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Functions of Management Essay

All successful managers use the four functions of management, planning, organising, leading and controlling. The Australian Bureau of statistics tells us that one in every ten employees is a manager (Cole, 2001, p.4). The National Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills, chaired by David Karpin, estimated that Australia has a total of 890,000 managers. About half of them are over 40 years of age. Just over half (about 511,000 are employed in the 80% of Australia’s enterprises that have four or fewer employees (Cole, 2001, p.4). These managers occupy many levels of management in an organisation, starting with first line supervisors up to middle and then to senior managers, Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors. Each level of management is there for one purpose only and that is to ensure that the organisations goals are achieved. Managers achieve these organisational goals by using the following functions.

Planning is the essential and primary function of a manager; all other functions follow from good planning. Major components of the overall planning process are the organisation’s mission, goals and plans. The mission is the organisation’s purpose or fundamental reason for existence, a goal is a future target or end result an organisation wishes to achieve and a plan is a means devised for attempting to reach the goal (Bartol, 2003, p.196). Planning can be as basic as a team leader looking at absenteeism in his/her area and working out how the team will produce the required production for the day to senior management looking at company expansion possibilities or competitor take-over actions. Having a good idea of an organisation’s overall mission, as well as more specific, written goals and carefully configured plans, is important to an organisation’s success (Bartol, 2003, p.173). Each level of management has to plan daily in some way to ensure that the primary goals of the organisation will be achieved for that day and the days to come. A plan sets out the how to achieve an organisations goals.

Organising is the establishment of the internal structure of the business i.e. setting objectives, analysing dependencies and scheduling activities and resources to ensure that organisations objectives are achieved(Bartol, 2003).Managers delegate responsibility and authority to staff in this function of management, for example, a senior manager will be on a committee that develops an organisations annual production schedule, which when complete, will be passed to a scheduling committee that will develop weekly production schedules. These schedules will in turn be passed on to the production department who will need to determine if they will need to, work overtime to achieve the required production, hire more people, or a combination of both. Managers at all levels must focus on the division, coordination, and control of tasks and the information flow within the organisation.

‘Leaders are born not made.’ This statement has come up year after year whenever the subject of leadership is discussed, (the jury is still out on this issue). A Japanese proverb states ‘Leadership is like air. Necessary for life but impossible to see or touch.’ Leaders are interested in direction, goals, objectives, intentions, purpose, and effectiveness (Morden, 1997, p.1). An effective leader achieves the organisational goals by affecting the attitudes and actions of his staff with a combination of influence, trust, motivation and reward (either monetary or verbal praise).While some managers merely react to change, seeing it as more a threat than change, the true leader will welcome change, and modify or direct its course (Adair, 1986, p.73). Successful leaders must be able to inspire and motivate those who follow, and must use the power of their position both responsibly and effectively. If they do, organisational goals will be achieved and management will be respected and rewarded.

Controlling consists of implementing checks in the system that ensure that managers can check that outcomes match the organisational plan and that if necessary they can take action to bring projects back on track when necessary. As with planning there are many levels of control, Lorange has classified controlling into three main areas, Top management, responsible for organisation-wide perspective with a long term frame, Middle management, responsible for department level perspective with a periodic time frame and First level management, responsible for unit/individual perspective with a short term frame (Lorange, 1986, p.12). Basically, control involves the establishment of standards for measuring work performance, comparing actual performance to the standard and taking corrective action to correct unfavourable deviations from the established organisational standard or goal. A good example of controlling would be the assembly line in an automotive manufacturer. Every operation that an assembly operator has to perform has been allocated a time by the company assembly engineering department. The time allowed for each assembly task is built into the line speed of the assembly line. If vehicles come off the assembly line with shortages the engineers know which section of the assembly line is responsible and can investigate to determine if the time allowance for that operation is fair and achievable or has there been an operator error.

In conclusion it is interesting to look at what managers actually do at work, one of the most widely read studies of management is a study conducted by Mitzberg who followed several top managers around for a week each and recorded everything they did. In summary Mintzberg found the following characteristitics of Managerial Work:
Characteristics of Managerial Work
• Managers perform a great quantity or work at an unrelenting pace.
• Managers’ activity is characterized by variety, fragmentation, and brevity.
• Managers prefer issues that are current, specific and ad hoc.
• Managers sit between the organization and a network of contacts.
• Managers demonstrate a strong preference for the verbal media (telephone and meetings, as opposed to mail and tours).
• Managers appear to be able to control their own affairs (despite the fact that they have so many obligations) (Mintzberg, 1980).

It is obvious from Mintzberg’s observations that the position of senior manager in an organization is a very demanding and very varied occupation, and, as environment and increased global competition issues grow in importance to most organization’s, the management functions, planning, organising, leading and controlling will becoming not only desirable but essential tools for today’s managers.

Organisations that achieve success in their field will in turn reward their managers, so today’s managers must make full use of these important tools as well as all other available management tools to ensure that the organisations goals are achieved.

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