SUCCESS IN MANAGEMENT STEMS LARGELY FROM skill sets as opposed to externalities such as height, good-looks, or racial group as it may have pre-21st Century. Neither does success depend on charisma alone. The primary determinant of managerial success results from how well the manager knows then executes her Four Major Functions as manager.
These four major functions of management are Planning, Organizing, Controlling, and Directing. While these functions share similarities, they are distinct and developed to produce different outcomes. However, this is accomplished with the success of the enterprise as the end-goal.
Let’s examine individual functions, starting with Planning.
Planning includes major activities that encompass decisions involving company goals and direction, and figuring out ways to implement these directives within constraints of finite resources. Besides ones education, the industry in which one learned to manage provides some initial direction. For instance, ideas used in the hospitality industry may not translate to success-filled plans in agribusiness if one changed jobs.
Primary plans need to be available for everyone to see. These plans are policies, procedures, and most mission statements. One must communicate these plans to the work force.
The ever-important planning function must expound a direction and its goal(s); planning must also elaborate the means to accomplish the jobs; the resources to be used, and training to accomplish these tasks. Additionally, there must also exist a means through which to evaluate alternative courses of action, and determine if ones goals and procedures have aligned, or tragically, why they have not. If ones goals are not being met, troubleshoot the plans, ask for feedback, and never be fearful of going back to the drawing board. After all, short cuts such as installing faulty products (instead of finding another distributor to provide a better part) have led to deaths and billions of dollars in liability, resulting in mass recall of products because the end goal of profit was thought to be more important short-term than long-term, ethical and strategic plans and procedures upon which any company is founded.
Organizing, as alluded to in the first function, is likely the most similar and parcel to the planning function. It’s in the organization of the business that ones goals will be implemented and tasks carried out. This entails deciding which employees do specific jobs and “establishing a framework of authority and accountability among the people… ” assigned to complete the jobs (Greer & Plunkett, 2007:100).
Whether a business is bureaucratic (infexible and reactive) or organic (flexible and creative), this design will have an effect on the entirety of philosophy, hierarchy, and effort of the employee. This must be kept in mind as part of some radical strategy may even perhaps involve revamping the design of the organization itself so as to better compete in a dynamic market (e.g. outsourcing, virtual conferences, etc.)
Directing is thought of in much the same way as one thinks if a music conductor. The music conductor coordinates the structure of a symphony by employing variously specialized musicians to work together, each contributing to a highly intricate goal at the behest of the conductor. Successful directors and managers do the recruiting and staffing based on needs, tasks and corporate goals, and coordinate training staff to function in their particular symphony of commerce. Once staffed and trained, these roles also require support through incentives, discipline, evaluation, and motivation.
This important function, a human resources function, demands a group of skills that the manager must enrich through practice. One must learn to draw upon these skills at-will to influence others and to exercise leadership.
Finally, there is the Control function. This function invokes history; that is, comparing industry standards for performance to ones own. Standards must be accepted practices, produce quantifiable or measurable results, must be economically sensible, and focus on key points of the service or production to have maximal effect.
To illustrate this control concept, there is a popular story about a manager who held a meeting before shift began at an assembly plant. She talks about efficiency and savings then concludes the meeting with, “Does anyone have input or suggestions?” The workers are standing around trying to come up with something when a new employee yells (in a strong southern accent) from the back of the crowd, “We always have to leave the production floor to fetch gloves and that takes like 30-min. We have to walk to storage, fill out some long form. On top all that, we have locate two-managers to sign-off on it just to get a pair of gloves to do our jobs. That seems to be completely senseless, if you ask me.”
The manager smiles, then she replies, “From now on gloves will be moved to the production floor, require no forms, and no signatures.”
Needless to say its easy to see production increased throughout the entire organization based on initiative to ask a question and take really simple action.
While not every problem can be solved as easily as shown in the glove anecdote, it does illustrate successful use of all four functions of management. With practice and experience employing functions of management, one ties the success of business to oneself. Skilled, confident employment of these functions starts with these “secrets”:
1) knowing the business
2) knowing the staff
3) knowing corporate goals
4) possess the willingness to elevate the firm through critical thinking and decisive action.
Those are the secrets.
• Charles Greer, and R. Plunkett.
SUPERVISORY MANAGEMENT, 11th ed. NJ.
• images, courtesy of shutterstock.com