationship to a single superior, the less the problem of conflict in instructions and the greater the feeling of personal responsibility for results (the principle of Unity of Command). Interestingly, reporting is the converse function of directing. In other words, between two persons in the hierarchy, if A directs B, then B reports to A.

Controlling

After the other components of the organisation are in place, a manager’s job is not finished. He needs to continually check results against goals and take any corrective actions necessary to make sure that his area’s plans remain on track. It involves the process of visualising whether the activities have been performed or are being performed in the same way as mentioned in the plans because any deviation will result in inefficiency in the organisation. The controlling function brings to light the deviations if any and assists the management in making the required changes in the policies or plan.

Management control can be defined as a systematic effort by business management to compare performance to predetermined plans, standards, or objectives to determine whether performance is in line with these standards. It is also used to determine, presumably, if any remedial action is needed to ensure that human and other corporate resources are being used most effectively and efficiently possible to achieve corporate objectives.

Another important aspect of directing is the exercise of control over the system. Control does not merely mean restrictions or restraints to be forced on the system. Still, they are guidelines for the organization to perform according to set efficiency and quality standards. What is implied in this is accountability and the obligation of the staff at all levels to report to a higher authority on their productivity, both in terms of quality and quantity. However, these would need yardstick measurement tools and techniques for evaluating performance. Thus, both directing and reporting are closely related to the controlling function.

Controlling is comparing actual performance with standards and taking any necessary corrective action. Hence, the control process consists of

  1. The establishment of standards,
  2. The measurement of performance, and
  3. The correction of deviations.

The standards may be physical standards, cost standards, revenue standards, or even intangible standards. Some common traditional control measures are budgets, statistical data, special reports, breakeven point analysis, internal audits, and personal observation. Other control measures include time-event network analysis like milestone budgeting, Program Evaluation and Review Techniques (PERT/CPM), program budgeting, profit and loss control, return on investment (ROI), and general key result areas like profitability, market position, productivity, public responsibility, etc.

It has already been stated that establishing standards for quality, quantity, cost, and time, measuring performance against set standards, and correcting deviations are the three basic steps involved in measuring performance. Performance is closely related to techniques of operations and technology employed. Modern management uses Operations Research, Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), Critical Path Method (CPM), system analysis, and others to improve quality.

A sound control system should be forward-looking, objective, flexible, economical, and understandable, reflect the nature and needs of the activity and the organizational pattern, promptly report deviations and exceptions at critical points, and lead to corrective actions. The other essential principles of control are listed below:

    • Controls require a clearly defined organizational structure.
    • Controls must be based on plans.
    • Controlling is a primary responsibility of every manager charged with executing plans.
    • The control should be exercised where the malfunction is likely to occur.
    • Controls must focus on critical variables.
    • Controls must be meaningful and economical.
    • Controls must provide accurate and timely feedback.
    • Feedforward controls should be used to supplement feedback control.
    • Controlling requires action.

Devising effective control instruments for libraries is difficult due to their service and not-for-profit nature. Without realistic, objective, and precise standards for measuring performance, libraries resort to using objectives, budgets, internal audits, and the like.

Functions of Management

Other Managerial Functions

There are additional managerial functions beyond the five most essential elements discussed above. Motivating, actuating, and leading have already been mentioned as sub-functions of directing. Communication, delegating, coordinating, reporting, budgeting, innovating, influencing, representing, etc., are often considered managerial functions.

Coordinating

Coordinating is linking several activities to achieve a functional whole in the organization. In other words, it is the process of ensuring that individuals who perform interdependent activities work together to contribute to overall goal attainment. Coordinating involves the management of interdependence in a work situation and goes beyond mere cooperation, incorporating an information-giving function. As we have learned in the organizing process, an organization’s work is divided into various functional units, and the coordinating role ensures that all these units efficiently contribute to the objective. In the coordinating process, a manager must act as a leader, putting their leadership skills to the test. The best coordination occurs when individuals understand how their jobs contribute to the organization’s goals. To avoid splintering efforts, the dominant purpose of the organization should be clearly defined and communicated to everyone concerned. Plans of subordinate departments should be designed to contribute to the organization’s overarching goals. Coordination requires leadership, communication, and delegation skills.

Communicating

As mentioned earlier, communication is the transfer of information, ideas, understanding, or feelings between people. In other words, it is the process of passing knowledge and experience from one person to another. Its importance is self-evident among library and information professionals. Communication is an all-pervasive phenomenon, and librarians must communicate with each other in issuing or responding to directives and carrying out management functions. They also continuously communicate with users and authorities. Both written and oral communication are utilized to obtain and provide information for planning and decision making. Though, it may be beyond the scope of this unit, it’s worth noting that there are many obstacles or barriers to effective communication.

Reporting

Reporting, as previously mentioned, is the converse of directing. Reporting serves the purpose of keeping authorities and the public at large informed about the performance, achievements, and shortfalls for a specific period. This function facilitates a healthy self-assessment and contributes to maintaining good public relations. Libraries typically generate a significant amount of statistical data and reports.

Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the plan documents. It is a statement of the planned allocation of resources expressed in financial or numerical terms. Budgeting encompasses financial planning, accounting, and controlling.

Innovating

As every organization has to grow bigger and better constantly, innovation becomes an essential manager function. Innovation means creating new ideas, which may result in developing new products or finding new uses for the old ones.

Representing

Today’s manager must spend part of his time representing his organization before various outside groups (stakeholders) like government officials, labour unions, financial institutions, suppliers, customers, etc. Lastly, listing and explaining all other managerial functions is neither desirable nor feasible. Many are closely related to and even overlap with the procedures discussed.

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