What Are The Four Functions of Management?

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Management is a critical function in any organization but very few people can clearly articulate what the function of a management team is.

I’m sure you and your employees can broadly define what management does or is responsible for in your organization, but if I asked you for a succinct description on the functions of management where would you start?

Luckily, there are four functions of management and they tell you everything you need about what a Manager needs to do to execute work in the short term and plan for the long term. The four functions of management planning, organizing, controlling and leading.

In this post we will break down each of these management functions and show how they work together to ensure the goals and objectives of a company are achieved.

The Four Functions of Management – Planning

Four Functions of Management - Planning

It is often said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Though it may sound cliché, there is a lot of wisdom in that old saying. As a manager, you simply must be a good planner else you will mislead the entire organization.

Planning in its simplest sense means making arrangements and creating strategies for the future. You must be adept at creating a goal and then taking steps to reach it.

Even though you do not need to have all the details figured out, you should at least have an idea of where you want your business to be. This must then be followed with practical steps of getting there. Make sure that the goals you set can be achieved and that you have a solid plan before you set out to achieve them.

You need to have the big picture in mind at all times. That way, you will not be sidetracked by minor issues that have little or no consequence to achieving your goals.

Planning also means that you should envision problems and challenges long before they happen, and have solutions ready for when they occur.

The Four Functions of Management – Organizing

Four Functions of Management - Organizing

No matter how brilliant your plans are, if you are poorly organized, achieving them will prove to be truly evasive. Simply put, organization is the key to achieving your goals.

Organization is a many-stepped process. First, you will need to identify the activities that need to be carried out in order to reach your goals. This can be easily done by referring to the plans you made earlier.

Next, you will need to group certain activities together, particularly those that are closely related. This will come in handy when you have to delegate tasks and allocate resources.

A manager must then make sure that there are resources with which to achieve the goals that have been set. Do you have the specific machinery, financial backup, materials or whatever other resources you will need to attain your goals? If the answer is no, you must make arrangements to obtain those resources.

Once you have all the required resources, it is now time to find out whether you have the necessary manpower. You need to assign tasks to those who can carry them out best, and ensure that everyone works where they fit well.

Organizing teams can be something of a challenge. Knowing who to place where may not be all that easy, but it can be done with careful evaluation.

If you need to, you should outsource outside help as early as you need it. It is better to seek outside help to do things like monitor IT infrastructure rather than to overwork your staff, as this can derail your progress a great deal. Making sure that you are well staffed will help you sail smoothly as you execute your plans.

Four Functions of Management – Leading

Four Functions of Management - Leading
Perhaps the most important part of management is being a leader. When all is said and done, you are the person that the rest of the team looks up to for guidance and inspiration.
As a leader, you will need to have great problem- solving skills. This will come in real handy when the rest of the team encounters a problem they cannot solve by themselves. Then you will have to step in and offer a solution to the problem.

Contrary to the widespread notion, leaders don’t have to be above their teammates. In fact, the best kind of leaders are the ones that intermingle freely with their employees. Those who don’t consider any job to be beneath them also make excellent leaders.

As the team leader, you need to be approachable and friendly. Otherwise how will your team members air out their concerns and the challenges they are experiencing in completing the project?

A leader also needs to inspire people to get the job done. It is said that leadership is the art of making people do what you want them to do because they want to do it. Nothing describes it better than this.

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Four Functions of Management – Controlling

Four Functions of Management - Controlling

Finally, a manager must constantly monitor the progress of the project. Regular supervision is definitely part of the job. Without it, it is easy to let issues build up before they are addressed, and this can be quite costly in the long run.

Good managers are always gauging themselves against set performance standards. The constant question on their mind is: how are we fairing with the project and how close are we to achieving our objective?

Monitoring progress can take the form of reviewing reports of the progress made within the week. You should also set apart time for brief one on one meetings with your members to assess your progress.

If you find out that you are experiencing challenges, you must have a winning attitude towards them. This means that you should focus more on solving the problem, rather than dwelling on the damage it has caused. Treat it as an opportunity to learn and this will change your entire outlook on the matter.

There is no denying the fact that holding a managerial position is a great responsibility. If handled well, it can make a company flourish. On the other hand, mismanagement often ruins an organization.

Although a good manager should exude a number of qualities, there are four skills that every manager should possess. You should be a good planner, organizer, leader and also good at controlling progress.

Planning demands that you be far sighted. What do you want to achieve in the near future? How will you achieve this target?

If you can answer both these questions, then you should start executing your plan. This is where your organizational skills come to play. Can you allocate resources and assign tasks to employees in a way that brings the best results?

As a manager, how good a leader are you? Do you take pride in lording it over others, or are you more concerned with inspiring people to give the project their best?

Finally, how often do you asses the progress of your project? Do you know exactly how you are faring in the project? Do you possess good problem- solving skills?

All these are questions that every manager should be able to answer with ease. They are the, after all, the four functions of management.

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About Author

Paul Towers - Founder @ Task Pigeon

Paul Towers is a 3x Entrepreneur and Founder of Task Pigeon. Join me on my journey to build an open & transparent startup from day one. Paul is also the founder of Startup Soda, a newsletter curating the best content from the Australian startup ecosystem.