The main role of a manager is to find creative ways of solving problems. There are principal of management drawn from various academic fields to assist managers in creative problem solutions. These, divided in to four main functions, include, planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.
As Waddell, Jones & George assert, “Managers, manage plan, organize, lead and control human and other resources to achieve organizational goals effectively and efficiently, and are the people responsible for supervising the use of an organization’s human resources.” ( 2011, pp 1-2)
These functions are highly intertwined when running an organization and therefore, to analyze and conceptualize clear rationale for differentiating skills and practices that compose this framework wholesomely, may be confusing. This framework is not without criticism. Specifically, critics suggesting that it is more theoretical than practical. The framework does not reflect the day-to-day work of managers.
“The typical day in the life of a manager at any level can be fragmented and hectic; with the constant threat of having priorities dictated by the law of the trivial many and important few.” (Mintzberg 1973) According to Lamond (2004) this framework still provide for a vital way of classifying activities of managers and their engagement in attempt to achieve their goals.
Planning in management, is a function that involves following a course of action in order to achieve set objectives. Planning entails good descicion making and requires managers to realize the environmental circumstances their organizations are in and forecast future circumstances. For managers, planning should start with critical contingenciess in their firms, clients and their competitors. Managers as planners need to establish goals or objectives.
They need to identify courses of action for achieving these objectives. They are supposed to formulate methods and ensure sound and effective implementation plans. These plans need to be evaluated regularly to correct them when nessecary and to determine there success.
Managers apply different types of plans. Strategic plan which takes into account, strenghths, weakness and threats of the organization. This plan is mainly based on the mission which is the purpose for the existence of the organization.
Tactical planning is a period based plan designed to develop firm and specific means of the implementation of the strategic plan. This type of planning is common with middle level managers. There are other plans with the organizations operations. However, the reality is that different managers will implement these plans in their own ways.
Depending on their abilities, managers execute their functions differently. There are managers that will consult widely and extensively and those that will trust their instincts and run a one man show choosing the appropriate goals and corse of action for the organization. One classic example is the Bob Pitman’s handling of the AOL-Time Warner merger (Waddell, Jones & George 2011, p 2 ).
Organizing is a management function that deals with development of organizational structures, adding human resource to it to ensure achievement of the set objectives.
Managers use organization structures as a framework within which human resourse is implemented. Organizing also deals with individual job designation within the organization. Job design decisions are made by managers in regard to duties and responsibilities of specific work in the organization, including the manner in which they are performed.
At the organizational level, organizing involve departmentalization which is categorizing people in groups according to the nature of the work they perform. Managers use organizational structures to outline authority and responsibility between departments and in cordinating the organization’s resources.
Managers differ in their interpretation and understanding of organization’s structure. According to Thomas & McDaniel (1990) findings reveal that strategy and information processing structure are involved to the way managers view strategic issues and the range of variables they put to use in interpretation.
In many instances according to Knights & Roberts (1982) this may lead to both management and staff acting on a basis of false understanding of the nature of power. In this case power is handled as personal possession as oppossed to relationship in the organization. The result being series of vicious circles that undercut relationships in the organization.
Today,many organizations aim at striking a balance between specialization and autonomy for their workers. Work is viewed based on principles such as empowerment, carrier growthjob enrichmentA job redesign technique that allows workers more control over how they perform their own tasks. and teamworkteamworkCooperative effort by the members of a group or team to achieve a common goal.
A manager’s ability to put to proper perspective the organization’s structure will more likely succeed in running it as explained by Waddell, Jones & George (2011) in the case where, Pittman decided to adapt the AOL organizing model as opposed to the one used by Time Warner. He then made AOL managers responsible for developing the culture of the organization.
Leadership in management is the informal influence sources that are applied by managers to inspire others. Mintzberg (1973) views management as a larger field of activity than leadership and that leadership is sumergerd in Management. Behavioral sciences have added benefit to the study of this management function.
They provide insight to how effective managers lead subordinates. By leadership, managers show direction, motivate employees to play a pivotal role in achieving organizational goals. “Leadership thrives on power, influence, vision, persuasions and communication skills.” ( Waddell, Jones & George 2011)
According to Lee (2011), managers a cross all sectors seem to share a collective need to work well with their employees. A good working relationship can reap mutual rewards. For instance, a manager as a bad leader can direct his staff to perform tasks that need to be done.
But the manager first need to prove that they are capable of doing these tasks. Without this the staff are left with unrealistic goals and questions. This may lead to resentment and reduction in productivity as a protest.
According to Waddell, Jones & George (2011), managers evaluate the effectiveness of there organization in achieving set goals and take corrective measures by controlling. Here managers monitor organization’s performance levels to check whether they meet expectations.
This involves structuring performance standards, checking actual performance and taking corrective measures. Performance can be measured in many ways including financial statements, production report, customer satisfaction survey and formal performance appraisals. Managers at all levels egage in this function to some level. Managers need to know who takes the responsibility for deviation from starndard.
In conclusion, the management functions discussed above are considered to be the best classification method in study of management. Although there are changes in situations in which managers perform their jobs, they still perform these functions to some level. All levels of management require technical foundation but seldom do managers especially in high level authority use their technical knowhow. They often realise that performance require strategic, sociol and poilitical skill that experience had not given them.
Knights, D & Roberts, J 1982, ‘The Power of Organization or The Organization of Power’, Organization Studies , vol 3, no. 1, pp. 47-63.
Lamond, D 2004, ‘“A Matter of Style: Reconciling Henri and Henry,” Management Decision’, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Sydney.
Lee, A 2011, ‘The Effective Manager; what’s the blend I need?’, 28 June 2011.
Mintzberg, H 1973, The Nature of Managerial Work, Harper & Row, New York.
Thomas, JB & McDaniel, J,RR 1990, ‘Interpreting Strategic Issues: Effects of Strategy
and the Information-Processing Structure of Top Management Teams’, The Academy of Management Journal, vol 33, no. 2, pp. 286-306.
Waddell, D, Jones, GR & George, JM 2011, ‘Contemporary Management’, 2nd edn, Australia Pty Limited, McGraw-Hill.